Rule 25 - Modifications for Players with Disabilities

Purpose of Rule: Rule 25 provides modifications to certain Rules of Golf to allow players with specific disabilities to play fairly with players who have no disabilities, the same disability or a different type of disability.

25.1 Overview

Rule 25 applies to all competitions, including all forms of play. It is a player’s category of disability and eligibility that determine whether they can use the specific modified Rules in Rule 25.

Rule 25  modifies certain Rules for players in the following categories of disability:

It is recognized that there are many players with other types of disabilities (such as players with neurological conditions, players with orthopaedic conditions, players of short stature and players who are deaf). These additional categories of disability are not covered in Rule 25   as, to date, no requirement has been identified for modification of the Rules of Golf for these players.

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.  apply without modification, except as provided in Section 7 of 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. . For information on the use of equipmentEquipment: Anything used, worn, held or carried by the player or the player’s caddie.(...Continued) (other than a club or a ball) for medical reasons, see Rule 4.3b.

See Committee Procedures, Section 5D (for guidance on player eligibility, and for additional guidance on Rule 25 and competitions involving players with disabilities).

25.2 Modifications for Players Who Are Blind

Purpose of Rule: Rule 25.2 allows a player who is blind (which includes certain levels of visual impairment) to be assisted by both an aide and a caddie at the same time, allows help with aiming, gives the player a limited exception to the prohibitions on touching sand in a bunker with a club and allows help with lifting, dropping, placing and replacing a ball.

a. Help from an Aide

A player who is blind may get help from an aide:

An aide has the same status under the Rules as a caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:(...Continued) (see Rule 10.3), but with the exceptions described in Rule 25.2e.

For purposes of Rule 10.2a (Advice), a player may ask for and get adviceAdvice: Any verbal comment or action (such as showing what club was just used to make a stroke) that is intended to influence a player in:(...Continued) from both an aide and a caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:(...Continued) at the same time.

b. Player Allowed Only One Aide

A player who is blind may have only one aide at a time.

If the player has more than one aide at a time, the player gets the general penalty General Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.  for each hole where that breach happened, in the same way as provided in Rule 10.3a(1) (Player Allowed Only One Caddie at a Time).

c. Modification of Rule 10.2b(3) (No Setting Down Object to Help With Aiming, Taking Stance or Swinging)

Rule 10.2b(3) is modified so that there is no penalty if the player, caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:(...Continued) or aide sets an object down to help with aiming or to help in taking a stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke.(...Continued) for the strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued) to be made (such as a club set down on the ground to show where the player should aim or position their feet). But the object must be removed before the strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued) is made. If it is not, the player gets the general penaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play. for a breach of Rule 10.2b(3).

d. Modification of Rule 10.2b(4) (Restricted Area for Caddie Before Player Makes Stroke)

Rule 10.2b(4) is modified so that there is no penalty if the aide or caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:(...Continued)  is positioned on or close to an extension of the line of playLine of Play: The line where the player intends their ball to go after a stroke, including the area on that line that is a reasonable distance up above the ground and on either side of that line.(...Continued) behind the ball at any time before or during the player’s strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued), so long as the aide or caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:(...Continued) does not help the player in making the strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued).

e. Modification of Rule 10.3 (Caddies)

The aide of a player who is blind may also serve as the player’s caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:(...Continued), but is not required to do so.

The player may have both an aide and a caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:(...Continued) at the same time, in which case:

f. Modification of Rule 12.2b(1) (When Touching Sand Results in Penalty)

Before making a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued) at their ball in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued), a player who is blind may, without penalty, touch sand in the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued) with a club:

But in doing so, the player must not improve Improve: To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke. the lieLie: The spot on which a ball is at rest and any growing or attached natural object, immovable obstruction, integral object, or boundary object touching the ball or right next to it.(...Continued) of the ball more than would result from lightly grounding the club.

The player remains subject to the prohibitions in Rule 12.2b(1) on deliberately touching the sand in the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued) to test the condition of the sand and touching the sand with a club in making a practice swing.

g. Modification of Rule 14.1b (Who May Lift Ball)

When a player’s ball lies on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that:(...Continued), Rule 14.1b is modified so that the player’s aide, in addition to their caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:(...Continued), may lift the ball without the player’s authorization.

h. Help with Dropping, Placing and Replacing Ball

For a player who is blind, all Rules that require the player to dropDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play.(...Continued), place or replaceReplace: To place a ball by setting it down by hand and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.(...Continued) a ball are modified so that the player is also allowed, without limitation, to give a general authorization to any other person to dropDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play.(...Continued), place and replaceReplace: To place a ball by setting it down by hand and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.(...Continued) their ball.

25.3  Modifications for Players Who Are Amputees

Purpose of Rule: Rule 25.3 allows a player who is an amputee (which means both those with limb deficiencies and those who have lost a limb) to use a prosthetic device and make a stroke while anchoring the club, and allows help with dropping, placing and replacing a ball.

a. Status of Prosthetic Devices

Use of an artificial arm or leg is not a breach of Rule 4.3 provided the player has a medical reason to use it and the CommitteeCommittee: The person or group in charge of the competition or the course. decides that its use does not give the player any unfair advantage over other players (see Rule 4.3b). Players in doubt about the use of a device should raise the matter as soon as possible with the CommitteeCommittee: The person or group in charge of the competition or the course..

A player using a prosthetic device is still subject to the prohibitions in Rule 4.3a  against using equipment in an abnormal way.

b. Modification of Rule 10.1b (Anchoring the Club)

If a player who is an amputee is unable to hold and swing the majority of their clubs without anchoring because of limb deficiencies or limb loss, the player may make a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued) while anchoring the club, without penalty under Rule 10.1b.

c. Help with Dropping, Placing and Replacing Ball

For a player who is an amputee, all Rules that require the player to dropDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play.(...Continued), place or replaceReplace: To place a ball by setting it down by hand and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.(...Continued) a ball are modified so that the player is also allowed, without limitation, to give a general authorization to any other person to replaceReplace: To place a ball by setting it down by hand and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.(...Continued), place and replaceReplace: To place a ball by setting it down by hand and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.(...Continued) their ball.

d. Modification of Definition of “Replace”

For a player who is an amputee, the definition of replaceReplace: To place a ball by setting it down by hand and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.(...Continued) (and Rule 14.2b(2)) is modified to allow the player to replaceReplace: To place a ball by setting it down by hand and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.(...Continued) the ball either by hand or by using another piece of equipmentEquipment: Anything used, worn, held or carried by the player or the player’s caddie.(...Continued) (such as rolling the ball with a club).

25.4  Modifications for Players Who Use Assistive Mobility Devices

Purpose of Rule: Rule 25.4 allows a player who uses an assistive mobility device to be assisted by both an aide and a caddie at the same time, explains how a player may use an assistive mobility device (such as a wheelchair or other wheeled mobility device or a cane or a crutch) to help in taking a stance and making a stroke, and modifies certain relief procedures.

Rules 25.4a to 25.4l apply to all assistive mobility devices, including canes, crutches, wheelchairs and other wheeled mobility devices.

Rules 25.4m and 25.4n apply only to wheelchairs and other wheeled mobility devices.

a. Help from an Aide or Any Other Person

A player who uses an assistive mobility device may get help from an aide or any other person, including another player, in these ways:

b. Advice from an Aide

A player who uses an assistive mobility device may ask for and get adviceAdvice: Any verbal comment or action (such as showing what club was just used to make a stroke) that is intended to influence a player in:(...Continued) from their aide in the same way that a player asks for and gets advice from a caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:(...Continued) under Rule 10.2a (Advice).

An aide has the same status under the Rules as a caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:(...Continued) (see Rule 10.3), but with the exceptions described in Rule 25.4j.

For purposes of Rule 10.2a, a player may ask for and get adviceAdvice: Any verbal comment or action (such as showing what club was just used to make a stroke) that is intended to influence a player in:(...Continued) from both an aide and a caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:(...Continued) at the same time.

c. Player Allowed Only One Aide

A player who uses an assistive mobility device may have only one aide at a time.

If the player has more than one aide at a time, the player gets the general penaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play. for each hole where that breach happened, in the same way as provided in Rule 10.3a(1) (Player Allowed Only One Caddie at a Time).

d. Modification of Definition of “Stance”

A player’s use of an assistive mobility device may affect their stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke.(...Continued) for the purposes of various Rules, such as in determining the area of intended stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke.(...Continued) under Rule 8.1a  and deciding if there is interference by an abnormal course conditionAbnormal Course Condition: Any of these four defined conditions: under Rule 16.1.

To address this, the definition of stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke.(...Continued) is modified to mean “the position of a player’s feet and body, and the position of an assistive mobility device if one is used, in preparing for or making a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued) ”.

e. Modification of Definition of “Replace”

For players who use an assistive mobility device, the definition of replaceReplace: To place a ball by setting it down by hand and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.(...Continued) (and Rule 14.2b(2)) is expanded to allow the player to replace the ball either by hand or by using another piece of equipmentEquipment: Anything used, worn, held or carried by the player or the player’s caddie.(...Continued) (such as rolling the ball with a club).

f. Application of Rule 4.3 (Use of Equipment)

Rule 4.3 applies to the use of assistive mobility devices:

g. Modification of Rule 8.1b(5) to Allow Use of an Assistive Mobility Device in Taking a Stance

Under Rule 8.1b(5), there is no penalty if a player improves the conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. by firmly placing the feet in taking a stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke.(...Continued), “including a reasonable amount of digging in with the feet in sand”.

For a player who uses an assistive mobility device, Rule 8.1b(5)  is modified so that a “reasonable amount of digging in with the feet” includes:

But this modification does not allow the player to go beyond that by building a stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke.(...Continued) so that the assistive mobility device will not slip during the swing, such as by creating a raised mound of soil or sand against which to brace the device.

If the player does so, they get the general penaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play. for altering the surface of the ground to build a stanceStance: The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke.(...Continued) in breach of Rule 8.1a(3).

h. Modification of Rule 10.1b (Anchoring the Club)

If a player is unable to hold and swing the majority of their clubs without anchoring because of the use of an assistive mobility device, the player may make a stroke while anchoring the club, without penalty under Rule 10.1b.

i. Modification of Rule 10.1c (Making Stroke while Standing Across or on Line of Play)

To take account of a player’s use of an assistive mobility device, Rule 10.1c is modified such that the player must also not make a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued) with any part of their assistive mobility device deliberately placed on each side of or touching the line of playLine of Play: The line where the player intends their ball to go after a stroke, including the area on that line that is a reasonable distance up above the ground and on either side of that line.(...Continued) or an extension of that line behind the ball.

j. Modification of Rule 10.3 (Caddies)

The aide of a player using an assistive mobility device may also serve as the player’s caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:(...Continued), but is not required to do so.

The player may have both an aide and a caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:(...Continued) at the same time, in which case:

k. Modification of Rule 11.1b(2)

For players who use an assistive mobility device, Rule 11.1b(2) is modified so that if a player’s ball in motion played from a putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that:(...Continued) accidentally hits the assistive mobility device, the ball must be played as it lies.

l. Application of Rule 12.2b(1) in Using Assistive Mobility Device to Test Conditions of Sand in Bunker

Under Rule 12.2b(1), a player must not “deliberately touch the sand in the bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued)  with a hand, club, rake or other object to test the condition of the sand to learn information about the next strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued) ”.

This applies to using an assistive mobility device to deliberately test the condition of the sand.

But the player may touch the sand with their assistive mobility device for any other purpose, without penalty.

m. For Player Using Wheeled Mobility Device: Modification of Lateral Relief Option for Ball in Red Penalty Area and for Unplayable Ball

When a player with a wheeled mobility device takes lateral relief for a ball in a red penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there.(...Continued) or for an unplayable ball, Rules 17.1d(3) and 19.2c are modified to expand the size of the allowed relief areaRelief Area: The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. With the exception of back-on-the-line relief (see Rules 16.1c(2), 17.1d(2), 19.2b and 19.3), each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors:(...Continued) from using two club-lengthsClub-Length: The length of the longest club of the 14 (or fewer) clubs the player has during the round (as allowed by Rule 4.1b(1)), other than a putter.(...Continued) for measurement to using four club-lengthsClub-Length: The length of the longest club of the 14 (or fewer) clubs the player has during the round (as allowed by Rule 4.1b(1)), other than a putter.(...Continued) for measurement.

n. For Player Using Wheeled Mobility Device: Modification of Penalty Under Rule 19.3b (Unplayable Ball Relief in Bunker)

When a player with a wheeled mobility device takes relief for an unplayable ball in a bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued), Rule 19.3b is modified so that the player may take back-on-the-line relief outside that bunkerBunker: A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.(...Continued) for one penalty stroke.

25.5  Modifications for Players With Intellectual Disabilities

Purpose of Rule: Rule 25.5 allows a player with intellectual disability to be assisted by both an aide and a caddie at the same time, and clarifies the role of a supervisor, who is not assigned to a specific player and is not allowed to give advice.

a. Help from an Aide or Supervisor

The extent of help that players with intellectual disabilities may need will be specific to each individual.

The CommitteeCommittee: The person or group in charge of the competition or the course. may provide or allow for an aide or supervisor to help players with intellectual disabilities:

b. Player Allowed Only One Aide

A player with an intellectual disability may have only one aide at a time.

If a player has more than one aide at a time, the player gets the general penaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play. for each hole where that breach happened, in the same way as provided in Rule 10.3a(1) (Player Allowed Only One Caddie at a Time).

c. Modification of Rule 10.3 (Caddies)

The aide for a player with an intellectual disability may also serve as the player’s caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:(...Continued), but is not required to do so.

The player may have both an aide and a caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:(...Continued) at the same time, in which case:

d. Modification of Rule 14.1b (Who May Lift Ball)

When a player’s ball lies on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that:(...Continued), Rule 14.1b is modified so that the player’s aide, in addition to their caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:(...Continued), may lift the ball without the player’s authorization.

e. Players with Both Intellectual and Physical Disabilities

For players with both intellectual and physical disabilities, it is recommended that the CommitteeCommittee: The person or group in charge of the competition or the course. use a combination of the Rules in Rule 25 so that both types of disabilities are addressed.

25.6 General Provisions for All Categories of Disability

a. Unreasonable Delay

In applying Rule 5.6a ’s prohibition on unreasonable delay to players with disabilities:

b. Dropping

In applying Rule 14.3b (Ball Must Be Dropped in Right Way), because physical limitations may make it difficult or impossible for players with certain disabilities to know whether they have droppedDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play.(...Continued) the ball from knee height, the CommitteeCommittee: The person or group in charge of the competition or the course.  should accept the player’s reasonable judgment that they have done so. Also, the CommitteeCommittee: The person or group in charge of the competition or the course. should accept all reasonable efforts to dropDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play.(...Continued) the ball from knee height, taking into account the player’s physical limitations.

See Committee Procedures, Section 5D (providing additional guidance on Rule 25 and competitions involving players with disabilities).