Rule of the Month: Fair or Not? | Oregon Golf Association

Rule of the Month: Fair or Not?

By Sr. Rules Officials: Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly
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Rule 4 The Player’s Equipment: Other Equipment Used During the Round

Rule 4 covers all the player’s equipment including clubs, balls and any other equipment the player may use or carry during the round. Last month’s focus was on the player’s clubs and balls and may be accessed by clicking here.

While a player may use other equipment during the round, it is imperative that the use of equipment doesn’t create a potential advantage by eliminating or reducing the need for a skill or judgement that is essential to the challenge of the game. Additionally, the Rules prohibit using equipment, including a club or ball, in a way that is fundamentally different from its intended use and is not normally recognized as part of playing the game.

Test your knowledge of the equipment you may use and how it may be used with the following questions.

Questions: True / False

  1. A distance measuring device may only be used if the Committee has established a Local Rule permitting their use.
  2. A player is not allowed to use a device to measure elevation change (slope).
  3. A club or another object, such as a rod or a weight on a string, may be used as a plumb line to judge the contour of the putting green.
  4. Grass may be tossed into the wind to judge the speed and direction. A powder carried by the player may be used for the same purpose.
  5. There is no penalty if a player measures the temperature or humidity at a particular hole during a round.
  6. A player must not take a stance for the stroke using a club that he or she placed on the ground to help with lining up his or her feet.
  7. During a round, practice swings may be made before a stroke using a weighted “donut” on the club.
  8. An alignment rod must not be carried during a round.
  9. A player must not listen to music to eliminate distraction.
  10. A player must not video record his or her swing during a round.


  1. False. Rule 4.3(1). The use of distance measuring devices has become so commonplace that they may be used for any round of golf unless the Committee has enacted a Local Rule prohibiting their use.
  2. True. Rule 4.3a(1). A player is not allowed to measure or gauge elevation change or the slope of a green with any device. Both are judgements that must be made by the player and caddie. On a side note, a distance measuring device that also measures elevation change or gives other information such as club selection, may still be used to measure distance but the other features must not be used. Doing so will result in the player getting the general penalty for the first breach and disqualified for the second.
  3. False. Rule 4.3a(1) and Interpretation 4.3a(1)/1. Using a club as a plumb line is an accepted use of a club and many players will judge the contour of the green by using a club in this way. However, using any other object, such as an alignment rod or string would be considered a breach of the Rules.
  4. False, Rule 4.3a(2). Using any artificial object (powder) for the sole purpose of determine wind speed or direction is not allowed. Additionally, a player may not hold a handkerchief or ribbon in the wind for the sole purpose of gaining information about the wind.
  5. True. Rule 4.3a(1) & (2). A thermometer, humidity gauge and even a compass are permitted devices that a player may use simply because they don’t reduce the challenge of playing a stroke or a required golf skill.
  6. True. Rule 10.2b(3). The player is not allowed to use any object for this purpose. A club may be placed on the ground where the player intends to take a stance to indicate a line of play but must be removed before the player takes the stance for the stroke.
  7. False. Rule 4.3a(6). As a practice swing with a weighted club creates a potential advantage by helping the player prepare for a stroke, it is not allowed. And since your caddie already has enough equipment to carry, he or she won’t mind leaving the “donut” in the trunk.
  8. False. Rule 4.3a(6). A player may carry any equipment they like and the Rules only address the use of equipment during the round. For example, an alignment rod may be carried and even used for general stretching, similar to a club placed across the shoulder. But a rod must not be used during a stroke or practice swing as it could help the player in making a stroke or preparing to make a stroke. As mentioned in answer #7, the safest place for an alignment rod during a round is in the trunk.
  9. True. Rule 4.3a(4). Music may be listened to while playing golf, but not for the purpose of eliminating distractions or helping with swing tempo. Before listening to music during a round, the player should insure that doing so doesn’t breach the code of conduct established by the Committee and as always, consideration should be shown to every player within earshot of the music.
  10. False. Rule 4.3a(4). A player may video record but must not view the video during the round as doing so would help the player in choosing a club, making a future stroke or in deciding how to play during the round.

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