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The use of artificial devices

HAL LENOBEL
Contributing Columnist
golf@lbknews.com

Professional baseball prohibits the use of “corked” and aluminum bats. The National Football League does not permit the use of kicking tees for extra points or field goals, while it does allow their use on kick-offs.

What do the Rules of golf approve of in the matter of the use of artificial devices? I’ll try to respond to that question in this article.

Rule 14-3 states that a player may not use any artificial device or “unusual” equipment—except for those things provided under the rules—that one, might assist him in making a stroke or in his play; two might be used to gauge distance or conditions that might affect his play or three, that assist him in gripping the club (with certain common exceptions, such as wearing a plain glove or applying tape or gauze to the grips). The penalty for breach of this Rule is disqualification.

The USGA has found it expedient to rule on countless artificial devices and unusual equipment through the use of The Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2010-2011 edition. The Decisions book lists 17 such rulings. Here are a few of the more interesting:

1. A meter attached to a golf cart for the purpose of measuring shot distance is not allowed, advertisements and claims notwithstanding. Some local courses offer this service, made possible by global positioning tech nology. Despite this, scores recorded  while using this “advantage” are acceptable for handicap purposes, however it may not be used in tournament play. Binoculars are fine, unless they are combined with a range-finding device.

2. A compass may be used to find your way out of deep woods, but don’t try to use it to determine wind direction or the grain of the green. Speaking of woods, if you were sold on an “impossible-to-lose ball,” which gives off a transmitting signal, be careful. The ball itself is not a violation, but it is a violation if used in conjunction with a receiver.

3. Injured players are permitted to wear elastic bandages or adhesive tape for medical reasons. Nevertheless, the use of these items solely to aid in the gripping of a club is a violation.

4. You may not make a stroke, or even a practice swing, using a club with a weighted headcover or a “doughnut,” or use any other non-conforming device designed as training aid, during a round.

5. Use of a carpenter’s plumb line to determine the line of a putt is cause for disqualification. Use of a club for plumb-lining a putt is acceptable.

6. Use of a hand-warmer in cold weather to warm your hands is allowed; however using it to heat golf balls is a no-no.

7. The final indiscretion is the use of an audio or videotape during a round to help you play better (more likely to confuse you) is not permissible. You can take all your lessons before or after the round.

Here are few definitions to offset the restrictions listed above:

• Maxfli: What Max better zip up before teeing off

• Oversized heads: Funniest looking golfers on the course

• Foot joy: Making a 12-inch putt for a birdie

• Headcovers: Balding golfers’ most important piece

of equipment

• Pings: Noise that is made after your ball ricochets

off a parked car

•••

Only a true golfer will understand these:

• Don’t buy a putter until you’ve had a chance to throw it.

• Never try to keep more than 300 separate thoughts in your mind during your swing.

• When your shot has to carry over a water hazard, you can either hit one more club or two more balls.

• If you’re afraid a full shot might reach the green while the foursome ahead of you is still putting out, you have two options: you can immediately shank a layup or you can wait until the green is clear and top a ball halfway there.

• The less skilled the player, the more likely he is to share his ideas about the golf swing.

• No matter how bad you are playing, it is always possible to play worse.

• The inevitable result of any golf lesson is the instant elimination of the one critical unconscious motion that allowed you to compensate for all of your many other errors.

• Everyone replaces his divot after a perfect approach shot.

• A golf match is a test of your skill against your opponents’ luck.

• It is surprisingly easy to hole a 50-foot putt. For a 10.

• Counting on your opponent to inform you when he breaks a rule is like expecting him to make fun of his own haircut.


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