"Do You Sell Hand Warmers?"

It was 42 degrees and the wind was gusting to 40 mph when we arrived for the final round of the Women’s International Four-Ball Championship being conducted at The Wanderers Club in Wellington, Florida. After a one year hiatus from the Orange Blossom Circuit of women’s amateur golf tournaments in Florida, the Florida State Golf Association is attempting to restore the one time prestigious event back to its former standing.

The first tee time was 8:00 AM and within 45 minutes the golf professional shop had sold out of hats and gloves. There was one product that they had a good supply of that was selling like hot cakes. It was “HotHands®” hand warmers. The literature said they were air activated and would provide up to ten hours of soothing warmth inside gloves, pockets or wherever you feel a chill. That sure sounded good to many of the full field of 96 women participating in the resurgent event as demonstrated by the brisk sales; but not so good to officials of the event.

The distinct possibility that someone may just tuck there ball into their pocket along with their HotHands® warmer troubled officials.

The Rules of Golf do allow a person to use a hand warmer during their round to keep their hands warm. It is considered a traditionally accepted use of equipment. However, the Rules of Golf do not allow a golf ball that has been purposely warmed during a stipulated round to be used. That would be a breach of Rule 14-3 and a penalty of disqualification. Decision 14-3/13.5 specifically addresses this issue.

The restriction on warming a golf ball purposely by an artificial device is limited to during the stipulated round. Therefore, a golf ball that was placed in a microwave before the round would be perfectly within the Rules. Also note the word purposely is used to exclude the incidental act of someone slipping their ball inside their pocket momentarily.

A golf ball that has been warmed without the use of an artificial device is perfectly OK to use. Whether you place it in your mouth or hands, under your arm in your armpit or sit on it like an incubating egg, you would still be able to use it without penalty. No wonder officials were nervous!

Remember, use the index or the table of contents to find the correct Rule that applies to the situation and follow the Rules of Golf to help yourself to enjoy the game of golf.

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