Training aids are great ways to hone your technique and practice your game, but when competing on the highest level, there are rules that forbid you from gaining an advantage over the rest of the field by using an outside agent.
2011 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am winner D.A. Points learned his lesson about using a practice aid during a tournament round the hard way in 2014 on the Monterey Peninsula. During the second round of the tournament, an event that is notorious for its long rounds, Points pulled out a small, spongy ball that his instructor had given to him a few weeks prior to work on his arm position in the swing.
By using the ball as a training aid, Points was in breach of Rule 14-3, Artificial Devices and Unusual Equipment; Abnormal Use of Equipment.
The rule reads:
Rule 14-3 governs the use of equipment and devices (including electronic devices) that might assist a player in making a specific stroke or generally in his play.
Except as provided in the Rules, during a stipulated round the player must not use any artificial device or unusual equipment, or use any equipment in an abnormal manner:
a. That might assist him in making a stroke or in his play; or
b. For the purpose of gauging or measuring distance or conditions that might affect his play; or
c. That might assist him in gripping the club, except that:
(i) gloves may be worn provided that they are plain gloves;
(ii) resin, powder and drying or moisturizing agents may be used; and
(iii) a towel or handkerchief may be wrapped around the grip.
In Points’ case, he was unaware of the rule breach, signed his scorecard and was subsequently disqualified. He rehashed his conversation with Mark Russell, the vice president of rules and competitions for the PGA Tour, to GolfChannel.com in the immediate aftermath.
“We were standing on the tee; it’s cold, it’s raining,” Points explained to GolfChannel.com via phone. “I pull out the ball and make some dry practice swings, just trying to loosen up. I come to find out it’s an unusual training device, something you wouldn’t have in your bag.”
Had he instead used a headcover, towel or glove, Points wouldn’t have been in violation of the rule. Instead, it’s the fact that the spongy green ball doesn’t always reside in his golf bag that led to the violation.
“It’s my fault for not knowing the rule and I own up to that,” he said. “But I don’t want people thinking I was using some sort of contraption or device. It’s just a green spongy ball. That’s it. It’s not something they sell online or anything.”
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