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: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.
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.
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.
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.Here are some examples of situations where the second exception applies;
2. A player is not in breach of this Rule if he uses equipment in a traditionally accepted manner.
- 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.
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