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What happens if you damage your club during a round?

When could you replace a club, and when was it forbidden? It used to be head-scratcher but everything is now simpler in the Rules of Golf, as our expert explains

 

Ever bent your club when trying to hit a hero shot from too close to a tree? Has your clubhead removed itself from the shaft after you’ve gone after one just a little too hard?

If you happen to have another club lying around, the Rules of Golf could give you a helping hand. Let’s see what they say…

Damaged golf club: What do the Rules of Golf say?

Except in cases of abuse, Rule 4.1a (2) says you can use, repair, or replace any club damaged during a round with another club. A Model Local Rule, G-9, can be employed by committees to limit when a damaged club can be replaced to cases where it is “broken or significantly damaged”. Importantly, that does not include a club that is cracked.

Caddy and golfer holding damaged gold club

When this was introduced in the 2023 Rules of Golf update, Grant Moir, R&A director of rules, said: “We were previously allowing repair, but not replacement. The fact is that when somebody damages their club, generally speaking they’ve done that by accident.

“They started with the clubs they wanted to play with. They haven’t damaged it to try and gain any kind of advantage and rather than agonising over whether it’s a situation where the club can be repaired but not replaced, we thought that – provided it wasn’t [done through] abuse – if that club has been damaged you have the opportunity to repair or replace it or to continue to use it.

“There may be situations where players are capable of repairing it and there isn’t a replacement available. But, if there are, the player has those options.

“It’s another simplification [of the rules] and is reflecting our desire to ensure there’s a sense of fairness around the rules that would apply in this situation.”

What do you think about the changes to the rules on damaged clubs? Will you now have a spare on hand to replace a golf club damaged during a round? Let me know with a comment on X.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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