Hideki Matusyama's was booted out of the Memorial for using a non-conforming club. Here's how to make sure you don't fall foul of the Equipment Rules

Hideki Matsuyama was disqualified from the first round of the 2022 Memorial tournament for using a non-conforming club. The gear in question was his TaylorMade SIM2 TiΒ 3-wood which had been altered on the tour truck by a member of his team. Β 

Hideki Matsuyama disqualification

As you can see in the photo, Matsuyama had white paint on the face of the club. Now, this is allowed in terms of an alignment aid, but the problem is that the paint could affect the performance of any balls hit, in terms of flight and spin.

The paint used was a thick substance that was creating a coating on the club face, as well as filling the grooves.Β If the paint had simply filled the grooves, the club would have been conforming.

As a result, Matsuyama’s club broke Rule 4, which states you cannot change the club’s performance characteristics.

Rule 4.1(a) covers the equipment players may use during a round of golf. It is designed to ensure that β€œsuccess should depend on the player’s judgment, skills and abilities”.

Matsuyama was initially made aware of a possible rule breach on the second hole at Muirfield Village, then again on the fifth. But he wasn’t officially disqualified until the 10th as tour officials needed to check the ruling with USGA officials.

And here’s PGA Tour rules official Steve Rintoul to explain…

The Rules of Golf say the β€œpenalty for makingΒ strokeΒ in breach of Rule 4.1a: Disqualification”.

But it adds β€œthere is no penalty under this Rule for merely having (but not making aΒ strokeΒ with) a non-conforming club or a club whose performance characteristics were deliberately changed during theΒ round … butΒ such a club still counts towards the 14-club limit inΒ Rule 4.1b(1)”.

So you can carry a non-conforming club in your bag, you just can’t use it. As Matsuyama had hit the non-conforming club off the first tee, by the time the rules officials reached him the situation couldn’t be avoided. Β 

And even though Matsuyama did not apply the paint to the club himself, it is the player’s own responsibility to ensure that his or her clubs conform to the Equipment Rules.

This was the first DQ of his PGA Tour career.

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