Rule 4 - The Player's Equipment

4.1 Clubs

4.1a(1)/1 – Wear Through Normal Use Does Not Change Conformity

Normal use includes strokesStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball., practice strokesStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. and practice swings, as well as acts such as removing a club from and replacing a club into the golf bag. If wear through normal use occurs, the player’s club is treated as conforming, and he or she may continue to use it.

Examples of wear through normal use include when:

4.1a(1)/2 – No Penalty for Stroke with Non-Conforming Club When Stroke Disregarded

If a player makes a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. with a non-conforming club, the player is not disqualified if the strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. does not count in the player’s score.

Examples of when the player gets no penalty for making a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. with a non-conforming club include when:

4.1a(2)/1 – Meaning of “Repair”

Examples of repair include:

4.1b(1)/1 – Separate Clubhead and Shaft Are Not a Club

With respect to Rule 4.1b(1), separated parts of a club are not a club and do not count towards a player’s 14-club limit.

For example, if a player starts his or her roundRound: 18 or fewer holes played in the order set by the Committee. with 14 clubs and is also carrying separated club components, the player is considered to be carrying only 14 clubs and there is no breach of Rule 4.1b(1).

4.1b(1)/2 – Club Broken into Pieces Does Not Count Towards the 14-Club Limit

A club that has broken into pieces does not count towards the player’s 14- club limit even when the player begins a roundRound: 18 or fewer holes played in the order set by the Committee. with that broken club.

For example, while warming up on the practice range, a player’s club breaks just below the grip and the player starts the round with that broken club in his or her bag. That club does not count as one of the 14 clubs the player is allowed to carry.

4.1b(1)/3 – Clubs Carried for Player Count Towards the 14-Club Limit

The 14-club limit applies to any clubs being carried by the player, his or her caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:, or any other person he or she asks to carry clubs.

For example, if a player begins the roundRound: 18 or fewer holes played in the order set by the Committee. with 10 clubs and asks another person to walk along with the group and carry 8 additional clubs from which the player intends to add to his or her bag during the roundRound: 18 or fewer holes played in the order set by the Committee., the player is considered to have started the roundRound: 18 or fewer holes played in the order set by the Committee. with more than 14 clubs.

4.1b(1)/4 – Club Is Considered Added When Next Stroke Made

A club is considered added when the player makes his or her next strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. with any club while the added club is in the player’s possession. This applies whether or not the player is allowed to add or replace a club.

For example, if a player who starts the roundRound: 18 or fewer holes played in the order set by the Committee. with 14 clubs decides to replace his or her putter with another putter between the play of two holes and does so without unreasonably delaying play, the player is not penalized if he or she realizes the mistake and corrects it prior to making the next strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. with any club.

4.1b(2)/1 – Multiple Players May Carry Clubs in One Bag

The Rules do not restrict multiple players (such as partnersPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play.) from carrying their clubs in one bag. However, to reduce the risk of penalty under Rule 4.1b, they should make sure the clubs are clearly identifiable to each player.

4.1b(2)/2 – Sharing Clubs Is Not Allowed for Strokes That Count in a Player’s Score

The prohibition against sharing clubs applies only to strokesStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. that count in a player’s score. It does not apply to practice swings, practice strokesStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. or strokesStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. made after the result of a hole is decided.

For example, there is no penalty under Rule 4.1b if, between the play of two holes, a player borrows another player’s putter and makes several practice putts on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that: of the hole just completed.

4.1b(4)/1 – Club Components May Be Assembled When Not Carried By or For Player

Rule 4.1b(4) restricts a player from building a club from parts that he or she is carrying or parts that any other person is carrying for him or her. It does not restrict the player from retrieving parts to build a club or having parts brought to him or her.

For example, if a player is permitted to add a club (see Rule 4.1b(1)) or replace a damaged club (see Rule 4.1b(3)), club components brought from the clubhouse (such as the player’s locker), the golf shop, or a manufacturer’s truck, or other similar locations, are not considered to be “carried by anyone for the player during the roundRound: 18 or fewer holes played in the order set by the Committee. ” and are allowed to be assembled by the player or anyone else.

4.1b/1 – How to Apply Adjustment Penalty Once Any Player Starts Hole During Match

If any player in a match has started play of a hole when a breach of Rule 4.1b is discovered, the match adjustment penalty is applied at the end of that hole. If the player in breach has not started that hole, he or she is between holes and is not in breach on the next hole.

For example, after completing the first hole, the player tees off on the second hole. Before the opponentOpponent: The person a player competes against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match play. tees off, the opponentOpponent: The person a player competes against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match play. becomes aware that he or she is carrying 15 clubs in breach of Rule 4.1b(1). Since the opponentOpponent: The person a player competes against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match play. has not started the second hole, the match score is only adjusted by one hole in the player’s favour, but the match score is not revised until the second hole is completed since the second hole started when the player teed off.

4.2 Balls

4.2a(1)/1 – Status of Ball Not on List of Conforming Golf Balls

In a competition in which the CommitteeCommittee: The person or group in charge of the competition or the course. has not adopted the Local Rule requiring players to use a brand and model of ball on the current List of Conforming Golf Balls, a player may use the following golf balls:

However, brands and models that have been tested and found not to conform to the Equipment RulesEquipment Rules: The specifications and other regulations for clubs, balls and other equipment that players are allowed to use during a round. The Equipment Rules are found at usga.org.  must not be played, whether or not the Local Rule has been adopted.

4.2a(1)/2 – Status of “X-Out”, “Refurbished” and “Practice” Balls

If a player chooses to play a ball that is marked as “X-Out” or “Practice” by the manufacturer, or a ball that has been refurbished, these balls are treated as follows under the Equipment RulesEquipment Rules: The specifications and other regulations for clubs, balls and other equipment that players are allowed to use during a round. The Equipment Rules are found at usga.org. :

4.2a(1)/3 – No Penalty for Playing Non-Conforming Ball When Stroke Is Disregarded

If a player makes a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. at a non-conforming ball or a ball not on the List of Conforming Golf Balls when the Local Rule is in effect, the player is not disqualified if the strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. does not count in the player’s score.

Examples of when a player gets no penalty include when the player plays a ball that is not allowed:

4.3 Use of Equipment

4.3a(1)/1 – Restrictions on Using Equipment to Gauge Slope

Although a player may use his or her club as a plumb line to assist in judging or gauging slope and contours, there is other equipmentEquipment: Anything used, worn, held or carried by the player or the player’s caddie. that a player may not use in judging a slope or contour.

For example, a player is not allowed to gauge slope by:

4.3a(2)/1 – Using Artificial Objects to Get Wind-Related Information Is Not Allowed

Rule 4.3a(2) gives a single example of an artificial object not allowed to get wind-related information (powder to assess wind direction). However, other artificial objects must not be used for the sole purpose of getting wind-related information.

For example, if a player takes a handkerchief out for the sole purpose of holding it in the air to see which direction the wind is blowing, the player’s action is a breach of Rule 4.3.

4.3a(4)/1 – Viewing Video That Is Being Shown at the Course

There is no breach of Rule 4.3a(4) if a player views video that is being shown for the benefit of spectators at a golf competition.

For example, if a player is standing on a tee waiting to play, and he or she is able to see a public screen showing live coverage of the competition, statistical information, wind speed or other similar things, there is no breach of the Rule 4.3 if the player watches the coverage or views the information, even if it could help the player in choosing a club, making a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball., or deciding how to play.

4.3a/1 – Limitations on Using Green-Reading Materials

Purpose of Interpretation:

Rule 4.3 limits the use of equipment and devices that might help a player in his or her play, based on the principle that golf is a challenging game in which success should depend on the judgment, skills and abilities of the player. This interpretation of Rule 4.3 limits the size and scale of detailed putting green maps and any similar electronic or digital materials that a player may use during a round to help with reading his or her line of play on the putting green so that a player’s ability to read a green remains an essential part of the skill of putting.

[The limitations apply:

This bracketed information comes from a frequently asked question on green-reading materials. To access all FAQs, go to www.usga.org/GRM.]

Putting Green Maps

The player is allowed to use a putting green map or other putting green information, except that:

Electronic or Digital Putting Green Maps

In electronic or digital form, any image of a putting green must meet the above scale and size limits. Even when an electronic or digital putting green map meets the above limits, the player is still in breach of Rule 4.3 if the player uses any device in a manner not consistent with the purpose of these limits, such as by:

4.3/1 – Player Breaches Rule 4.3 Between Holes; How to Apply the Penalty

For the first breach of Rule 4.3, the player gets the general penaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play. on the hole where the breach occurs. However, if the player breaches Rule 4.3 between the play of two holes, the penalty is applied to the next hole to be played.

For example, a player uses an alignment rod to check his or her swing plane between the play of two holes.

In match playMatch Play: A form of play where a player or side plays directly against an opponent or opposing side in a head-to-head match of one or more rounds:, the player loses the next hole or, in stroke playStroke Play: A form of play where a player or side competes against all other players or sides in the competition., he or she gets two penalty strokes and will start the next hole making his or her third strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball..