There is plenty of technology out there to track your health, but will it cost you on the golf course? Our rules expert has the answer

How many of you got a Fitbit for Christmas? (Other fitness trackers are available, of course.) Did you pop a bit too much Christmas pud in the tummy over the festive period? Is that New Year’s Resolution to lose weight still going strong?

If you’ve got hold of a touch of wearable tech in the last couple of weeks you’ll have noticed it can impart all kinds of interesting information: calorie counts, steps taken, heart rate, even the amount of oxygen you’re taking in.

All very worthwhile, of course, as we try and lead healthier lives. But if you’re planning on using some of these to give you a hand at the course, then there are some things you’re going to need to know…

Rules of Golf explained: Our expert says…

Rule 4.3 covers use of equipment and if you’ve been taking a little peek at your heart rate after you’ve had a particularly nervy shot then you might be surprised to learn the following.

While you can record, for use after the round, playing or physiological information from that round – and heart rate is something that’s specifically mentioned – using “any physiological information recorded during the round” is not allowed.

On a wider issue, Rule 4.3b covers equipment used for medical reasons. If you were using equipment to help with a medical condition, you had a medical reason to use it, and the “committee decides that its use does not give the player any unfair advantage over other players”, then you wouldn’t be in breach.

Now you might be wondering what all the fuss is about, but the penalties for breaching this rule get serious pretty quickly.

A first offence of Rule 4.3 comes with a two-shot penalty. A second, for a breach that’s unrelated to the first, means disqualification.

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.

If you’ve sent me an email and are yet to hear back from me, I will try to answer your query. I’m still inundated with requests and trying to get through them.

Just to reiterate, I continue to receive emails from players hoping I can intervene in a club rules dispute. For fairly obvious reasons, I can’t do that and would direct those players either to their county or to the rules department at the R&A for a definitive judgement.

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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