- DJ Points, was penalised for holding a spongy green ball under his arm to make practice swings while waiting to play on a tee box?
- Jeff Overton, was penalised for using alignment rods to practice putting on the 10th tee while waiting for a back-up of players to clear, resulting from both the 1st and 10th having been used as starting holes following a weather-suspended round.
- Julie Inkster, was penalised for making practice swings with a weighted donut device attached to one of her clubs in similar circumstances to Jeff Overton above.
Q. Is a plumb-line, i.e. a weight suspended on a string, an artificial device within the meaning of the term in Rule 14-3?Now we have all seen players use their putter as a plumb-line, e.g. Ricky Fowler in the photo above; this is permitted, because they are using their equipment in a traditionally accepted manner, but if they use anything that was originally designed as a plumb-line they are in breach of Rule 14-3, as in the Decision above. So Jason Duffner was permitted to use a glove under his arm while making practice swings, because the glove was part of his equipment and was obviously not designed as a swing aid.
A. Yes. If a player uses such a device to assist him in his play, he is in breach of Rule 14-3.
Expanding on this difference, a player is permitted to use their equipment (e.g. ball, glove, club or towel) in an abnormal manner for practice swings and practice strokes that are permitted by Rule 7-2, but not for making strokes that count in their score. This permission also includes; swinging two clubs together; holding a pencil at arms-length to gauge distance (Decision 14-3/2); using binoculars to find and identify a ball (Decision 14-3/3); referring to a strokesaver or other booklet to determine distances (Decision 14-3/5); holding a ball against the grip of the club (Decision 14-3/6.5); and placing a club on the ground to align the feet and removing it before making a stroke (Decision 8-2a/1).
However, a player may not use any artificial device that was originally designed to assist golfers in making a stroke, or in their play. This includes, spongy balls, alignment rods and weighted donuts, as in the three penalty situations referred to above.
There is a further complication when we consider what a player may use to aid them stretching during a round. Decision 14-3/10.5 is relevant;
Q. Rule 14-3a prohibits a player, during a stipulated round, from using any artificial device or unusual equipment, or using any equipment in an abnormal manner, that "might assist him in making a stroke or in his play." Would the use of a stretching device during a stipulated round be a breach of Rule 14-3?The salient point here is that during a round players may not use commercial stretching devices that were designed to assist with a golf swing, but they can uses items designed for general stretching purposes. This is a fine distinction. If you are having trouble interpreting the difference, my advice is not to use anything other than a club across your shoulders to stretch with.
A. During a stipulated round, it is permissible to use a device designed for stretching unless the device is designed specifically to be used in a golf swing and is used during a golf swing (see Decision 14-3/10). For example, the following stretching devices may be used:
Items designed specifically for golf but not used in a golf swing (e.g., a bar to place across the shoulders);
Items designed for general stretching (e.g., rubber tubing); and
Items not originally designed for stretching (e.g., a section of pipe). (Revised)
(Note: This paragraph was edited 3rd February 2016 and again on 24th November 2016.) I can confirm that any artificial device that is not a club (e.g. a swing trainer or alignment rods) may be carried during competition; a breach of Rule 14-3 only occurs if one is used during a stipulated round.
Finally, a reminder that following an amendment effective 1st January 2016, the penalty for a player’s first breach of Rule 14-3 (Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Abnormal Use of Equipment) during a round has been reduced from disqualification to loss of hole in match play, or two strokes in stroke play. The penalty for any subsequent breach of Rule 14-3 remains as disqualification. In the event of a breach between the play of two holes, the penalty applies to the next hole.
My new eBook, '999 More Questions on the Rules of Golf - 2016' is now finished and will soon be ready for publication. For those that wish to receive an early copy email me at ( rules at barry rhodes dot com ) and I will send you a .pdf file for computers. The .mobi file (Kindle) for eReaders, smart phones and tablets will be ready soon and I will send it on. The eBook price is the same as for my original 999 Questions eBook, i.e. US$9.99, Eu€8.99, St£7.79. I will give you my PayPal account details when you email me with your order. The format of 111 sections of 9 questions on different Rules subjects is completely different from my first eBook.
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