Oops! Too Many Clubs
What happens when you pull up to your starting tee in a shotgun start and find that you forgot to leave that extra wedge in the trunk of the car? You realize that you have 15 clubs with you, but know that you can only start the round with 14 clubs.
Well, if this happens in the remainder of this year, you need to physically take the extra club out of your bag and put it somewhere that is not in your cart or possession; possibly leaning against a tree or bench. Then you can go ahead and start your round. Only after you have started, may you then retrieve the extra club and place it back in the bag or cart to carry with you for the remainder of the round; as long as you do not use it during that round.
Thankfully, the Rules makers have come to their senses (partway anyhow, more on that later) and as of January 1, 2016 you will no longer need to physically remove it from your bag (revised Decision 4-4c/1). You will only need to declare the one extra club out of play to your opponent, marker or fellow-competitor and you will be good to go.
The USGA recommends that you “highlight the club that is out of play by setting it apart from other clubs, such as placing it on the floor of his golf cart or turning it upside down in his golf bag”.
This is a common sense change to a Decision that has been a long time coming.
Now, here comes the part where they have not completely come to their senses.
This Decision revision is only applicable in the case of when a player has one extra club with them (15 clubs). If you have 16 or more, this revision has no effect and you will still need to remove two from your bag and place them elsewhere. Likewise, if your spouse’s clubs are stored on your private cart and you show up at the tee, you still need to physically remove your spouse’s clubs from the cart or you are considered to have started the round with too many clubs and a penalty would be applied.
Hopefully, Santa can bring another revision to this Decision in two more years.
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.