Once again a professional golf player has broken the Rules of Golf!
This time it was LPGA veteran Lee-Anne Pace who in The 2018 KPMG Womens Championship (in the end of June 2018) made two strokes with a non-conforming wedge.
During the second round, Pace played hole 8, and after a bad stroke she got frustrated and slammed her sand wedge into a nearby stake. She did not at that point notice, that the wedge was damaged in the hosel.
Therefore she made a stroke with the wedge again at the same hole, and one more at hole 14 where she then noticed – due to the fact that the ball reacted oddly – that something was wrong with the wedge. Therefore she consulted a Rules official and she was given the option to continue play so that they could take a look at the wedge afterwards. Pace declined, due to the fact that she would most likely be disqualified, and stopped playing.
-> You can read the official statement from the Rules committee at this link.
2. The Rules of Golf.
The relevant Rule is Rule 4-3b, stating:
“If, during a stipulated round, a player’s club is damaged other than in the normal course of play rendering it non-conforming or changing its playing characteristics, the club must not subsequently be used or replaced during the round.”
Breach of this Rule is severely punished: Disqualification.
To slam your club into a stake in frustration is not considered “in the normal course of play” (see Decision 4-3/1), and therefore there was no way around a disqualification.
In Mickelson’s recent incident in U.S. Open it was discussed whether he should have been penalized harder (i.e. being disqualified instead of only incurring two penalty strokes). In this situation it could be discussed whether or not she should not have been disqualified due to the fact, that she did not know, that the wedge was damaged. If you have any thoughts about that, feel free to write them below.
3. Good etiquette?
By the way I will encourage you to read my recent blog about Sergio Garcia doing something similar in the recent RBC Canadian Open – hereunder my thoughts about the Etiquette section in the Rules of Golf.