Can a Pro Fire a Caddie Mid-Round?

At the 2013 Women’s US Open, Jessica Korda fired her caddie in the middle of the third round.   Who knows what goes on between player and caddie and what could have led to it and this isn’t the place to speculate.  This is the place, though, to see what the rules would say about this.

Rule 6 of the USGA covers “The Player”, and since the caddie is considered an extension of the player this section also covers caddies.   Rule 6-4 says: “The player may be assisted by a caddie, but he is limited to only one caddie at any one time.”  That means that a player could actually fire a caddie between shots if he or she wished.

However, it is important that there be one one caddie at any moment.  Let’s say that a player fired a caddie mid-round and brought in a spectator from the crowd to finish the round.  A hole later, the original caddie realized he has a sleeve of balls the player had given him at the beginning of the round, so he — being a good caddie — goes and finds the player’s new caddie and hands him the balls.  All ok?  Not at all.  The player would have been deemed to have two caddies, one carrying nearly everything and one carrying a sleeve of balls.  I imagine the original caddie could have kept the balls, or the player or new caddie could have instructed the old caddie to keep them, but in this example the player and new caddie took the balls from the old caddie.  And that’s a problem.  In fact, this is such a big problem the USGA’s resolution for it is disqualification.

USGA Rule 6-4 and USGA Definitions

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