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Friday, September 12, 2014

Rule 4-3b: Damaged Clubs: Repair and Replacement or GolfRage

So Yeon Ryu
So Yeon Ryu is the 5th ranked player in the world of women's golf.  Ryu's no rookie and at 24 she's not a hot-headed teenager.  She's been playing pro golf since 2008.  She's a six-time winner on the Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association she's held an LPGA Tour card since 2012.  She's the 2012 US Women's Open Champion and LPGA Rookie of the Year.  

Ryu's recorded 38 top-10 finishes on the LPGA, three of them victories.  She's recorded 282 sub-par holes and fired 280 birdies this year -- 3rd best among Tour players for both categories.  She's an experienced pro and she's better-than-average, much better, on the putting surface.


Today during the 2nd round of the Evian Championship So Yeon Ryu missed a putt.  Nothing unusual about that.  A lot of players missed putts today on the Evian Masters Golf Club Alpine track.  The pin placements made an already challenging golf course even more difficult.  Scores were running high.  The cut line ended up at +5.

Then Ryu's putter came into contact with her foot.  The shaft was bent. Ouch!   Ryu tapped in with her damaged putter, and she was disqualified for violation of Rule 4-3b, using a club that was damaged other than in the normal course of play.

I decided I needed to take a look at the decisions on this one.  What constitutes "normal course of play"?  The Rules of Golf do take some latitude on this point, stipulating that in addition making a stroke or practice swing, normal course of play also includes:

  • removing or replacing a club in the bag
  • using a club to search for or retrieve a ball (except by throwing the club);
  • leaning on a club while waiting to play, tees a ball, or removing a ball from the hole;
  • accidentally dropping a club.
Normal course of play does not include throwing a club in anger,"slamming" club into a bag, or intentionally striking something (e.g., the ground or a tree) with the club other than during a stroke, practice swing, or practice stroke.

My grandmother didn't play golf but she had a firm grasp on the principle driving Rule 4-3.  An inveterate card player (primarily Canasta and Bridge), she had a firm rule that she enforced without mercy at the gaming table.  If I threw my cards, I was dismissed for 24 hours.  I loved playing cards with my grandmother and learned quickly to exert control over my frustration and not to throw my cards. 

Just to keep this situation very clear, a club damaged during normal course of play can be repaired or replaced (so long as this doesn't involve an undue delay in the game) but one damaged in anger cannot.  So even if So Yeon Ryu had elected to not tap in with her putter -- I might have used my 3 hybrid under such a circumstance), she would have had to complete the round without a putter.

How's your working knowledge of the Rules of Golf?  Follow this link to take the USGA Rules Quiz.