Can Any Club Be Used to Measure Club-Lengths Under the Golf Rules?

At various points in the rules of golf, golfers are told to measure one "club-length" or two "club-lengths" in order to conduct a drop. The drop might be free relief from, for example, abnormal course conditions, or it might be a penalty drop. Either way, the rules tell us to use "club-lengths."

That means taking out a golf club and laying it on the ground to measure from where your ball is to where the drop area is.

Which brings us to the question in the headline: Can you use any club in your bag to measure a club-length? Can you use a long putter? And the answer, as of Jan. 1, 2019, is no.

Golf Club Used to Measure Is Now Specified

In the rules that were in effect through the end of 2018, any club in your bag could be used for such a measurement. You could choose a shorter club or a longer club; if you carried a long putter or broomstick putter, you could use that. Whatever your preference.

But the 2019 edition of the rules removes the choice and tells golfers we must use the longest club in our bags to measure club-lengths — but not the putter. The putter, under the new rules, cannot be used for measuring.

So the two parts to the equation now are:

  • You can't use your putter;
  • You must use the longest club in your bag other than the putter.
For golfers who carry a driver, then, the driver will be used to measure club-lengths.

The Definition of Club-Length

In the Full Edition of the rules, "club-length" is defined this way:

"The length of the longest club of the 14 (or fewer) clubs the player has during the round, other than a putter.

"For example, if the longest club (other than a putter) a player has during a round is a 43-inch (109.22 cm) driver, a club-length is 43 inches for that player for that round.

"Club-lengths are used in defining the player’s teeing area on each hole and in determining the size of the player’s relief area when taking relief under a Rule."

In addition, the definition includes several interpretations to clarify, one of which is that the club-length consists of "the length of the entire club, starting at the toe of the club and ending at the butt end of the grip."

Photo credit: "Golf Bag" by RyanCrierie is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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