Augusta - Governing bodies, the Royal & Ancient and the US Golf Association, introduced a local rule on Tuesday allowing players to replace a broken or significantly damaged club, except in cases of abuse.
The clarification, taking effect immediately, describes a "broken or significantly damaged" club as meeting the following conditions:
- The shaft breaks into pieces, splinters or is bent (but not when the shaft is only dented)
- The club face impact area is visibly deformed (but not when the club face is only scratched)
- The clubhead is visibly and significantly deformed
- The clubhead is detached or loose from the shaft, or
- The grip is loose
A player, however, is not allowed to replace his or her club solely because there is a crack in the club face or clubhead.
Prior to the change, players could repair but not replace a club.
The latest move reverses a change that was made in this year's dramatic overhaul of the Rules of Golf.
The rule change hit 2017 PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas in the opening round of February's PGA Honda Classic when his 9-iron struck a tree on his swing.
While he could have continued to use the club with the bent shaft, he could not replace it, so he decided not to use it at all.