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18 most misunderstood golf rules—Part 3

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  1. Changing club characteristics

Clubs may not be altered in any way once play has begun. If a club is altered during the normal course of play, such as bending it after hitting a tree while attempting to hit the ball, the club may be taken to the shop for immediate repair and a replacement club may be used until the original club is repaired.

If the club is modified outside the normal course of play, such as breaking or bending it in a fit of anger, it must be taken out of play for the remainder of the match. Should it be used again the penalty is disqualification, whether match or stroke play.

  1. How to drop the ball

After determining the nearest point of relief, you may stand outside the drop area, no closer to the hole, and extend your hand to the side dropping the ball from shoulder height. The ball may roll up to two-club lengths no closer to the hole. If the ball rolls farther than that you must re-drop. If after dropping two times the ball continues to roll past two club lengths, you must place the ball where it first touched the ground.

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  1. Repairing the line of your putt

You may repair any ball marks in your line and remove any pebbles or foreign objects in your line, provided you do it with your hand or club. You may not fix spike marks or fan the ground with a towel or cap to remove sand or foreign objects. The penalty for doing so is loss of hole in match play or a two-shot penalty in stroke play.

  1. Hitting the wrong ball

The penalty for hitting the wrong ball in match play is loss of hole. If both players hit the wrong ball, only the first player to do so would be penalised as that would be the end of the hole. The penalty for hitting the wrong ball in stroke play for either player is two strokes and the original ball must be replayed from its original position.

The author is a R&A certified tournament administrator and referee. He is a founding member of the Professional Golfers Association in Malawi, a teaching professional and a member of the Professional Golf Association of South Africa. For feedback, E-mail: dingaank@gmail. com or call 0888 346 510.

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