Friday, 10 July 2009

Breaking a Club in Anger

There was a minor incident at the recent 109th US Open at Bethpage State Park's Black Course that received very little press comment. It involved 6’ 3”, American Pro, DJ Trahan, who unfortunately failed to make the cut for the 9th time in 10 events. During his second round he chose to putt with his driver after bending his putter beyond use in anger. What do the Rules say about this?

Rule 4-3 makes it clear that a club may only be repaired or replaced if it is damaged in the normal course of play. Examples of ‘no
rmal’, in addition to making a stroke, practice swing or practice stroke, include;
  • removing or replacing the club in a bag
  • using the club to search for or retrieve a ball
  • leaning on the club while waiting to play
  • teeing a ball or removing a ball from the hole
  • accidentally dropping the club.
However, Decision 4-3/1 confirms that ‘normal’ usage of a club does not include;
  • being damaged in anger
  • being thrown vigorously into a bag
  • being struck against the ground, other than during a stroke, practice swing or practice stroke
DJ Trahan and his putter in happier times
One of the most famous incidents concerning a player damaging a club was during the 1997 Verizon Heritage. Woody Austin repeatedly struck his head with his putter, so hard that the shaft bent. Unfortunately for him people are still watching it on video at Woody Austin.

Another important lesson here; keep your composure on the golf course!

Barry Rhodes

Author of ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf” - the easy way to get to know the Rules
999Q on Twitter
Email: rules at barryrhodes dot com

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