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Practice and Training Aids

Posted: 5/29/2013

Are training aids allowed on a practice putting green while waiting to play?

When a two-tee start is used at a tournament, groups may arrive at their 10th hole before all the groups who are starting from that tee have begun play. This can cause a delay for those groups. The Rules of Golf provide some opportunity for players to stay loose in such a situation.  While they may not go to the driving range and hit balls, Rule 7-2–Practice; During Round does allow players to practice putting or chipping on or near any practice putting green as long as play is not unduly delayed.

During the third round of the 2013 Colonial Plaza Invitational at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, there was a multi-group backup at the 10thtee for players making the turn.   Players who were delayed at the 10th tee were reminded by PGA Tour officials that they could go to the practice putting green while waiting to play.

Among those who took advantage of this opportunity was Jeff Overton.  Unfortunately, while Overton was practice putting, he also used a practice putting aid. Rule 14-3 Striking the Ball; Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment And Unusual Use of Equipment prohibits the use of an artificial device or unusual equipment during the stipulated round that might assist the player in making a stroke or in his play.  Training aids such as alignment rods or swing aids are artificial devices as noted in Decisions 14-3/10 and 14-3/10.3. The penalty for using unusual equipment in this manner during the stipulated round is disqualification. Overton’s use of the aid was brought to the attention of the PGA Tour’s Rules Committee by another player.  While he was playing the 11th hole, he was asked about the use of his putting aid and after stating that he had used it, was informed the penalty was disqualification.

One of the principles of the Rules is that we are required to play our own game and not use outside assistance (beyond a caddie) or devices to assist us in that play. For this reason, the use of any form of training aid during a round is prohibited.

The USGA will provide up to two Rules of Golf books for minimal shipping and handling charge.  Please contact the USGA Order Department at 1-800-336-4446, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) or go to the USGA Shop on usga.org.

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