Sunday, 13 May 2012

Unusual Use of Equipment


















Two weeks ago I heard about a player who received a useful tip during a lesson from his Club Pro. It was to help him keep his head still during his stroke until after the moment of impact. The advice was to tuck his chin into his chest, take his shirt into his mouth and bite on it until his stroke was over. He was pleased at how well this worked for him and used the technique during his next medal competition with great results. However, he was less pleased when he was then disqualified from the competition for using equipment in an unusual manner. Part of Rule 14-3 states;
The player must not use… any equipment in an unusual manner:
a. That might assist him in making a stroke or in his play; or
b. For the purpose of gauging or measuring distance or conditions that might affect his play; or
c. That might assist him in gripping the club, except that:
(i) gloves may be worn provided that they are plain gloves;
(ii) resin, powder and drying or moisturizing agents may be used; and
(iii) a towel or handkerchief may be wrapped around the grip. 
Perhaps the harshest occurrence of a penalty incurred under this Rule was at last year’s USGA Senior Women’s Amateur at the Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Andrea Kraus, 50, of Baltimore, Md., was playing in her first USGA Senior Women’s Amateur and was lying dormie 7 after the 11th hole when she was disqualified. Her caddie had a short string of yarn attached to his divot repair tool that he had used during the round to judge the direction of the wind. I do understand the reasoning behind the disqualification, but would be surprised if every Rules official would have arrived at the same ruling.

Examples of equipment that may not be used in an unusual manner in a golfing context are;

  • (Edit: Note that this Decision was revised at January 2014 and compasses are now permitted on the course). A compass, which could be used to determine wind direction, the direction of the grain in the greens, or for some other similar reason. (Decision 14-3/4). It is for this reason that iPhones, which have an inbuilt compass that cannot be removed, may not be used during competitions as a distance measuring device, even if there is a Local Rule permitting the use of distance measuring devices. (See this link for more information on this subject).
  • A weight suspended on a string and used as plumb line. Decision 14-3/11.
  • A bottled drink on the putting green used as a level to gauge the slope of the green. Decision 14-3/12.5
  • A golf ball warmer or hand warmer purposely used to heat a ball. Decision 14-3/13.5 (but see below).
  • A music or broadcast listening device, whether or not using headphones, while making a stroke or for a prolonged period of time during a stipulated round. Decision 14-3/17.
There are two important exceptions to Rule 14-3, which can be summarised as ‘for medical reasons’ and ‘traditionally accepted’;
1. A player is not in breach of this Rule if (a) the equipment or device is designed for or has the effect of alleviating a medical condition, (b) the player has a legitimate medical reason to use the equipment or device, and (c) the Committee is satisfied that its use does not give the player any undue advantage over other players.

2. A player is not in breach of this Rule if he uses equipment in a traditionally accepted manner.
Here are some examples of situations where the second exception applies;
  • Although a booklet containing information on the length and topography of the holes on a course (stroke-saver) is an artificial device, its use has been traditionally accepted
  • A putter may be used as a plumb-line to assist in determining the slope on a putting green (as in the photo above).
  • Although a hand warmer is an artificial device, its use solely to warm the hands is traditionally accepted. Decision 14-3/13.
  • A towel or handkerchief may be wrapped around the grip of a club to assist in gripping it. Rule 14-3c.
So, golfers should think twice before using any type of equipment in an unusual manner; it is probably not permitted by the Rules unless it meets the above exceptions.

Good golfing,




The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2012 and may not be copied without permission.

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8 comments:

Hywel said...

I am eternally baffled by the compass rule, which in turn seems to be the root cause of complications with DMDs.
I can find out which way the wind is blowing by throwing some grass in the air and it really makes no difference to me whether it's north south or whatever.
Likewise with the grain of the green.

Barry Rhodes said...

Hywell,

You are not alone; I have received many similar comments. I was half-expecting Decision 14-3/4 to have been withdrawn this year, but it did not happen.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,

I have a question. When I play golf, I wear a bracelet on my right wrist. The other day, I was playing and while I was putting, I could feel the bracelet against my hand. It felt really good and it helped me with connection throughout the putting stroke. Would you say that this is using equipment in an unusual way?

Thanks and regards.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

In my opinion, wearing a bracelet does not breach Rule 14-3, providing you do not use it in any way to improve your grip, e.g. by hooking a finger underneath it.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,
Not sure if this has been covered elsewhere, apologies if it has, but I'm wondering if it's permissible to wrap a piece of yellow electrical tape around the top of the grip to remind me to grip down an inch or so ?
Many thanks !

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

There is nothing in the Rules of Golf (including Appendix ll on Clubs) to prevent a player putting personal marks on their golf clubs (or other equipment), providing it does not make the club non-conforming. Wrapping tape around the club's grip would not make it non-conforming.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,

regarding putting substances on one's hands/gloves to improve grip: would pine tar be acceptable? it's not really a "drying agent" per se.


thanks

Mc

Barry Rhodes said...

Mc.

As pine tar is a stickymaterial it may not be used to assist in gripping a club. The only substances a player may use for this purpose are resin, powder and drying or moisturising agents. Pine tar does not qualify under any of these exceptions.

Barry