Blind Golfers

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Definition of "Coach" 

The status of the coach and the duties that he may perform should be defined clearly. Without this clarification, it would be difficult, for example, to determine how a blind golfer must proceed if his ball were to strike his or another player’s coach after a stroke. Therefore, the following Definition is suggested:

Coach:
A “coach” is one who assists a blind golfer in addressing the ball and with alignment prior to the stroke. A coach has the same status under the Rules as a caddie.

Note 1: A player may ask for and receive advice from his coach.
Note 2: A player may have only one coach at any one time.
Note 3: A coach may also be referred to as a “guide.” For the purpose of applying these modifications, a guide has the same status under the Rules as a coach.


Rule 6-4 (Caddie) 

There is nothing in the Rules that would prohibit the coach of a blind golfer from functioning as his caddie. For a variety of reasons, however, a coach may not be able to perform the duties of a caddie. Therefore, it is permissible for a blind golfer to have both a coach and a caddie. In these circumstances, however, the coach must not carry or handle the player’s clubs except in helping the player take his stance or align himself prior to making the stroke, or in assisting him as permitted by analogy to Decision 6-4/4.5. Otherwise, the player would be subject to penalty under Rule 6-4 for having more than one caddie. Likewise, if a player has more than one coach at a given time, he is subject to penalty under Rule 6-4.

Rule 8-1 (Advice) 

In view of the Definition of "Coach," it is recommended that Rule 8-1 be modified as follows:

8-1. Advice
During a stipulated round, a player must not:
a. give advice to anyone in the competition playing on the course other than his partner, or
b. ask for advice from anyone other than his partner, either of their caddies or, if applicable, their coaches.


Rule 13-4b (Touching the Ground in Hazard) 

The following additional Exception under Rule 13-4 is permissible:

Exceptions:
4. Provided nothing is done that constitutes testing the condition of the hazard or improves the lie of the ball, there is no penalty if a blind golfer grounds his club in a hazard preparatory to making a stroke. However, the player is deemed to have addressed the ball if the club is grounded immediately in front of or immediately behind the ball, whether or not the player has taken his stance.


Rule 14-2b (Position of Caddie or Partner)

Due to the complexities involved in aligning a blind golfer, it may be difficult or unreasonable to expect the blind golfer and his coach to comply with Rule 14-2b. Therefore, there is no penalty if a player’s coach positions himself on or close to an extension of the line of play or the line of putt behind the ball during a stroke, provided the coach does not assist the player in any other manner during the stroke.

However, given the intent of Rule 14-2b, it may be appropriate to prohibit a coach from remaining in a position that contravenes this Rule if he is performing the duties of a coach or a caddie for two different players simultaneously.

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