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Updated: June 20, 2014 23:13 IST

Gadgets galore

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Ping’s latest i25 driver can launch the ball to infinity and beyond
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Ping’s latest i25 driver can launch the ball to infinity and beyond

To infinity and beyond

Gone are the days (I remember using them) when we had wooden heads and hickory shafts and clubs that could only do so much and no more. Today’s clubs are space age.

Ping’s latest i25 driver can launch the ball to infinity and beyond. (as Buzz says in Toy Story)

The R&A and the USGA have regulated the size and form of the clubs, especially drivers (max club head size is 460 CC) and the Overall Distance Standard of the balls. New Groove Rules for the irons kicked in recently (in India as well) and all of this is aimed at bringing the “skill” back into the game. Just standing on the tee box and bombing one down the fairway only to hit a wedge into the green may not be that easy any more.

Unusual equipment

What about use of artificial devices and other unusual equipment while playing the game? The modern day Rule 14-3 can trace its roots to 1968 when use of artificial devices which might assist the player were prohibited. Distance-measuring devices had already been barred by 1960. However the best news for the Range finder manufacturers came with the Decision 14-3/0.5 in 2006 which allows use of a distance-measuring device (including one attached to a golf cart) by establishing a specific Local Rule. Of course, one cannot use a device that gauges or measures other conditions that might affect a player's play (for example: wind or gradient). The ROGC is actively discussing making use of DMD’s a Rule, which, as a representative of the APGC, I am actively resisting.

Standard spectacles or field glasses that have no range finder feature can be used as you could hold a pencil or a scorecard at arm’s length and compare it with the height of the flagstick to gauge distance.

Use of a compass during the round is a no-no but you could carry a booklet or an electronic device providing distances between various points ( a yardage book) as long as there is no distance- measuring or calculating function in it.

Holding a golf ball in the hand against the grip whilst putting is prohibited as is leaning against a club held in one hand, to steady oneself, while putting with the other hand.

Don't plumb that line

The use of an adhesive tape for medical reasons such as to reduce blisters or skin splits are not contrary to the Rule. However if one were to bind two fingers together to obtain a better grip of the club, he is in breach of the Rule. A weighted training club can be carried and used in the round, provided it conforms with Rule 4-1. Many golfers use the putter as a plumb line to determine the slope. While this method is acceptable, using a plumb-line (a weight suspended on a string) is a breach of the Rule.

Ever seen players place a bottled drink on the green to gauge a slope on the green? If his intentions were such he would be in breach, not otherwise. Wearing gloves or hand warmers is acceptable but purposely warming a golf ball during the round is a breach. If you need to warm the balls, do it prior to the round.

We lived without the mobile!

Mobile phones on the golf course are indeed a real pain. A Local Rule can prevent the use of mobile phones on the course. In the absence of such a specific Rule, using a device to watch or listen or seek information of the competition being played is prohibited. Calling for or giving advice (Rule 8-1) is a strict no-no, as is calling for advice-related information that was not published prior to the start of the round.

So before you take a nice, spanking-new gadget from your bag and decide to use, just check because the odds are that you will be in breach of Rule 14-3.

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