Does this fun format allow you to bend the Rules of Golf in your favour? Our guru takes a look
It’s like watching a human caterpillar when groups in Texas Scrambles get onto the green. Who hasn’t seen – or been part of – a game where a team-mate is putting and everyone else is lined up behind trying to get a read on where that putt is going to go?
It can be pretty key information when you’re playing a format whose low scoring nature depends on you making lots of putts.
We know in the Rules that we can’t stand “on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball”. It’s written for caddies in Rule 10.2b (4) and it’s extended in the Rules surrounding fourball and foursome play to when a partner is making a stroke to “gain information” for their next stroke.
So does that also apply to a Texas Scramble, or are the rules ignored in what is essentially a fun format?
Lots of people think Texas Scrambles, and other forms of play like Greensomes and Modified Stablefords, aren’t covered in the Rules of Golf because you won’t find them written down in Rules 1 to 25.
But that’s not quite true. If you check out the Committee Procedures found in the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf, you’ll see they’re mentioned in Section 9.
There’s quite a vague paragraph, which states: “Detailed modifications to Rules 1-25 that are required for these formats are detailed at RandA.org”.
If you can find any for Texas Scrambles, please feel free to point them in my direction – as I’ve spent more time than anybody should putting terms into search engines to locate them.
Section 9 goes on: “Any situation that is not covered either by the Rules of Golf or by the additional modifications for the format being played, should be decided by the Committee: Considering all the circumstances, and treating the situation in a way that is reasonable, fair and consistent with how similar situations are treated under the Rules and modified Rules for the format.”
I’ve posed this Texas Scramble question to a number of experienced referees, and they were of the opinion that if the Rules of Golf are being applied in your scramble – if it says so in the Terms of Competition, for example – then you can’t stand behind the line and watch your team-mates putt.
I’ve also seen the same question posed on rules groups, though, with differing opinions. And we know there are competitions where the practice is allowed, such as the family-led PNC Championship on the PGA Tour.
As it’s not an acceptable score for handicapping purposes, should fun trump the strict implementation of the Rules? Ultimately, it seems like it’s up to your committee to decide. As always, you can never go wrong if you check beforehand.
How have you applied the Texas Scramble rules? Let me know with a tweet.