What is the ruling when you damage or break a club?
Situation – Justin Thomas hit a drive off-line at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and ended up close to a tree. His recovery shot with an iron resulted in him damaging his club against the tree.
Because this damage is considered to have taken place during the normal course of play, Thomas had 3 options available to him as per Rule 4-3a. These are:
(i) use the club in its damaged state for the remainder of the stipulated round; or
(ii) without unduly delaying play, repair it or have it repaired; or
(iii) as an additional option available only if the club is unfit for play, replace the damaged club with any club. The replacement of a club must not unduly delay play (Rule 6-7) and must not be made by borrowing any club selected for play by any other person playing on the course or by assembling components carried by or for the player during the stipulated round.
Note: A club is unfit for play if it is substantially damaged, e.g. the shaft is dented, significantly bent or breaks into pieces; the clubhead becomes loose, detached or significantly deformed; or the grip becomes loose. A club is not unfit for play solely because the club’s lie or loft has been altered, or the clubhead is scratched.
What if the damage was not caused during the normal course of play?
If, during a stipulated round, a player’s club is damaged other than in the normal course of play rendering it non-conforming or changing its playing characteristics, the club must not subsequently be used or replaced during the round. Penalty for breach - Disqualification.