A Guide to the Rules on Clubs and Balls

Wear and Alteration (Rule 4-1b)

Over time, the face and grip of a club, in particular, will become worn through use.A grip may become so worn that it becomes moulded for the hands, or the grooves on an iron club may become so worn that they no longer conform to the requirements in Appendix II, 5c. Also, as already mentioned above, many golfers like to make postproduction modifications to their clubs. Rule 4-1b provides that:

 A club that conforms with the Rules when new is deemed to conform after wear through normal use. Any part of a club that has been purposely altered is regarded as new and must, in its altered state, conform with the Rules.

Whilst the clause regarding "alteration" is self-explanatory, the situation regarding "wear" benefits from some additional information. In essence, the Rule states that a club which conformed when new cannot be rendered nonconforming due to its wear through normal use. However, a club which did not conform to the Rules when new cannot be worn, through normal use, into a conforming state. Such a club would always be considered nonconforming. In general,"wear" is defined to be the erosion of material (as opposed to "damage", which is usually caused by a single occurrence or act). Material decomposition or deterioration is not generally considered to be wear.