Golf Equipment Violation

golf equipment violation

Golf is a sport with a very rich tradition, and because of this, golf rules often focus on players' judgment, skills, and abilities. The USGA is very specific in its rulings of which clubs, balls, gloves, and other pieces of equipment are prohibited in competition. These rules are in place to maintain the integrity of the sport and prevent unfair advantages.


In golf, an equipment violation is a penalty assessed when a golfer could gain an unfair advantage in competition by using equipment that does not meet rules and regulations. Equipment violations can occur due to the clubs, balls, gloves, and any other equipment a golfer could use on the course. For example, a golfer may not carry more than 14 clubs in their bag at a time, and they may not use a club that has been altered or does not meet USGA regulations.

If a golfer commits an equipment violation, they will immediately be penalized. These penalties can range from stroke or hole penalties, or disqualification in certain cases. Every competition has officials on the course to ensure none of the athletes are committing these violations. If someone is suspicious of a violation, the officials will assess the golfer’s equipment and decide whether or not the piece of equipment would be allowed in the competition. Equipment violations regarding balls and clubs are considered the most serious and will usually result in disqualification. Other types of equipment like gloves, medical tape, and other accessories are usually met with a stroke penalty on the first offense. Golf always tries to maintain its traditional values, and golfers take the integrity of the game very seriously, which is why they have strict rules regarding equipment violations. Recently on the PGA Tour, Rory Sabbatini was caught using an illegal external attachment on his clubface and was disqualified from the RSM Classic as a result.


If league or tournament officials find a golfer in violation of one of these rules, a penalty will be assessed based on the severity of the violation. The USGA rules call for the disqualification of a player who violates rules regarding the clubs allowed for use, the balls allowed for use, and golfers who violate rules on repeat occasions.  For other instances of equipment violations, which are considered less severe, golfers are assessed stroke or hole penalties, depending on if they are in stroke or match play, respectively.


  • A player intentionally changes a club’s performance capabilities by adjusting a club head to a different angle during a round.
  • A player has more than 14 clubs in their bag at any time during a round.
  • A player shares a club with another golfer on the course during a round.
  • A player uses a ball that has been deliberately altered to improve performance.
  • A player uses an electronic caddy device that can measure wind speed and elevation or give the golfer an advantage that reduces the need for skill or judgment in the game.
  • A player listens to music or other audio to eliminate distractions, improve tempo, or focus their swing.

Similar Penalties to Equipment Violations


What is an equipment violation in golf?

An equipment violation in the sport of golf is a penalty assessed to golfers who use an illegal piece of equipment or break a rule associated with clubs, balls, gloves, or other equipment. Golfers are punished with either a stroke penalty, loss of hole penalty, or disqualification when found in violation of one of these rules. Tournament and league officials will rule on whether the piece of equipment violates the rules and assess penalties accordingly.

What are the consequences of an equipment violation in golf?

When a golfer is found to be using equipment that violates league or tournament rules, they will be assessed a penalty of adding strokes, losing the hole, or disqualifying them from the event. The penalties that most harm the integrity of the game, like altering clubs and balls, are usually met with disqualification, while other penalties like illegal gloves tend to face less severe stroke penalties.

Belly putters are legal in golf. In 2016, the USGA banned anchored putting in the sport. They were very insistent when they made this decision that they were only banning the specific technique and not the equipment that was used, so long as it conforms with the general USGA club rules. Several current PGA Tour golfers use belly putters in competition, most notably Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley.