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golf advice

Can you ask which direction the wind is coming from?

Is getting a steer on the gusts classed as golf advice? Our Rules of Golf expert is again here to help…

 

It’s a tough shot, a swirling breeze, and you just can’t get a handle on it. You could take your best guess and see what nature does, but can you get a little assistance from your playing partners?

Are you allowed to ask what direction the wind is coming from? We know advice, defined in the Rules of Golf as “any verbal comment or action that is intended to influence a player” in how they choose a club, make a stroke, or play during a hole or a round, is forbidden.

You’ll get the general penalty (two strokes or loss of hole in match play) if you either ask for or give advice.

But is this specifically forbidden, or can you get together on the golf course to discuss gusts with, well, gusto? Let’s take a look at this golf advice rule…

golf advice rules

Golf advice rule: Does giving wind information count as advice?

I took a straw poll in our office of this question and, after much umming and ahing, they all got it wrong. You are the beneficiaries of their confusion.

Well it might seem contradictory to be able to tell your playing partners exactly which way the wind is going, and you could convince yourself you are giving advice, you will get the green light from the Rules of Golf.

Wind direction, along with things like distances and locations of bunkers and penalty areas, are all classed as “public information” and it’s fine to dispense it.

Where you need to be careful is what you do to express it. While it’s fine to say, ‘the wind is coming from right to left’, you can’t measure the wind speed at the course and you can’t use an “artificial object to get other wind-related information”.

That means using a handkerchief, a ribbon, powder, or other such devices to help your playing partner assess the wind direction.

This is outlined in Rule 4.3 and the penalties for a breach are extremely severe. Do it once and you’ll get the general penalty. Commit the felony again and its disqualification.

Got a question for our expert?

Despite the changes to the Rules of Golf at the beginning of 2019, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. I’ll try to help by featuring the best of your queries in this column.

What do you think about this golf advice rule? Let me know on X, formerly known as twitter.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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