New Rule: Under Rule 4.1:
- A player is allowed to keep using and/or to repair any club damaged during the round, no matter what the damage and even if the player damaged it in anger.
- A player is not allowed to replace a damaged club, except when it is damaged during the round by an outside influence or natural forces or by someone other than the player or his or her caddie.
Reasons for Change:
This Rule change greatly simplifies the complex Rules on damaged clubs.
In particular, deciding when a club was “unfit for play” required a technical judgment that few players had the depth of understanding to make, and even referees found it challenging to make such judgments quickly and consistently on the course.
Allowing a player to keep using or to repair any damaged club, regardless of the nature or cause of the damage, benefits players in several ways.
- It helps players avoid the disqualification penalties that could have arisen previously when a player hit a club against something in anger and then continued to use the club, not realizing that the shaft was slightly bent or some other damage had occurred.
- The player is able to choose whether to continue using that club in its damaged state or to use another club; whereas previously, for example, a player who damaged a putter in anger was not allowed to use it for the rest of the round (even if it was still in a usable form) and so ended up having to putt with a wedge or another club.
Although there will be times when a damaged club is unusable and cannot be readily repaired on the course (such as when a driver head comes off), the practical ability to get a replacement club is seldom present other than at some elite levels of golf.
This change is consistent with the overall philosophy that a player normally should play the entire round with only the clubs that he or she started with or added during the round to get to the 14-club limit.