Can I Replace that Club?

At the recent Boys Junior Championship conducted at Sara Bay Country Club in Sarasota and Bradenton Country Club in Bradenton, a player had the misfortune of having one of his clubs get stuck in a metal grate on the course. Apparently, he was walking along using the club as a cane when the grip end when down into the grate. He was unable to retrieve it and was forced to continue without it.

The question becomes, “Is he able to replace the club”?

Provided he started the round with 14 clubs, the answer is no, he may not replace the club.

The only time a player may replace a club, provided he has started with 14, is when it has become unfit for play during the normal course of play (Rule 4-3a).

Decision 4-3/1 explains the meaning of “normal course of play”. The term includes all reasonable acts but specifically excludes cases of abuse.

Examples of acts which are in the “normal course of play” would include removing or replacing a club in the bag, using a club to search for a ball, leaning on a club when waiting to play, teeing a ball or removing one form the hole, or accidentally dropping a club.

Examples of acts not in the “normal course of play” would include throwing a club in anger or in retrieving a ball such as from a tree, “slamming” a club into a bag, or intentionally striking something (the ground or a tree) with the club other than during a stroke, practice swing or practice stroke.

But don’t worry, the story gets better.

On the next hole, he made a hole in one!

And to finish things off, the club was retrieved later and was returned to the player. Yes, he is allowed to put back into a play a club that has been lost or becomes irretrievable in the normal course of play (Decision 4-3/10).

Remember, use the definitions, 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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