Rules FAQ: Using Golf Clubs to Align Stance for Stroke

Can a Golfer Use Club (or Other Item) in Round to Help With Alignment?

Bernhard Langer works on the golf practice range
Placing a golf club or other item on the ground to aid aligment is a common practice technique. But can you do it during a round?. Phil Inglis/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?

Key Takeaways

  • Golfers are allowed to lay a golf club (or other item) on the ground to help with alignment during practice sessions, but not during a round of golf.
  • Rule 10-2 in the Rules of Golf edition that went into effect in 2019 is the relevant rule.

Rules Change In 2019 Affected Alignment Question

Can a golfer use golf clubs (or other items) to help align himself for a stroke during a round of golf?

The answer to that question used to be yes. But as of Jan. 1, 2019, the answer is no. In the new rules of golf that went into effect on that date, positioning a golf club (or any other object) on the ground to help oneself align correctly for a stroke is prohibited.

The rule that addresses this situation is Rule 10-2, Advice and Other Help. In the condensed Player's Edition of the new rulebook, it is spelled out thusly:

"No Setting Down Object to Help in Taking Stance. You must not take a stance for the stroke using any object that was set down to help in lining up your feet or body."

Using an alignment aid to help with aim was always prohibited on the putting green. But in previous editions of the rules, placing a club or other object at one's feet to help align for the stroke was allowed so long as that object was removed before actually playing the stroke.

The golfer could lay a club on the ground pointing down the target line (except on the green), then set up for the stroke. The player could then lean down and remove the club (or other aid) before playing the stroke, or have his caddie remove the alignment aid. Through December 31, 2018, that was OK.

But in the 2019 edition of the rule book, any use — even if the object is removed prior to the swing — is prohibited from all parts of the golf course.

Full Rule Book Clarifies on Question of Alignment Aids

The full edition of the rule book also includes this clarification:

"If the player takes a stance in breach of this Rule, he or she cannot avoid penalty by backing away from the stance and removing the object."

The penalty for violating Rule 10-2 is loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play.

So make sure that in any round of golf played under the rules you do not attempt to use any kind of alignment aid to help with your aim. (Note that using alignment aids during practice time is still OK.)

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