Club Damaged In Normal Course of Play


Frank Guastella PGA Rules Coach

What happens during a round of play if one of your clubs becomes damaged during the course of play?  Rule 4 -3: Damaged Clubs: Repair and Replacement talks about damage in the normal course of play and damage other than in the normal course of play.  So what constitutes the “Normal Course of Play”?

The term “Normal Course of Play” is meant to cover all REASONABLE acts but specifically excludes cases of abuse.  In addition to making a stroke, practice swing or practice stroke, examples of acts that are in the “normal course of play” include: a.) removing or replacing a club in a bag; b.) using a club to search for or retrieve a ball (except by throwing a club); c.) leaning on a club while waiting to play, teeing a ball or removing a ball from the hole; d.) accidentally dropping a club.

Examples of acts that are not in the “normal course of play” include: a.) throwing a club whether in anger, in retrieving a ball or otherwise; b.) “slamming” a club into a bag; c.) intentionally striking something (e.g. the round or a tree) with the club other than during a stroke, practice swing or practice stroke.

As long as the club was damaged in the normal course of play, a player may: a.) use the club in its damaged state for the remainder of the stipulated round; b.) without unduly delaying play, repair it or have it repaired; c.) as an additional option available only if the club is unfit for play, replace the damaged club with any club.  The replacement of a club must not unduly delay play (Rule 6-7) and must not be made by borrowing any club selected for play by any other person playing on the course or by assembling components carried by or for the player during the stipulated round.

If, during a stipulated round, a player’s club is damaged other than in the normal course of play rendering it non-conforming or changing its playing characteristics, the club must not subsequently be used or replaced during the round.

If you have a question on the Rules of Golf, please submit it Mike Fay Golf and I hope you are “Playing By The Rules”.

Frank Guastella, PGA Rules Official Michigan Section PGA
Staff Writer, Mike Fay Golf
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