The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.
During a lesson, the instructor said I should add a piece of tape to my irons with the average distance I hit that particular club. I now also use tape below the grip of my putter to align my hands. Are either of these tape jobs legal? —John Fogarty, Troy, NY
Rules Guy was all set to make a witty Credence Clearwater Revival reference when he noticed that you are Fogarty with an “a” and not an “e” — we are unfortunate, son! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
You have to scotch the tape, otherwise you are masking the Rules, which say that such external attachments are verboten. Make a stroke with any of these altered clubs and you are immediately disqualified under Rule 4.1a.
Consider instead for reference a piece of paper in your pocket with your club distances, which would be entirely legal and, you know, just learning how to put your hands on the club properly … you got this!
For more external-attachment guidance from our guru, read on …
I have an old TaylorMade Spider putter but didn’t like the white line on the black clubhead, so I stuck a piece of white tape on the head and drew a red line with a Sharpie. Is this legal?
—Vince Zachetti, via email
A confession, Vince: Over the past half-century, Rules Guy’s father, Tinker Guy, has butchered untold number of putters in his basement workshop, a.k.a. “The Lair,” including sawing off the toe of a Scotty Cameron. Blowtorches to the hosel, Wite-Out dabbed on the topline, chair glides stuck to the sole, ball bearings shoved down the grip and into the shaft: We have seen flatsticks suffer all manner of dubious plastic surgery through the years.
Never once did Tinker Guy ask if he was violating the Rules, and in filial deference, nor was this information imposed upon him. Now it can be told: Tape affixed to the putter is a nonconforming external attachment and renders the club nonconforming. Under Rule 4.1a, once you make a stroke with said club, you are disqualified.
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Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. We promise he won’t throw the book at you.