Friday, October 12, 2012

Getting Around That Pesky Rule Against Offering Advice

Pro golfers, every year, call penalties on themselves. Back in 2007, for example, after Mark Wilson won the PGA Tour Honda Classic, stories circulated about how he called a penalty on himself in an early round when his caddie unthinkingly blurted out advice to a fellow-competitor. It's in the Rules of Golf in black and white: neither a lender nor a borrower of advice shalt thou be.

But there's more than one way to give or get advice - it doesn't have to be verbal. Do pro golfers ever maneuver to get around the rule against advice by going the non-verbal route? Apparently, sometimes, yes they do.

Gary Player did it once down the stretch at The Masters, according to longtime Masters caddie Carl Jackson. Jackson was Ben Crenshaw's Masters caddie seemingly forever, but even before "forever," Jackson was caddying at Augusta - all told, Jackson caddied in more than 50 Masters tournaments.

And in the April 2007 issue of Golf Digest, Jackson is quoted telling a story about Player and advice.

The background: At the 1964 Masters, Jackson was caddying for Bruce Devlin, and Devlin was in contention entering the final round. On one of the early par-3s, Jackson told Devlin to hit 4-iron. Devlin instead asked for the 5-iron. Jackson disputed the club selection; Devlin insisted.

Meanwhile, off to the side, fellow-competitor Gary Player watched, knowing that Jackson was right and the young Devlin was making a big mistake that, given his position on the leaderboard at the time, might take him out of the running. The article continues:

Jackson remembers Player clearly disagreed with Devlin's choice, but a player cannot offer advice to another player. So, as Devlin prepared to hit, Player walked to the front of the tee and faced the green, blocking Devlin from swinging. Player stood there, as if he were judging the distance or the wind. Devlin finally asked Player to move, and he did, silently shaking his head.

Devlin's shot came up short, buried in a bunker, and he wound up with a triple-bogey.

Did Player violate the rules? What do you think?

If his intentions were what Jackson claims them to be, then Player clearly violated the spirit of the don't-ask-don't-tell rules on advice. But since he never actually said anything, or motioned in any way ... You make the call.

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