|Justin Thomas broke a club in the normal course of play|
The first concerned Keegan Bradley, who was penalised two strokes for starting his round with 15 clubs in his bag. Fortunately, either he or his caddie realised that he was carrying fifteen clubs before teeing off on the 2nd hole, otherwise the penalty would have been four strokes, as per the penalty statement under Rule 4-4. I agree with self-confessed Rules geek and USGA competion committee member, Missy Jones, who made this comment on Twitter, “Having a Rules official as a starter would cut down on players starting with more than 14 clubs.”
The second situation concerned Justin Thomas, who following a wayward drive, managed to clatter his 8-iron against a tree while trying to get his ball back onto the fairway. In this situation, because Justin damaged his club in the normal course of play he had three options under Rule 4-3;
(i) use the club in its damaged state for the remainder of the stipulated round; orNote that clubs that are damaged other than in the normal course of play (e.g. “slammed” into a golf bag, bent in frustration, hit against a tee-marker), may not subsequently be used or replaced during the round, Rule 4-3b.
(ii) without unduly delaying play, repair it or have it repaired; or
(iii) as an additional option available only if the club is unfit for play, replace the damaged club with any club. The replacement of a club must not unduly delay play (Rule 6-7) and must not be made by borrowing any club selected for play by any other person playing on the course or by assembling components carried by or for the player during the stipulated round.
Other Rules relating to clubs are;
- Clubs must conform to the provisions, specifications and interpretations set forth in Appendix II, e.g. chippers must only have one striking face, Decision 4-1/3.
- A player may make adjustments to a conforming club before starting a stipulated round, but not during the round, Rule 4-2a.
- Foreign material (e.g. chalk or saliva) must not be applied to the club face for the purpose of influencing the movement of the ball, Rule 4-2b.
- There is no penalty for carrying another player’s club inadvertently put into the wrong bag during a round, unless it is used, in which case a penalty of two strokes applies and the club must not be used again by that player, Decision 4-4a/5.
- Partners may share clubs, provided that the total number of clubs carried by the partners so sharing does not exceed fourteen, Rule 4-4b.
- There is no penalty for carrying another player’s club that has been found on the course, but it must not be used, Decision 4-4a/8.
- Players may not borrow a club selected for play by any other person on the course, Decision 4-4a/12, but they may practice with another player’s club (e.g. putter) where the Rules permit practice during a round, Decision 4-4a/13.
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