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Explain normal course of play
Graham Lewis - photo by Photo provided.

Golf is fun, whether playing solo or with others. Having a basic understanding of the game’s rules makes it easier to enjoy the experience and improve your skills. In this periodic column, I provide brief explanations of golf rules and answer commonly asked questions.

Question: In a recent question on the rules of golf we covered the rule on replacing a club that is broken during the normal course of play. I have been asked to explain what is meant by the "normal course of play".

Answer: The term "normal course of play" is intended to cover all reasonable acts but specifically excludes cases of abuse. The USGA book on the Decisions on the Rules of Golf gives us some examples. In addition to making a stroke, practice swing or practice stroke, some examples of acts that are in the "normal course of play" include:

• Removing or replacing a club in the bag.

• Using a club to search for or retrieve a ball.

• Leaning on a club while waiting to play.

• Teeing a ball.

• Removing a ball from the hole

• Accidentally dropping a club.

Examples of acts that are not in the "normal course of play" include:

• Throwing a club in anger or otherwise (Johnny has learned his lesson).

• Slamming a club into your bag or intentionally striking something (e.g., the ground or a tree) with the club other than during a stroke, practice swing or practice stroke.

Thanks for the question. As always remember to have fun while playing or practicing the game of golf.


Lewis is a member of the United States Golf Teachers Federation. E-mail him at

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