March 16, 2009

If It Ain't Broke

It is critical to know when a club is--or is not--damaged during the course of play

At the WGC-CA Phil Mickelson used the large-headed 3-wood often on shots from the tee and the fairway.

At the WGC-CA Phil Mickelson used the large-headed 3-wood often on shots from the tee and the fairway.

In the May 2005 Golf Digest, Adam Scott said, "I won't change a club unless it's broken."

During the first round of the WGC-CA Championship, Scott thought his Titleist 909D2 driver was broken and wanted to change the club--but was told he couldn't.

Scott had his driver re-fitted with a new UST Mamiya Attas shaft and was playing the club for the first time. On the eighth hole he heard a rattle in the driver caused by some loose epoxy and called for an official.

Rule 4-3 says, in essence, if a club is damaged during the normal course of play, a player may use it in its damaged state, have it repaired or replace the club with any club, provided it does not come from any other person playing the course and does not unduly delay play. Scott wanted to replace the club but was told it did not fit the definition of "unfit for play." The Aussie, however, was not comfortable hitting the club, so he did not hit it the rest of the round even though he said he could have used driver on seven of the remaining 10 holes.

Although the ruling did not go his way, Scott did the right thing by calling for an official because the line between when a club has or hasn't been altered is not always clear. Last November, Anthony Kim was disqualified from the European Tour's HSBC Champions event when he casually tapped his driver on a sprinkler head during the third round and unknowingly altered the club. After hitting two more tee shots with the driver, Kim called for an official and told him he thought he had damaged the club. To his surprise Kim was DQ'd for using a club "damaged other than in the normal course of play."

"I was pretty shocked," said Kim. "But the rules are the rules."

Scott wasn't the only player with driver issues at Doral. In the final round Boo Weekley hit a couple of "high, weird drives," and found the face of his Cleveland HiBore driver had a half-inch long horizontal crack. After confirming with a rules official, Weekley used the club for the rest of his round, but said, "We didn't know what it would do, so we just had to guess."

Weekley headed to Tampa searching for a new driver, but Scott already had that taken care of. A Titleist rep built two new drivers for him while he was still on the course and drove from Tampa to Miami to deliver them in time for Friday's second round.

Spotted

Joey Sindelar has his bases covered for March Madness. Sindelar's C-Thru putter grip boasts Syracuse (near his home in upstate New York) on the front portion of the grip and his alma mater, Ohio State, on the back.

Bag Room

Seeking a return to glory: Major champions Retief Goosen and Ernie Els used putters at the WGC-CA Championship designed to bring back good memories. Goosen returned to the Yes! Golf Tracy model he used to win both his U.S. Opens, while Els had Odyssey make him a non-insert putter similar to the Ping Anser 2 he used to win in 1994 at Oakmont and 1997 at Congressional. ... WGC-CA champ Phil Mickelson returned to a Callaway FT-9 driver (7.5 degrees) with a specially designed hosel. Mickelson was ninth for the week in driving distance at 303.6 yards per poke.