Keep it on or take it off? Opinions differ but our Rules of Golf expert is on hand to help you solve this puzzle

I’ll give the internet one thing, it tells me pretty quickly what is on your mind. This is a question that’s come up on both on email and Facebook over the last week and, as you have asked, I shall endeavour to deliver.

The query is: ‘Can I measure out my relief area for a drop with a headcover on?’

Rules of Golf explained: Our expert says

When I first embarked on my journey of rules discovery, I was lucky enough to receive one excellent piece of advice. It was, if you’ll excuse the humble brag, from former European Tour referee John Paramor. He told me that to truly understand the Rules of Golf you’ve got to start with the definitions.

And he’s quite right. The foundation to all 24 rules lie in those definitions – and the answer to this question is lurking in there as well. You’ll find it by looking up Club Length.

You’ll know that when you’re measuring out the size of a relief area, carried out in club lengths, you use the longest club in the bag, other than a putter. That’s usually the driver.

An interpretation to the definition states that the length of the entire club – starting at the toe and ending at the butt of the grip – is used.

It says ‘if the club has a headcover on it or has an attachment to the end of the grip, neither is allowed to be used as part of the club when using it to measure’.

A USGA Rules FAQ says your headcover does not count towards the distance of measuring the relief area.

And that’s the key thing. Get the distance right, don’t pinch inches with polyester, and there’s no problem keeping your headcover on.

Have a question for our Rules of Golf expert?

Despite the simplification of the Rules of Golf at the beginning of 2019, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. And as I’ve passed the R&A’s level 2 rules exam with distinction, I am more than happy to help.

Click here for the full Rules of Golf explained archive and details of how to submit a question to our expert.

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