A Guide to the Rules on Clubs and Balls

Introduction

The Rules of Golf (“the Rules”) specify the equipment which may be used to play the game.These specifications can be found in Rule 4 and Appendix II for golf clubs and Rule 5 and Appendix III for golf balls. In general, they are "descriptive" and "restrictive" in nature – defining what golf equipment should look like and limiting how it performs.

The main objective of Rules 4 and 5 and Appendices II and III is to ensure that technological advances in the design and manufacture of golf equipment are in the best interests of the game of golf. Whilst not wishing to stifle innovation, the purpose of the equipment Rules is to protect the traditions of the game, to prevent an overreliance on technological advances rather than on practice and skill and to preserve skill differentials throughout the game.

It is the role of The R&A’s Equipment Standards Committee to interpret and apply the Rules relevant to clubs and balls, and to determine and advise which conform to the Rules and which do not.The Committee is also responsible for recommending modifications to these Rules, if and when changes are believed to be necessary.

In order to achieve consistency in the decisionmaking process, a database of all previous decisions is kept and maintained.Also, over time, the Committee has developed a comprehensive set of "guidelines" based on these decisions to help interpret the equipment Rules in a consistent way.

It is the aim of this publication to pass on some of these guidelines to manufacturers,Tournament Officials and other interested parties in an effort to help them interpret and apply the Rules on golf clubs and balls.The purpose of Supplementary Paper A is to offer advice on the procedure an Official should follow when faced with an equipment ruling immediately before or during a competition.

Many of the Rules with regard to clubs and balls can be technical and complex in nature. However, almost without exception, the equipment Rules become understandable after only a brief explanation, or with the aid of a simple diagram. Whenever possible, this Guide will attempt to explain both the background to a Rule and the objective behind it. Also, where practical, the Guide will offer advice as to how best to carry out certain measurements.

The Guide should be read in conjunction with the 2012 edition of the Rules.

In the event of any doubt over the conformity of a club or ball, the Rules take precedence.