Rule 4 - The Player's Equipment
Rule 4 - The Player's Equipment
4.1a(1)/1 – Wear Through Normal Use Does Not Change Conformity
Normal use includes strokes, practice strokes 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:
Material inside a clubhead has broken loose and may rattle during the stroke or when the head is shaken.
A wear mark has formed on the club’s grip where the thumbs are placed.
A depression is formed on the club face through repeated use.
The grooves on the club’s face are worn.
4.1a(1)/2 – No Penalty for Stroke with Non-Conforming Club When Stroke Disregarded
If a player makes a stroke with a non-conforming club, the player is not disqualified if the stroke does not count in the player’s score.
Examples of when the player gets no penalty for making a stroke with a non-conforming club include when:
The player used the club to make a stroke at a provisional ball, but it never became the ball in play.
The player used the club to make a stroke, but the stroke was cancelled.
The player used the club to make a stroke at a second ball under Rule 20.1c(3), but that ball was not the ball that counted for his or her score.
4.1a(2)/1 – Meaning of “Repair”
Examples of repair include:
Replacing lead tape that fell off during a stroke. Given the nature of lead tape, if the lead tape will not remain on the club in the same location, new tape may be used.
Tightening clubs with adjustable mechanisms that come loose during the round, but not adjusting the club to a different setting.
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 round 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 roun d 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 caddie, or any other person he or she asks to carry clubs.
For example, if a player begins the round 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 round, the player is considered to have started the round 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 stroke 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 round 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 stroke with any club.
4.1b(2)/1 – Multiple Players May Carry Clubs in One Bag
The Rules do not restrict multiple players (such as partners) 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 strokes that count in a player’s score. It does not apply to practice swings, practice strokes or strokes 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 green 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 round ” 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 opponent tees off, the opponent becomes aware that he or she is carrying 15 clubs in breach of Rule 4.1b(1). Since the opponent 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.
4.2a(1)/1 – Status of Ball Not on List of Conforming Golf Balls
In a competition in which the Committee 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:
Brands and models that have never been tested – these are presumed to conform and the onus of proof is on the person alleging that the ball does not conform.
Brands and models that appeared on a previous List but have not been re-submitted for inclusion on the current List – these are presumed to continue to conform.
However, brands and models that have been tested and found not to conform to the Equipment Rules 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 Rules:
“X-Out” is the common name used for a golf ball that a manufacturer considers to be imperfect (often for aesthetic reasons only, such as paint or printing errors) and, therefore, has crossed out the brand name. ”Refurbished” refers to a second-hand golf ball that has been cleaned and stamped as “refurbished” or a similar stamping.
In the absence of strong evidence to suggest that an “X-Out” or “refurbished” ball does not conform to the E quipment Rules, a player is allowed to use it.
However, if the Committee has adopted the List of Conforming Golf Balls as a Local Rule, such a ball must not be used even if the identification markings on the ball in question appear on the List.
“Practice” balls are typically listed, conforming golf balls that have been stamped “Practice” or with a similar stamping. “Practice” balls are treated in the same way as golf balls that feature a golf club or course, company, school or other logo.
Such balls may be used even where the Committee has adopted the List of Conforming Golf Balls as a Local Rule.
4.2a(1)/3 – No Penalty for Playing Non-Conforming Ball When Stroke Is Disregarded
If a player makes a stroke 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 stroke 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:
As a provisional ball, but the provisional ball never becomes the ball in play.
When the stroke with that ball is cancelled.
As a second ball under Rule 20.1c(3), but that ball is not the ball that counts for his or her score.
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 equipment that a player may not use in judging a slope or contour.
For example, a player is not allowed to gauge slope by:
Placing a bottled drink to act as a level.
Holding or placing a bubble level.
Using a weight suspended on a string as a plumb line.
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 stroke, 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:
to any stroke a player makes from the putting green, and
to a stroke made with a putter from anywhere when the player’s intention is for the ball to come to rest on the putting green.
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:
Any image of a putting green must be limited to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480) or smaller (the “scale limit”);
Any book or other paper containing a map or image of a putting green must not be larger than 4 ¼ inches x 7 inches (the “size limit”), although a “hole location sheet” that displays 9 or more holes on a single sheet of paper may be larger, provided that any image of a single putting green meets the scale limit;
No magnification of putting green information is allowed other than a player’s normal wearing of prescription glasses or lenses;
Hand drawn or written information about a putting green is only allowed if contained in a book or paper meeting the size limit and written by the player and/or his or her caddie.
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:
Increasing the size of the green’s representation beyond the scale or size limits;
Producing a recommended line of play based on the location (or estimated location) of the player’s ball (see Rule 4.3a(1)).
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 penalty 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 play, the player loses the next hole or, in stroke play, he or she gets two penalty strokes and will start the next hole making his or her third stroke.