Purpose: Rule 4 covers the equipment that you may use during your round. Based on the principle that golf is a challenging game in which success should depend on your judgment, skills and abilities, you:
Must use conforming clubs and balls,
Are limited to no more than 14 clubs and normally must not replace damaged or lost clubs, and
Are restricted in the use of other equipment that gives artificial help to your play.
The Player’s Equipment
Clubs Allowed in Making a Stroke
You must use a club that conforms to the requirements in the Equipment Rules.If your conforming club is damaged during your round or while play is stopped, you may continue to make strokes with the damaged club for the rest of the round, or have your club repaired by restoring it as nearly as possible to its condition before the damage happened.See Full RulesFor more information on restrictions in repairing damage and deliberate changing of a club's performance characteristics.Penalty for MakingStroke in Breach of Rule 4.1a: Disqualification.
Limit of 14 Clubs; Sharing, Adding or Replacing Clubs During Round
You must not start a round with more than 14 clubs or have more than 14 clubs during the round.If you start a round with fewer than 14 clubs, you may add clubs during the round up to the 14-club limit.When you become aware that you are in breach of this Rule by having more than 14 clubs, you must immediately take the excess club or clubs out of play, using the procedure in Rule 4.1c.See Full RulesFor more information on sharing, adding or replacing clubs, including the limited Exception when you did not cause the damage.Penalty for Breach of Rule 4.1b: The penalty applies based on when you become aware of the breach:
While playing the hole: The penalty is applied at the end of the hole you are playing. In match play, you must complete the hole, apply the result of that hole to the match score and then apply the penalty to adjust the match score.
Between two holes: The penalty is applied as of the end of the hole just completed, not the next hole.
Penalty in Match Play - Match Score Revised by Deducting Hole, Maximum of Two Holes:
This is a match adjustment penalty – it is not the same as a loss of hole penalty.
At the end of the hole you are playing or just completed, the match score is revised by deducting one hole for each hole where a breach happened, with a maximum deduction of two holes in the round.
For example, if you started with 15 clubs and become aware of the breach while playing the 3rd hole and then win that hole to go three up in the match, the maximum adjustment of two holes applies and you would now be one up in the match.
Penalty in Stroke Play - Two Penalty Strokes, Maximum of Four Strokes: You get the general penalty(two penalty strokes) for each hole where a breach happened, with a maximum of four penalty strokes in the round (adding two penalty strokes at each of the first two holes where a breach happened).
Procedure for Taking Clubs Out of Play
When you become aware during a round that you have more than 14 clubs or made a stroke with another player's club, you must immediately take an action that clearly indicates each club that you are taking out of play (such as by advising another player or turning the club upside down in your bag).Penalty for Not Taking Immediate Action to Indicate Each Club that You are Taking Out of Play: Disqualification.See Full RulesFor information on taking a club out of play shortly before you start your round.
Balls Allowed in Play of Round
You must use a ball that conforms to the requirements in the Equipment Rules. You may get a conforming ball to play from anyone else, including another player on the course.You must not make a stroke at a ball whose performance characteristics have been deliberately altered.Penalty for MakingStrokein Breach of Rule 4.2a: Disqualification.
Ball Breaks into Pieces While Playing Hole
See Full RulesFor information on what to do when a ball breaks into pieces while you are playing a hole.
Ball Becomes Cut or Cracked While Playing Hole
If you reasonably believe that your ball has been cut or cracked while playing a hole, you may lift it to check. First, you must mark the spot of the ball and then lift it without cleaning it (except on the putting green).If you lift your ball without having this reasonable belief, fail to mark the spot of the ball before lifting it, or clean it when not allowed, you get one penalty stroke.You may only substitute another ball (by replacing it on the original spot) if it can be clearly seen that your original ball is cut or cracked and this damage happened during the hole you are playing – but not if it is only scratched or scraped or its paint is only damaged or discoloured.Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 4.2c: General Penalty.
Use of Equipment
Rule 4.3 applies to all types of equipment that you might use during your round.This Rule only concerns how you use equipment. It does not limit the equipment that you may have with you during a round.
Allowed and Prohibited Uses of Equipment
You may use equipment to help your play during a round, except that you must not create a potential advantage by:
Using equipment (other than a club or a ball) that artificially eliminates or reduces the need for a skill or judgment that is essential to the challenge of the game, or
Using equipment (including a club or a ball) in an abnormal way in making your stroke. "Abnormal way" means a way that is fundamentally different than its intended use and is not normally recognized as part of playing the game.
See Full RulesFor common examples of uses of equipment that are allowed and not allowed during your round, such as the use of equipment to measure distance or wind conditions, the use of a device to provide club recommendations or the use of a training aid.
Equipment Used for Medical Reasons
See Full RulesFor information on requesting the use of equipment for medical reasons and the factors the Committee should consider.Penalty for Breach of Rule 4.3:
Penalty for first breach: General Penalty.
Penalty for second breach: Disqualification. There are limited situations where a second breach is considered a related act to the first breach and therefore only the general penalty applies.