Ask Golf Digest: Would You Be Penalized For Carrying A Lost Club?

October 01, 2018

Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

Q: I like to share high-quality cigars with my usual playing partners. One of my friends has twice chosen to stash the cigar in his bag and smoke it at a different time and place. Am I wrong in letting this bother me? – Mark Bailey, Fairfield, Calif.

A: Wrong? Hell no. We'd be smoking hot, too. The whole point is to enjoy a fine cigar together as you play. Can you imagine bringing a cheesecake from Junior's in Brooklyn to a dinner party, but the host stashes it in the freezer and serves you Ring Dings instead? It's one thing if your friend is not a cigar smoker and feels he has to accept the gift to be polite. But if that's not the case, we suggest you hand out your next batch of cigars and then stare down the offending party as you utter this phrase: "Smoke 'em if you got 'em."

Q: In a recent tournament, a player in another group left his wedge on the green. I picked it up and placed it in my bag. A competitor said I violated the 14-club rule, penalized me, and I missed qualifying for our state amateur by one shot. Was I in violation? – Ray Ribitch, Mount Pleasant, Mich.

A: Sometimes we think we've heard it all, and then we hear a story like yours. That's just... not right! Rule 4-4 says a player may use at most 14 clubs, but there is a separate decision covering what happened to you. See Decision 4-4a/8: A lost club picked up and not used during the round is not a rules violation. When in doubt, always ask the tournament committee for a ruling.

Q: Is there a specific size a ball marker should be? Mine is almost twice the size of a quarter but half as thick. – Ryan Crane, Great Falls, Mont.

A: Rule 20-1 says you should mark your ball using a small coin or something similar, the operative word being "should." You don't have to use a coin, hence the proliferation of poker chips for sale as ball markers in many golf shops. So why don't we see poker chips used on the PGA and LPGA tours? Because pros find the size and flashy designs annoying. Somewhere between the uber-nerdy (that would be the plastic disk with useless prong in the middle) and the gauche (the poker chip) resides the elegant and utilitarian coin, preferably smaller than a quarter. It remains the popular choice of legendary golfers everywhere.

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