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GOLF RULES & ETIQUETTE SIMPLIFIED
What You Need to Know to Walk the Links Like a Pro
By John Companiotte
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2012The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
All rights reserved.
* Each golfer may carry a maximum of 14 clubs. (Rule 4-4a in The Rules of Golf)
Breaches of the Rules on a municipal course on a Saturday afternoon in July usually do not receive recognition through worldwide coverage. When a Rules incident occurs in a major championship everyone knows about it, especially if the incident affects the outcome of who wins. In the final round of the 2001 British Open Ian Woosnam and his caddie made a mistake that contributed to his not winning. Woosnam had been practicing before the round with two drivers trying to determine which one he would use for the day. When he finished with driving practice he went to the chipping and putting practice area and continued there. Then he and his caddie hurried to the first tee. Unfortunately, neither Woosnam nor his caddie counted the number of clubs in his bag upon arrival at the first tee. The first hole was a par 3, and Woosnam put his tee shot within less than a foot of the hole. He birdied the hole and proceeded to the next tee. That was when his caddie, when pulling the driver from the bag, realized that he was still carrying both drivers and therefore had 15 clubs in his bag. Woosnam received a two-stroke penalty for the mistake. He made bogey in two out of the next three holes. Woosnam finished the British Open four shots behind the winner, David Duval.
* If you discover that you have more than 14 clubs in your bag, remove the extra clubs before the round.
* If you start a round and then discover that you have too many clubs, you must declare the additional clubs to be out of play. (Rule 4-4c)
One way of ensuring that the club will remain identified as unplayable during the round is to insert it upside down in the golf bag so that the handle protrudes from the bag and the clubhead is at the bottom of the bag. That is not a necessity that is part of the Rules, but it will prevent the club from being used inadvertently. What is necessary if a player discovers that there are too many clubs in the bag is to announce to other players that the club or clubs are not in play for the stipulated round.
* There is no official set of 14 clubs. A golfer may carry a putter, 3-through 9-irons (seven clubs), pitching wedge, sand wedge, lob wedge, and three woods. Another variation might be putter, 1- through 9-irons (nine clubs), pitching wedge, sand wedge, putter, and two woods. The selection of clubs is up to the player, including carrying two putters if that seems productive, 5-through 9-irons (five clubs), sand wedge, and six woods (driver, 3-wood, 4-wood, 5-wood, 7-wood, and 9-wood).
* A player may not alter the playing characteristics of a club through a round, such as adding lead tape to the back of a clubhead. (Rule 4-2a)
Changing the characteristics of a club is not restricted to cosmetic changes. If a player is twirling a club to pass the time prior to teeing off on the third hole and the club lands on the golf cart and the shaft is broken, that would be considered to be done outside the normal course of play. That is not allowed. When a club is damaged during a round, other than in the normal course of play, then the club must be removed from play from that stipulated round.
* Nothing can be applied to the face of a club to affect the movement of the ball. (Rule 4-2b)
In the 1930s some professional golfers applied substances such as Vaseline to the surface of their driver to achieve less spin on the ball coming off the clubface. In the current era, with the golf ball contributing so much to length, players have technology on their side and tricks aren't necessary to achieve unusual effects for the flight of the golf ball.
* If a club is damaged during the normal course of play a golfer has three options:
Use the damaged club as is for that stipulated round.
Repair the club during the round without delaying play.
Replace the club without undue delay of the round. (Rule 4-3a)
* If a player damages a club intentionally (bending the shaft, breaking off the clubhead, etc.), then that club may not be used through the remainder of the round.
Byron Nelson used the same putter to win 8 PGA Tour events in 1944, 18 in 1945, and then 6 during 1946 before retiring at the end of that year from the Tour. His friend and four-ball partner on Tour, Harold "Jug" McSpaden, witnessed Nelson make this remarkable string of victories. In fact, McSpaden set a record for most second-place finishes in a calendar year on Tour in 1945 with 13. After Nelson announced his retirement he put away his golf clubs and spent his time tending to his ranch in Roanoke, Texas, 20 miles northeast of Fort Worth. Thinking that Nelson no longer needed his magical putter, McSpaden asked to borrow it. Unlike the even-tempered Nelson, McSpaden could become upset on the golf course when things didn't go his way. Though warned by Nelson not to damage his favorite putter, McSpaden in a fit of anger broke off the head of the club. Nelson couldn't get too mad at him, though. McSpaden had named his son Byron after him.CHAPTER 2
* Nothing shall be done to alter the surface character of a ball to change its playing characteristics.
* Players should mark their ball prior to a round so that easy identification of the ball is possible while on the golf course.
Marking a golf ball prior to a round becomes important if a ball must be identified in a situation that could result in a more severe penalty if the ball cannot be identified. An example would be if a golf ball became lodged in a portion of a tree that is not reachable by the golfer in order to make a shot. If the golfer cannot confirm that the ball is his or hers by pointing out the identifying marks, then the ball is determined to be lost.
* If as a result of a stroke a ball comes apart, then the stroke is canceled and a player must replace that ball without penalty.
* Mud that collects on a ball after a shot anywhere on the course other than the putting green cannot be removed. On the green, the ball may be cleaned, though the player must place a ball marker by the ball prior to lifting the ball.CHAPTER 3
On the Driving Range
* Silence cell phones while on the driving range.
Cell phones have become omnipresent. However important it is to receive certain phone calls, since it cannot be predicted when the phone might ring, it is unfair to other golfers to insist that they tolerate a disruption to their golf swing, even on the practice tee. The disruption of a cell phone's ring may seem minor, unless you have downloaded the ring tone to Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression" to alert you when you have a call. Even worse is someone discussing plans for a movie after the round for 15 minutes while everyone else on the practice tee must listen to one end of the conversation. Other golfers are due no disruptions in their round. The world functioned well enough prior to the era of cell phones, and you can function without yours for four hours.
* Do not stand too close to other players.
Although some practice tees may have a row of talented golfers who would not swing a club wildly nor do something else foolish, accidents do happen. A clubhead can break off during a swing, or a ball can be hit si
Excerpted from GOLF RULES & ETIQUETTE SIMPLIFIED by John Companiotte. Copyright © 2012 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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