Golf's Rule 10 Covers Playing Strokes, Advice and Help, and Caddies

Stanley Ladies Golf Tournament - Round Two
Atsushi Tomura / Stringer Getty

In the Official Rules of Golf, jointly written and maintained by the United States Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Rule 10 is titled "Preparing for and Making a Stroke; Advice and Help; Caddies."

The purpose of the rule, as explained in the rule book, is this:

"Rule 10 covers how to prepare for and make a stroke, including advice and other help the player may get from others (including caddies). The underlying principle is that golf is a game of skill and personal challenge."

It is the obligation of golfers to know the rules, and the USGA and R&A have tons of resources on their respective websites to help us learn and understand.

To that end, these are links directly to the text of Rule 10 that is found on the governing bodies' websites:

Summarizing Rule 10: Making a Stroke, Advice, Caddies

In our Quick Intro to the Rules of Golf, we summarize Rule 10 as follows:

  • You must strike the ball fairly with the head of the club. You may not accept any assistance or use any artificial aid in making your stroke. Neither may you use an "anchoring point" against your body in making a stroke.
  • You must not hit your ball while it is moving (except in water).
  • Don’t give advice to another player, except your partner, nor ask for advice from anyone other than a member of your side (including your caddie).
  • Your caddie may point out a line of play before your stroke, but not stand on the line of play (or directly behind) when you take your stance (except while attending the flagstick).

There are three sections included in Rule 10. Rule 10-1 is titled "Preparing for and Making a Stroke." Rule 10-2 is titled "Advice and Other Help." And Rule 10-3 is titled "Caddies."

Section 10-1 begins with two key points:

"You must fairly strike at the ball with the head of the club such that there is only momentary contact between the club and the ball and you must not push, scrape or scoop the ball.
"If your club accidentally hits the ball more than once, there has been only one stroke and there is no penalty."

It then moves on to discuss anchoring, and the rulebook includes two diagrams that help explain what is allowed and what is not allowed because it qualifies as anchoring.

Rule 10-2 begins with admonitions on what not to do when it comes to advice (excerpted from Player's Edition of the rulebook):

  • Give advice to anyone in the competition who is playing on the course, or
  • Ask anyone for advice other than your caddie.
  • Touch another player’s equipment to learn information that would be advice if given by or asked of the other player.

And section 10-3 includes sub-sections covering things that caddies are allowed to do for their players (carry bag, search for ball, offer advice, tend flagstick, rake bunkers, etc.), and things that caddies must not do (replace a ball, perform a drop in a relief area, offer a concession in match play, and several other specifics). Note that the section in Rule 10 on caddies appears only in the full edition of the Rules of Golf, and appears only in condensed form in the Player's Edition.

One big change in the 2019 edition of the rules is that caddies are now prohibited from standing behind a player on the line of play from the moment the player begins the process of taking a stance.

Be sure to read the full Rule 10, interpretations of Rule 10, and definitions of important terms either on USGA.org or RandA.org.