Can You Stand Behind Someone Putting? (Explained)

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So, you’ve played a great approach shot into the green. Your ball is nestled comfortably inside your opponent’s — and it’s their turn to putt first.

In theory, this is a great opportunity to get a free read! Watching the other player’s putt gives you a chance to assess the pace and slope of the green before your own putt.

But, can you stand behind someone putting to learn from their putt?

In this article, you’ll learn if you’re allowed to stand behind an opponent to read the line of their putt. Also, I’ll share the rule about caddies standing behind the putting line.

Ready? Let’s go!

Can You Stand Behind Someone Putting?

Yes, you can stand behind someone putting. It’s within the rules to stand behind an opponent to learn from how their putt breaks. However, in tournament golf, caddies are not allowed to stand behind their player in the putting stance. It’s up to the player to make the putt.

can you stand behind an opponent putting

Can You Stand Behind an Opponent Putting?

Yes, you can stand behind an opponent putting. While it might seem controversial, you are within your rights to read the line of their putt before taking your own putt.

In effect, it’s the reward you get for hitting your approach shot closer to the pin than your opponent! They make their putt first, giving you a bonus read.

Steve Carroll at National Club Golfer states that: “though it might feel wrong, there is nothing in the Rules to stop a fellow competitor, or opponent, standing wherever they like – even if that means they’re behind you tracking the exact line of your putt.”

Nevertheless, it’s important to be aware of USGA Rule 1.2a. This pertains to a player’s conduct and expects them to “play in the spirit of the game.” An example of this rule being broken would be distracting an opponent by standing too close to them.

Essentially, use your own judgment to stand a comfortable distance away from the other player. As long as you aren’t distracting the opponent in doing so, it’s within the rules to analyze their putt by standing behind their putting line.

where to stand when someone is putting

Where to Stand When Someone Is Putting?

So, we’ve established that it’s within the rules of golf to stand behind an opponent to get a bonus read. But where exactly should you stand?

To give yourself the best chance of learning from how their putt rolls, stand either behind them or on the other side of the hole. Try to stand out of their line of sight, to avoid distracting them while they focus on making their putt.

Put simply, don’t feel guilty about standing where you can learn from their putt!

By positioning yourself with a view of their line, you can gather as much information as possible about how their ball reacts to the pace and slopes of the green.

Then, you can use that information to help choose the pace and target line for your own putt. Even if your ball isn’t on the exact same line, it still helps to build a picture of the green in your mind. This gives you extra confidence when standing over the putt.

However, you shouldn’t stand too close to your opponent. Use common sense, and give them plenty of space — at least 10 yards — to feel comfortable making their putt.

Ultimately, you can stand wherever you like — within reason! Some golfers choose to focus on their putt, while others like to get a free read from their opponent.

friends on the putting green

Can a Caddie Stand Behind Someone Putting?

No, caddies are not allowed to stand behind their player during their putting stance.

In 2019, the USGA introduced the following rule:

“Once the player begins taking a stance for the stroke, and until the stroke is made, the player’s caddie must not deliberately stand on the line of play.”

USGA Rule 10.2b(4)

So, what’s the reason for this rule?

Essentially, allowing a caddie to stand behind a player to help them line up the putt undermines the player’s skill and judgment. For instance, if the caddie were able to line up the player’s feet and putter face, it takes away from their own ability to do so.

The caddie is allowed to read the line and offer advice beforehand. They might straddle the putting line to help analyze the break. However, as soon as the player gets into their stance, it’s up to the player themselves to make the putt.

Ultimately, the rule helps ensure the competition remains primarily between the golfers, rather than external sources such as over-the-top caddie input.

standing behind the putter


In summary, you are allowed to stand behind someone putting as long as you are not distracting the opponent in doing so. This can help you learn from their putt.

While USGA Rule 10.2b(4) prevents caddies from standing behind players, it only stops them from standing behind their own player’s putting stance.

Of course, when playing golf recreationally, you can play to your own rules. However, it’s always good etiquette to respect your opponent by giving them plenty of space.

Ultimately, treat it like a reward for knocking your approach shot inside of theirs! Get a free read, learn the pace and break, and roll your putt in the hole.

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Hailing from the South West of England, Jake has been playing golf for over a decade. He founded Pitchmarks with the aim of helping everyday golfers like himself learn more about the game, through instructional content and honest gear reviews. He has a degree in Architecture and a passion for golf course design, along with a lofty goal to play the world's top 100 courses.