Rules Guy: Can I replace a broken driver shaft with a different flex than the one I started with?

Bryson DeChambeau broke his driver at the 2020 PGA Championship.

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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.

During a recent round, my driver shaft broke on a tee shot. I know that a replacement shaft can be substituted for a shaft broken in the course of play — but does that shaft have to be the identical make, model, length and flex? If not, could I replace the driver shaft with a shaft removed from my 3-wood? — Jim Scott, via email

Alas, Jim, it’s not just the shaft that has malfunctioned but your grip, too — your grip on the rules.

With no Local Rules in effect, you can’t replace a club you damage, accidentally or deliberately, during the round.

Per Rule 4.1a(2), you can repair the club, but you’re limited to its original grip, shaft and clubhead when doing so.

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Giving that driver a new shaft would, under Rule 4.1b, see the rebuilding of your club with a new part defined as replacing the club. That’s not allowed, under Rule 4.1b(3).

So why are we still seeing club replacements occur in competition? It’s due to the presence of Model Local Rule G-9, which allows a significantly damaged club to be replaced, providing the damage didn’t come about through abuse. (Old-timers might call this the “the Tommy Bolt rule.”)

Should you find yourself in this situation, the replacement shaft need not be the same make, model or length as the original — but it can’t come from parts you carried during the round, so leave that 3-wood of yours alone.

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Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to rulesguy@golf.com. We promise he won’t throw the book at you.

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