Are you allowed to test conditions when playing golf in the wind?


Bit breezy? Our rules guru explains what you can and can’t do when it comes to working out where the gusts are coming from

We’ve all been stumped by that swirling breeze – not quite knowing whether it’s helping or hindering. There’s not much more that can affect a ball than the wind and conquering Mother Nature’s breath can be a big part of getting out of a round in one piece.

We all know we can snatch a handful of grass and throw it up into the air – as dramatically as possible, of course – to try and work out the puzzle.

But what if we wanted to use a handkerchief, a tissue, or a towel to do the same job? After all, we could hold that in a hand and watch the gales rush through it.

Let’s get stuck in…

Rules of Golf explained: Playing golf in the wind

There are all sorts of things covering wind, and other weather conditions, and we’ll get into some of those in a second.

But let’s cut to the chase. Don’t use any artificial objects to get wind-related information. Rule 4.3a (2) covers this and gives the example of using powder to assess the direction of the wind.

But a subsequent interpretation goes further and makes it clear that “other artificial objects must not be used for the sole purpose of getting wind-related information”.

So if you took out your towel, and hoisted it simply to see see which way the wind was blowing, you would be in breach of Rule 4.3.

Falling foul of that can get messy. You’ll get the general penalty for the first breach (two shots or loss of hole in match play) and if you do it again in an act that’s unrelated to the first breach – say if you repeated the trick on another hole – the sanction is disqualification.

Now I’ve lectured you on what not to do, what can you do?

You are allowed to utilise any type of weather information, and that includes wind speed, can you can find in a forecast and you’re also allowed to measure both temperature and humidity at the golf course.

But while you can click onto the Met Office app to tell you how blustery it is, don’t do anything that actually measures the wind speed where you’re standing.

Have a question for our Rules of Golf expert?

Despite the simplification of the Rules of Golf at the beginning of 2019, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. And as I’ve passed the R&A’s level 2 rules exam with distinction, I am more than happy to help.

If you’ve sent me an email and are yet to hear back from me, I will try to answer your query. I’m still inundated with requests and trying to get through them.

Just to reiterate, I continue to receive emails from players hoping I can intervene in a club rules dispute. For fairly obvious reasons, I can’t do that and would direct those players either to their county or to the rules department at the R&A for a definitive judgement.

Click here for the full Rules of Golf explained archive and details of how to submit a question to our expert.

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