QI don't understand why Juli Inkster was disqualified from this past week's LPGA tournament for using a swing weight to stretch during the round. Could you please explain? I see people using these things all the time. - Lauren, Myrtle Beach
AAugust sure is turning into a month of unfortunate penalties, isn't it?
During last weeks' LPGA event, Juli ran into a bit of a traffic jam at the 10th tee when making the turn. Apparently, she had to wait approximately 30 minutes to hit her tee shot. Before playing, she attached a weight to one of her club's shafts and took a few practice swings to loosen back up. After she finished her round, officials informed her of the breach and that she was disqualified.
Rule 14-3 Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment, and Unusual Use of Equipment says, "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 unusual 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) plain gloves may be worn; (ii) resin, powder and drying or moisturizing agents may be used; and (iii) a towel or handkerchief may be wrapped around the grip."
Thankfully, there's a note in the Rule that gives authority to the Committee to make a Local Rule allowing players to use devices that measure or gauge distance only. Before you play in your next club event, make sure to ask your PGA Professional if such a Local Rule is in effect.
Anyway, back to Juli's disqualification. It's fine if people use weighted donuts or straps on their clubs to stretch before their rounds. However, they just can't use such items during their round to make practice swings.
It isn't that the USGA doesn't want players to stretch their muscles. In fact, Decision 14-3/10.5 tells us it's permissible to use a device designed for stretching as long as the device isn't designed specifically to be used in a golf swing and is used in that method. The following stretching devices may be used:
Items designed specifically for golf but not used in a golf swing (e.g. a bar to place across the shoulders).
Items designed for general stretching (e.g. rubber tubing).
Items not originally designed for stretching (e.g. a section of pipe).
There's also the tried-and-true method of grabbing two clubs and swinging together.
Juli learned the hard way that the penalty of for breaking this Rule is disqualification. Still, all isn't lost. Maybe she could land a sponsorship deal with Dunkin' Donuts or Krispy Kreme as a result? I should be her agent.