Rules Guy: Is it legal to practice chipping with a walnut in between shots?

walnuts in grass

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.

On our league course, there’s a par 3 with several walnut trees near the green. If you hit your ball over there in late summer or early fall, many walnuts, a bit larger than a golf ball, are scattered on the ground. Can I practice chipping them while waiting my turn? — Tony Brajdic, Sarver, Pa.

There are no nutty Rules questions, just nutty answers.

This one is simple: Walnuts, almonds and pecans are legal to chip; peanuts, cashews and macadamias are not… kidding!

Interpretation 5.5a/1 tells us that striking a natural object with a club isn’t considered a practice stroke and thus would be allowed.

Common sense tells us that chipping walnuts, while easier than chipping pistachios, will no more improve your short game than asking a squirrel for putting tips.

For more in-between-shots guidance from our guru, read on …

Rules Guy: Is it legal to accept a cart ride to a tee during a tournament?
By: Rules Guy

I have a metronome device that I use during my practice sessions. Can I use it during a round before making a shot — say, walking to my ball or between holes or waiting for my turn to putt — but not during the stroke? It looks to me like Rule 4.3(a) doesn’t specifically prohibit that type of use. But, of course, I want to be sure. — Maurice Levert, Courtenay, B.C., Canada

As it happens, Rules Guy has a metronome device that he uses during practice typing sessions — and yet the column still comes in fits and starts. Draw your own conclusion.

To your question: If the metronome is there to help your play (and, sorry, as purely background music it leaves much to be desired), it’s indeed a rules breach no matter whether it’s during or in between strokes.

It’s a tiered punishment, with the general penalty of two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play for the first breach, followed by disqualification for a second offense. Tsk … tsk … tsk … tsk.

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