The new Rules of Golf proposal to prohibit caddies from moving behind their players to line up shots was met Wednesday with mixed reactions in the women’s game.
Hall of Famer Karrie Webb immediately gave her nod of approval.
“Should be able to do it yourself as a professional!” Webb tweeted from the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore.
Paula Creamer, who has used caddies to align her in the past, apparently doesn’t have a problem with the change, either.
“The USGA has gotten the rules changes right,” Creamer tweeted from Singapore. “This is a great start to modernizing the rules for both pace of play and simplicity!!”
Brittany Lincicome, however, didn’t seem pleased.
“I disagree!” Lincicome tweeted. “Lining up players has nothing to do with pace of play. I get 40 [seconds], I should be able to do what I want!”
Lincicome tweeted a pair of angry emojis after her comment.
The proposed alignment rule change would appear to have a greater effect on the women’s game than the men’s game.
Jerry Foltz, an on-course reporter for Golf Channel, estimates about 50 percent of the LPGA pros he follows in a telecast use their caddies to line up their shots. He said he sees substantially fewer men doing so when he works PGA Tour broadcasts.
Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko routinely has her caddie line her up as part of her pre-shot routine. No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn does, but not all the time.
Ko told GolfChannel.com through her agent Wednesday morning that she wasn’t prepared to comment on the proposal.
Why do women rely on caddies for alignment more than men?
Karen Stupples, the 2004 Women’s British Open winner, has her theories. Stupples used to alternate between having her caddie line her up and doing it herself.
“I think women in general are more likely to delegate stuff to other people,” Stupples said. “I think it’s about reassurance more than anything else. I think that’s just conditioning. When you have someone behind you saying, `You’re good,’ that’s just confirmation.”
Stupples was asked if there is, perhaps, a macho element to the men using caddies less to align them.
“I think a guy is more likely to say, `I don’t want anyone else having any kind of influence over my game,’” Stupples said. “I think women are quite happy to have the reassurance someone’s confirming their alignment.”
Both Foltz and Stupples welcome the rule change and believe it will speed up play.
“I applaud the rule more than any of the other proposed changes by a long shot, because it does seem to me to be an integral part of the game,” Foltz said. “I would say 99.9 percent of the time, the caddie lining up the player just says `OK.’ The player doesn’t need it. It’s a crutch. I think there was just one time in my entire life where I saw a caddie on a full shot tell a player, `No, you are lined up wrong.’
“It’s an idiosyncrasy. It’s part of their pre-shot routine. It’s one more little thing they don’t have to worry about.
“Now, lining up the putter blade on the greens, occasionally you see a caddie call the player off and start over, but rarely.”
Foltz said players accustomed to caddies lining them up shouldn’t have a problem adapting, but they may feel the impact in their pre-shot routine.
“It’s just changing their pre-shot routine, which for a professional golfer isn’t all that easy,” Foltz said.
Stupples agrees it will change the “timing” a player has created getting into their shot, but she is eager to see the rule change put into effect.
“My gut reaction is that it took them too long to do this,” Stupples said. “I really think it’s long overdue. I really feel like it’s an integral part of the game, being able to line yourself up.”
(In an earlier version of this story, Stacy Lewis was listed among players who use their caddies to line them up. Lewis does not use her caddie to line her up. GolfChannel.com regrets the error.)