Alignment stick used by Brendan Steele: Two penalty strokes

You are allowed to bring an alignment stick to the golf course, but you are not allowed to use it.

That is the lesson Brendan Steele learned after recently playing in Wyndham Championship on the PGA Tour. Brandon needed to end 3rd or better to advance to the playoffs. But he did not succeed.


According to GolfChannel, Steele incurred a two-stroke penalty during the second round Friday. At hole 13 (his fourth hole for the day) he asked his caddie to check his alignment. He was four over for the round after only three holes and thus something had to be wrong!

Therefore, the caddie took an alignment stick from the bag. An alignment stick is a kind of a metal stick which can be used to check your alignment e.g. by placing it in front of the feet and see which direction they point. The caddie then checked the alignment in some way.

Oops. You are not allowed to.

The Rules of Golf.

I don’t know exactly what the caddie did, but two Rules of Golf could be breached (under Rule 10.3c a player is responsible for his/her caddie’s breach):

  1. Rule 4.3a (6): Using any type of golf training or swing aid (such as an alignment rod…) or a non-conforming club to make a practice swing or in any other way that creates a potential advantage by helping the player in preparing for or making a stroke (such as help with swing plane, grip, alignment, ball position or posture).
  2. Rule 10.2b(3): A player must not take a stance for the stroke using any object that was set down by or for the player to help in lining up his or her feet or body, such as a club set down on the ground to show the line of play.

The penalty for breach of each of these Rules is the “General Penalty” which in stroke play is two penalty strokes. As a starting point you are only penalized for breach of one of them. Steele incurred a two-stroke penalty allegedly under Rule 4.3a, whereby I assume that the caddie did not use it to help taking the Steele’s stance (picture), but in another way.

Playoffs missed.

Steele had a double bogey and eventually missed the cut and thereby missed the playoffs.


  1. Colin MacGillivray says

    Before addressing it, I stand behind the ball and align a natural object (brown or odd shped grass, tiny twig etc) already in the grass about a pace behind the ball with the flagstick or the direction I want the ball to go. Then when I address the ball I use the object and the ball as the exact line to line up my feet. Never seen anyone else do this. It works.

    1. VJOB says

      That is not permitted R 10.2b(3)_General Penalty

  2. Ken says

    This is not illegal if using a natural object that is already there. It would only be illegal if the object was “set down” to help with the alignment.

  3. Fernie Tarango says

    One could use the flagstick (obstruction) as long as it is removed prior to making a stroke

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