Equipment Rules

This publication contains guidelines to help manufacturers, rules officials and other interested parties interpret the Rules relating to the design and manufacture of golf clubs and balls, as set forth in Appendices II and III of "The Rules of Golf."

Similar to the Rules, these guidelines will be continually reviewed, and modifications may be made in the future. The principles and philosophies expressed within this publication are held by both the United States Golf Association and R&A Rules Limited ("The R&A").








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The Rules of Golf (“the Rules”) specify the equipment which may be used to play the game. These specifications can be found in Rule 4 and Appendix II for golf clubs and Rule 5 and Appendix III for golf balls. In general, they are “descriptive” and “restrictive” in nature — defining what golf equipment should look like and limiting how golf equipment can perform.

The main objective of Rules 4 and 5 and Appendices II and III is to ensure that technological advances in the design and manufacture of golf equipment are in the best interests of the game of golf. While not wishing to stifle innovation, the purpose of the equipment Rules is to protect the traditions of the game, to prevent an over-reliance on technological advances rather than on practice and skill, and to preserve skill differentials throughout the game.

The USGA’s Equipment Standards Committee (“the Committee”) is responsible for interpreting and applying the Rules relevant to clubs, balls and other equipment, as well as determining and advising their conformance to the Rules. The Committee is also responsible for recommending modifications to these Rules, if and when changes are believed to be necessary.

The USGA achieves consistency in the decision-making process by maintaining a database of all previous decisions. Additionally, over time, the Committee has developed a comprehensive set of “guidelines” based on these decisions to help consistently interpret the equipment Rules.

The purpose of this publication is to provide guidelines to manufacturers, rules officials and other interested parties in an effort to assist them in interpreting and applying the Rules on golf clubs and balls. The purpose of the “Field Procedures” section is to offer advice on the procedure an official should follow when faced with an equipment ruling immediately before or during a competition.

Many of the Rules with respect to clubs and balls can be technical and complex in nature. However, almost without exception, the equipment Rules become understandable after a brief explanation, or with the aid of a simple diagram. Whenever possible, this Guide will attempt to explain the background of a rule and the objective behind it. Also, where practical, the Guide will offer advice as to how best to carry out any specific measurements.

Please note that this Guide should be read in conjunction with the 2008-2009 and 2010-2011 editions of “The Rules of Golf.” The Guide is also accessible on the USGA’s Web site.

In the event of any doubt over the conformity of a club or ball, the Rules of Golf take precedence.

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The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

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Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

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IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website,, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

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Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

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Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

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