Rules Guy: Does changing the volume setting on a hearing aid violate the rules?

man with hearing aid

What do the rules say about adjusting the volume on a hearing aid during a round?

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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.

The rules prohibit wearing earplugs when playing golf. I’m hearing impaired and wear over-the-ear hearing aids on the course — and I live in South Texas, where it’s almost constantly windy, so sometimes I shut off the hearing aids due to wind noise. Does this violate the rules? — Bill Ronecker, Alamo, Texas

Hear me loud and clear: It’s not a rules breach.

You won’t find said conclusion spelled out anywhere, but the USGA and R&A have previously determined that doing as you described does not contravene Rule 4.3a(4). Controlling your ball in the wind is difficult enough already.

For more device-related guidance from our guru, read on …

quiet sign
Rules Guy: Is it permissible to wear earplugs to block out background noise?
By: Rules Guy

Our club has green-reading contour books, but the print is so small that I can’t make out the details. I took a picture of each page with my cell phone in order to be able to enlarge the image enough to see the slopes.  A competitor called me out, citing a prohibition against electronics in tournament play. I said it was previously compiled material. Who was right in this blowup? — Scott Kulla, via email

In all-caps, bold-faced, oversized type: YOU! A player can access or review any material that was preprinted or created prior to the round. There is no issue with accessing that info on your iPhone

Still, it’s not always smart to reach for that smartphone. Calling a friend for advice or studying an analysis of strokes made during the round, as examples, would be operator errors and land you in hot water, Rules-wise … and placing the phone on a bed of dry rice wouldn’t fix it.

Need help unriddling the greens at your home course? Pick up a custom Green Book from 8 AM Golf affiliate Golf Logix.

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

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