Here is a question that raises some interesting issues relating to club-lengths.
“Please resolve a dispute amongst our group of members at the Golf Club. When measuring club-lengths using a driver, does the head-cover have to be removed?”Some readers may be surprised to hear that there is nothing in the Rules that says that a club must be used in measuring club-lengths. A drop is valid providing the ball first touches the course within the distance required by the Rule and does not come to rest in a place that requires it to be re-dropped (e.g. nearer the hole or out of bounds). Thus, one or two club-length distances may be estimated and don’t have to be accurately marked, although it is obviously wise to do so if you want to use the full extent of the relief that is available. If a club is used to define the extent of the area in which the ball is to be dropped there is no requirement for the head-cover to be removed. However, the measurement obviously does not include the extra length provided by the head-cover, as this is not part of the club.
There are a couple of other interesting points regarding measuring club-lengths. First, a player may use another competitor’s club to measure distances, but only if they carry a club in their bag that is as long, or longer, as the one that they have borrowed. If the player could not have achieved the same outcome by measuring with one of their own clubs they incur the penalty for playing from a wrong place (Decision 20/2).
The second situation is when a player taking relief under a Rule, uses their driver to measure two club-lengths prescribed in the relevant Rule. They drop their ball correctly and the ball rolls less than two driver-lengths, but more than two putter-lengths, from where the ball first struck a part of the course when dropped. If their ball comes to rest in a poor lie, may they then opt to use their putter to measure the distance their ball has rolled, in which case they could re-drop under Rule 20-2c and escape the poor lie? As you would expect, the answer is that they must continue to use the club originally used for measuring for all measuring in a given situation (Decision 20/1).
Before anyone reading this blog item writes to me asking if a player is permitted to use their long-handled for measuring club-lengths, let me state that there is nothing in the Rules that prohibits this practice, but don’t do it! It would be considered to be very poor etiquette, as it obviously offers an advantage not intended by the Ruling Bodies to anyone using this type of club for putting. In my opinion, use of a long-handled putter should be prohibited anyway!
In February of this year I wrote about how to correctly measure club-lengths in various different circumstances, illustrated with a series of graphics. Click here to see this blog entry.
Barry Rhodes is;
• Author of the book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’ http://www2.barryrhodes.com/recommends
• Author and narrator of the CD, ’99 Golden Nuggets to Demystifying the Rules of Golf’
• Content provider for the iPhone application, ‘Golf Rules Quiz’