As noted in the Miscellaneous Section of the Modification to the Rules of Golf for Golfers with Disabilities, there are many golfers who have physical limitations that may result in some degree of disability and that may have a significant impact on their ability to play. The USGA reviews, on a case-by-case basis, unique devices that are designed for use by individuals with such limitations and that do not conform to the Rules of Golf. After reviewing a device, as well as information regarding the individual's medical condition, the USGA determines whether the device could be permitted as an exception to Rule 14-3 and refers the ultimate decision to the local Committee (e.g., tournament committee or golf club). If the local Committee determines that the individual does not gain any undue advantage over other players by using the device, the Committee may permit the player to use the device during a stipulated round. A similar procedure is noted in Exception 1 to Rule 14-3 for decisions which can be made by the local Committee.
In addition to the procedure noted above, the USGA publishes a List of Equipment Permitted Conditionally for Medical Reasons (the "List") for certain items manufactured at a commercial level (i.e., mass produced with respect to a specific condition rather than designed for use by a specific individual). To be included on the list, an item must be submitted to the USGA Research and Test Center for review, along with medical and/or scientific evidence demonstrating a significant connection between the device, as used by a golfer, and the targeted medical condition. Devices designed on a customized level (i.e., designed for use by a specific individual) will continue to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, as described above.
A player is not considered to be in breach of the USGA Rules of Golf for using a device included on the List if:
- He establishes, with the local Committee, that he currently has a medical condition identified on the List associated with the particular device, and
- The local Committee determines that the player would not gain an undue advantage over other players in that competition by using the device
The USGA does not make any medical claims or endorsements regarding any device on the List. Manufacturers of equipment and devices that may not conform to the Rules of Golf, but that are beneficial to golfers with medical conditions, are encouraged to submit their products to the USGA for potential inclusion on the List. However, the USGA reserves the right to determine that the equipment or device is excessive (i.e., too restrictive, too assistive, etc.) or does not comply with the spirit of this provision.
General Guidelines For Obtaining Permission to Enter USGA Championships
- All such requests and required medical documentation must be submitted to and received by the USGA within three days of submitting the entry application online. Phone submissions are not accepted. The request and associated documentation should be sent by overnight courier to the attention of the Director, Equipment Rules & Conformance, USGA Research and Test Center, 77 Liberty Corner Road, Far Hills, New Jersey, 07931 or via facsimile to the attention of the Director, Equipment Rules & Conformance at (908) 234-1603.
- If a player is diagnosed with a condition related to a device on the List after the closing time and date of entries set forth on the particular entry form and the player wishes to use the device during a USGA competition, or the player wishes to proceed under Exception 1 to Rule 14-3, the player must submit a formal request, as specified below, to the Director, Equipment Rules & Conformance as soon as possible prior to the event. In addition to the information required below, the player must include proof that the condition was diagnosed after the entry submission date.
- Written requests should include the following information:
- Documentation from a treating physician, physical therapist or other medical professional describing the player's condition (i.e., medical record, letter, etc.) and how the device affects the player's ability to play golf.
- The product manufacturer and product name identified on the List that the player wishes to use, or if not a mass-manufactured device, the name and contact information of the maker of the device.
- Photographs, diagrams and/or product specifications of the device and photographs and/or diagrams of the device when used.
- If necessary, a sample of the device for physical evaluation (may be returned upon completion of the evaluation).
If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact the Director, Equipment Rules & Conformance, USGA Research & Test Center at (908) 234-2300.
Requests for local and regional competitions, other than local and regional USGA qualifiers, should be made directly to the local or regional competition committee.