Golf Rules Clarifications

By Lance Fredericks, Jamberoo GC Club Captain

Rules Re Club Face Grooves

As most readers would be aware, the R&A and USGA have introduced new rules relating to club face grooves. The new rules (applying from 1 January 2010) limit groove volume and edge sharpness. They apply to most professional tours including the PGA Tour and only applies to amateurs playing in such events.

Golf Australia has adopted the R&A’s recommendation on the timeline for the phased introduction of the new regulations for amateur events as follows:

  • 1 January 2014 – To apply to all GA Elite Amateur Competitions
  • 1 January 2024 at the earliest – To apply to all players in all forms of play.

Club models in production at 1 January 2010 may still be manufactured during 2010 but after that date new clubs must comply with the new rules. If you have clubs which are affected by the new rules then you have fourteen years to wear them out.

Measuring Distance with a Mobile Phone.

In 2006 the R&A has allowed, by way of a local rule, the use of distance-measuring devices with the following proviso: ‘the device must measure distance only; it must not measure other conditions such as wind speed or direction, the slope of the ground or the temperature’.

With the emergence of multifunctional devices such as mobile phones and PDA’s etc. (ie: primarily communications devices, but which may have other potential uses), the R&A and USGA issued a joint statement of principles regarding the use of electronic devices including distance-measuring devices.

The full text of the joint statement can be accessed on the R&A website under the Rules tab.

The statement clarifies the position regarding the use of multifunction devices including mobile phones etc. as follows:

  • The device may be used for any non-golfing purpose (e.g. as a communications tool to phone, text or email) subject to any club/course regulations and the rules on advice-related matters
  • When the local rule is in effect, a distance-measuring application (app) may be used, provided the specific application is restricted to “distance only” and the device does not have any other “non-conforming” features. This is the case even if these other features are not being used. As above, the rules on advice-related communications (including the use of the internet) still apply.

The fact that the phone could be used to access non-conforming information via the internet does not automatically result in a breach. Only if the internet was used for this purpose would a breach occur.

If any non-conforming feature was available on the device without the need to access the internet, the device cannot be used as a DMD. If the non-conforming information can only be accessed by downloading from the internet, the device can be used as a DMD.


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