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Rules of Golf - Rule 14: Striking the Ball

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The Official Rules of Golf appear on the About.com Golf site courtesy of the USGA, are used with permission, and may not be reprinted without the permission of the USGA.

14-1. Ball to be Fairly Struck At
The ball must be fairly struck at with the head of the club and must not be pushed, scraped or spooned.

14-2. Assistance
• a. Physical Assistance and Protection from Elements
A player must not make a stroke while accepting physical assistance or protection from the elements.

• b. Positioning of Caddie or Partner Behind Ball
A player must not make a stroke with his caddie, his partner or his partner’s caddie positioned on or close to an extension of the line of play or line of putt behind the ball.

Exception: There is no penalty if the player’s caddie, his partner or his partner’s caddie is inadvertently located on or close to an extension of the line of play or line of putt behind the ball.

PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE 14-1 or 14-2:
Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.

14-3. Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Unusual Use of Equipment
The USGA reserves the right, at any time, to change the Rules relating to artificial devices, unusual equipment and the unusual use of equipment, and to make or change the interpretations relating to these Rules.

A player in doubt as to whether use of an item would constitute a breach of Rule 14-3 should consult the USGA.

A manufacturer should submit to the USGA a sample of an item to be manufactured for a ruling as to whether its use during a stipulated round would cause a player to be in breach of Rule 14-3. The sample becomes the property of the USGA for reference purposes. If a manufacturer fails to submit a sample or, having submitted a sample, fails to await a ruling before manufacturing and/or marketing the item, the manufacturer assumes the risk of a ruling that use of the item would be contrary to the Rules.

Except as provided in the Rules, during a stipulated round the player must not use any artificial device or unusual equipment (see Appendix IV for detailed specifications and interpretations), or use any equipment in an unusual manner:

a. That might assist him in making a stroke or in his play; or
b. For the purpose of gauging or measuring distance or conditions that might affect his play; or
c. That might assist him in gripping the club, except that:
   (i) gloves may be worn provided that they are plain gloves;
   (ii) resin, powder and drying or moisturizing agents may be used; and
   (iii) a towel or handkerchief may be wrapped around the grip.

Exceptions:
1. A player is not in breach of this Rule if (a) the equipment or device is designed for or has the effect of alleviating a medical condition, (b) the player has a legitimate medical reason to use the equipment or device, and (c) the Committee is satisfied that its use does not give the player any undue advantage over other players.

2. A player is not in breach of this Rule if he uses equipment in a traditionally accepted manner.

PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE 14-3:
Disqualification.

Note: The Committee may make a Local Rule allowing players to use devices that measure or gauge distance only.

14-4. Striking the Ball More Than Once
If a player’s club strikes the ball more than once in the course of a stroke, the player must count the stroke and add a penalty stroke, making two strokes in all.

14-5. Playing Moving Ball
A player must not make a stroke at his ball while it is moving.

Exceptions:
• Ball falling off tee – Rule 11-3
• Striking the ball more than once – Rule 14-4
• Ball moving in water – Rule 14-6

When the ball begins to move only after the player has begun the stroke or the backward movement of his club for the stroke, he incurs no penalty under this Rule for playing a moving ball, but he is not exempt from any penalty under the following Rules:

• Ball at rest moved by player – Rule 18-2a
• Ball at rest moving after address – Rule 18-2b

(Ball purposely deflected or stopped by player, partner or caddie – see Rule 1-2)

14-6. Ball Moving in Water
When a ball is moving in water in a water hazard, the player may, without penalty, make a stroke, but he must not delay making his stroke in order to allow the wind or current to improve the position of the ball. A ball moving in water in a water hazard may be lifted if the player elects to invoke Rule 26.

©USGA, used with permission

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