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Rules of Golf - Rule 4: Clubs

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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.

A player in doubt as to the conformity of a club should consult the USGA.

A manufacturer should submit to the USGA a sample of a club to be manufactured for a ruling as to whether the club conforms with the Rules. 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 club, the manufacturer assumes the risk of a ruling that the club does not conform with the Rules.

4-1. Form and Make of Clubs
• a. General
The player’s clubs must conform with this Rule and the provisions, specifications and interpretations set forth in Appendix II.

Note: The Committee may require, in the conditions of a competition (Rule 33-1), that any driver the player carries must have a clubhead, identified by model and loft, that is named on the current List of Conforming Driver Heads issued by the USGA.

• b. Wear and Alteration
A club that conforms with the Rules when new is deemed to conform after wear through normal use. Any part of a club that has been purposely altered is regarded as new and must, in its altered state, conform with the Rules.

4-2. Playing Characteristics Changed and Foreign Material
• a. Playing Characteristics Changed
During a stipulated round, the playing characteristics of a club must not be purposely changed by adjustment or by any other means.

• b. Foreign Material
Foreign material must not be applied to the club face for the purpose of influencing the movement of the ball.

*PENALTY FOR CARRYING, BUT NOT MAKING STROKE WITH, CLUB OR CLUBS IN BREACH OF RULE 4-1 or 4-2:
*Match play – At the conclusion of the hole at which the breach is discovered, the state of the match is adjusted by deducting one hole for each hole at which a breach occurred; maximum deduction per round – Two holes.
*Stroke play – Two strokes for each hole at which any breach occurred; maximum penalty per round – Four strokes (two strokes at each of the first two holes at which any breach occurred). *Match play or stroke play – If a breach is discovered between the play of two holes, it is deemed to have been discovered during play of the next hole, and the penalty must be applied accordingly.
*Bogey and par competitions – See Note 1 to Rule 32-1a.
*Stableford competitions – See Note 1 to Rule 32-1b.

Any club or clubs carried in breach of Rule 4-1 or 4–2 must be declared out of play by the player to his opponent in match play or his marker or a fellow-competitor in stroke play immediately upon discovery that a breach has occurred. If the player fails to do so, he is disqualified.

PENALTY FOR MAKING STROKE WITH CLUB IN BREACH OF RULE 4-1 or 4-2:
Disqualification.

4-3. Damaged Clubs: Repair and Replacement
• a. Damage in Normal Course of Play
If, during a stipulated round, a player’s club is damaged in the normal course of play, he may:

(i) use the club in its damaged state for the remainder of the stipulated round; or
(ii) without unduly delaying play, repair it or have it repaired; or
(iii) 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.

PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE 4-3a:
See Penalty Statements for Rule 4-4a or b, and Rule 4-4c.

Note: A club is unfit for play if it is substantially damaged, e.g., the shaft is dented, significantly bent or breaks into pieces; the clubhead becomes loose, detached or significantly deformed; or the grip becomes loose. A club is not unfit for play solely because the club’s lie or loft has been altered, or the clubhead is scratched.

• b. Damage Other Than in Normal Course of Play
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.

PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE 4-3b:
Disqualification.

• c. Damage Prior to Round
A player may use a club damaged prior to a round, provided the club, in its damaged state, conforms with the Rules.

Damage to a club that occurred prior to a round may be repaired during the round, provided the playing characteristics are not changed and play is not unduly delayed.

PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE 4-3c:
See Penalty Statement for Rule 4-1 or 4-2.

(Undue delay – see Rule 6-7)

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