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Too Many Clubs

Posted: 8/10/2013

What happens when a player discovers he has more than 14 clubs in his bag?

During the second round of the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y., Woody Austin was penalized four strokes under Rule 4-4a for breaching the 14-club limit.

Austin was playing his third hole of the day when he discovered his error. Rule 4-4a prohibits a player from starting a round with more than 14 clubs. In stroke play, the penalty for carrying more than 14 clubs is two strokes for each hole at which any breach occurred. So why wasn’t Austin penalized six strokes? Fortunately for him, the maximum penalty per round is four strokes. This turned his par (4) on the first hole into a double-bogey (6) and his bogey (5) on the second hole into a triple-bogey (7). The maximum penalty limitation meant he incurred no penalty on the third hole even though he was in breach of the Rule on that hole as well – see Decision 4-4a/10.   

Rule 4-4c also applied to Mr. Austin. It states, “Any club or clubs carried or used in breach of…Rule 4-4 must be declared out of play by the player to...his marker or a fellow-competitor in stroke play immediately upon discovery that a breach has occurred.” If he had failed to do this before he played another stroke in his round or if he used the club declared out of play subsequently in the round, he would have been disqualified under Rule 4-4c.

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