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European Tour average golf club distances

Can I carry my average golf club distances with me during a round?

Can you keep a list of your average club distances on hand for every shot, or is this a prohibited use of equipment? Our Rules of Golf guru has all you need
 

Remember that video of Lee Westwood practising his hitting distances? There was a big 164 inked in marker pen on the back of his 8-iron before he then impressively struck it almost to the yard on the range.

It was footage like that which sent Peter and his pals into a confused quiver before he fired off this email…

“I use a shot tracker so have a good idea of my average distances. Being of a certain age I have written down those averages on a piece of paper, so when faced with a shot where I am unsure which club to use I can use my Motocaddy M5 GPS trolley for the distance and compare to my personal notes.

“We had a discussion the other day with members and course pros whether this constitutes an artificial aid.

“At the moment our leaning is towards “Yes” as Rule 4.3a states interpreting distance … information (such as using a device to get a recommended line of play or club selection based on the location of a player’s ball). 

“We know that GPS devices often have tournament modes to turn club advice off during competitions so presumably a piece of paper that effectively does the same thing would be similarly considered as not allowed.

“The confusion comes because we understand in recent articles on other sites that some golfers legitimately write their own distance in marker pen on the reverse of the clubs. Can you clarify?”

Yes, Peter, yes I can…

Rules of Golf explained: Average golf club distances and allowed uses of equipment

The Rules are fine with you carrying a piece of paper with your club distances on them.

I’ve seen people carrying intricately laminated strips of cards and golf club distances charts with a number for every clockface of their swing. All are OK.

As Westy did, you can write those numbers down on the back of the club and you still won’t be breaking any rules.

Where it can get problematic is if tape them onto the front. Have you inadvertently made the club non-conforming?

You can’t change the playing characteristics of a club, nor are you allowed a non-permissible external attachment (and a sticker on the clubface is expressly cited). Disqualification swiftly follows if it is not removed before the club is used to make a stroke.

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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