If a Golf Club Breaks, Can I Replace It During that Same Round?

Man Angrily Breaking his Golf Club
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You're playing a round of golf golf and discover that one of your clubs is damaged or broken. Can you replace that club during the round?

The answer used to depend on how the club suffered the damage. If you broke or damaged the club in anger — for example, as a result of slamming it into a tree or thrown down the fairway — the answer was no, you could not replace it. However, if the damage occurred "in the normal course of play" (e.g., the clubhead snaps off a driver during the swing, or an iron is bent when trying to play from under a tree branch) there were options for replacement.

But the 2019 edition of the Rules of Golf made some significant changes to the rules around broken and damaged golf clubs.

The current rulings, both found under Rule 4.1, are these:

  • First, any golf club that is damaged or broken can, if the golfer wishes to, continued to be used for play. This might not be a good idea for reasons having to do with the integrity of the club and the amount of damage. But, as far as the rules are concerned, it is OK. This is true even if the club was damaged by the golfer in an angry fit.
  • Second, a golfer cannot replace a golf club during the same round unless it was damaged by an outside influence or natural forces, or by another golfer or person other than yourself or your caddie.