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Rules FAQ: Using Golf Clubs to Align Stance for Stroke

Can a Golfer Place Clubs (or other items) on Ground to Help Align for Stroke?

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Paul Casey Using Alignment Aid on Driving Range

Using an alignment aid while on the driving range - as Paul Casey is doing - is good practice. But can you place anything on the ground to help with alignment while playing a round of golf?

David Cannon / Getty Images
Golfers often practice on the driving range using golf clubs or other items to help align their stances. You must be aligned properly, of course, to play your best golf, so placing clubs on the ground to make sure you're aimed properly at the target is a good drill.

But can you take this practice drill from the driving range onto the golf course? Can a golfer use golf clubs (or other items) to help align himself for a stroke during a round of golf?

The rule that addresses this situation is Rule 8-2, Indicating Line of Play. Rule 8-2a addresses this question for all situations "Other Than on Putting Green"; Rule 8-2b addresses the question for "On the Putting Green."

On the putting green, the answer is a quick "no." The player, his partner or either of their caddies are allowed to point out the putting line prior to - but not during - the stroke; however, they are not allowed to touch the green in so doing, and no marks or aids of any kind can be placed on the green (whether prior to the stroke or during the putting stroke).

The rules do allow some leeway when off the green, however. Rule 8-2a grants a player permission to place a mark or aid to indicate the line of play (e.g., placing clubs on the ground to align yourself for the shot) prior to playing the stroke. However, the item(s) being used to indicate the line of play must be removed before the stroke is actually played.

So, if a player is so inclined, he may, other than on the green, place golf clubs at his feet to align his stance for the stroke, so long as he removes those clubs before actually hitting the ball.

Decision 8-2a/1 directly addresses this situation, making the ruling perfectly clear (excerpted from the Rules & Decisions portion of the USGA Web site):

8-2a/1 - Club Placed on Ground to Align Feet
Q. A player places a club on the ground parallel to the line of play to assist him in aligning his feet properly. Is this permissible?
A. Yes, provided the player removes the club before playing his stroke. Otherwise, a breach of Rule 8-2a would occur.

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