The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.
I know it’s against the rules to adjust my adjustable driver during a round, but is it illegal to carry an extra shaft as my 14th “club” and change shafts mid-round? —Frank Ballatore, Naples, Fla.
I suspect you are either a lawyer or a mechanic, Frank. This is a clever conceit worthy of a clever answer.
Here goes: The act of changing out the shaft wouldn’t get you in trouble … until you make a stroke with the club, at which point you’d be penalized (the exact penalty depending upon what exactly you did, ranging from the general penalty per hole with a maximum of 4 strokes in stroke play or adjustment to the match in match play with a maximum of 2 holes to disqualification).
Under Rule 4.1b(4), even in situations where you’re allowed to add or replace a club, you can’t do so using parts carried by or for the player.
For more shaft-related guidance from our guru, read on …
During a tournament match, my partner slammed his driver in frustration after a big slice, shattering the shaft just above the hosel adapter. Luckily, the manufacturer of his driver was onsite doing a demo day, and we were about to make the turn; my partner was able to switch in a new shaft on the spot. I know he can repair a club damaged during a round, but does getting a new shaft to plug into the original clubhead constitute a repair or a replacement?
—Robert Black, Johns Creek, Ga.
Your angry partner’s lucky streak has snapped, too.
In the latest Rules update, you can keep using, or repair without unreasonable delay, a damaged club under Rule 4.1a(2)—no matter how the damage occurred. So far, so good … except “repairing” a club is limited to its original components, so switching in a new shaft would go beyond what’s allowed in repairing the club.
The new Model Local Rule G-9 excludes replacing a club damaged by an act of anger or abuse. In these circumstances, any stroke made with a replaced club would result in disqualification (although there’s no penalty for carrying the incorrectly repaired club and then not using it for the rest of the round). Rules Guy shudders to think how angry that DQ would make him.
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