Last week I explained that the rules of golf don’t permit the replacement of a damaged club during a round, but it is possible for a Committee to put into effect a local rule.
1. If we start the round with less than 14 clubs, we may add any club during the round.
2. If we start the round with 14 clubs, we can’t replace a damaged club, unless the damage was caused by an outside influence or a natural force.
3. We are not allowed to replace a lost or forgotten club
4. If we see that we have more than 14 clubs in our bag before the start of the round, it is possible to identify the extra club and put it on the floor of the cart or carry it when it is well identified has the extra club.
The Local Rule
For whatever reason, a broken or seriously damaged club may be replaced during the round.
The word seriously is very important in the local rule. Look at the following decision on a PGA Tour event in August 2019.
Webb Simpson looked at the face of his driver and found out that the face had a crack. He asked a referee the permission to replace his driver. The referee refused the replacement because in the local rule it is specified that a crack on the face of a club is not a serious damage. He continued the round playing with his 3-wood instead of his drover. Many players did not agree with that decision.
This optional local rule was not permitted on January 1st, 2019 when the new Rules came into effect. It took a lot of pressure from PGA Tour players in order to have the USGA and R&A reverse the decision and permit a Committee to put into effect a local rule for the replacement of a damaged club.
I wish the regulators change some rules the next time they do a review. It is difficult for players to understand the Rules when you have exceptions and local rules to change the Rules.
It makes my job as a teacher more difficult and the referees must really know all the subtilties of the rules.