Monday, October 19, 2015

Ask Linda #1172-Use a practice mat for practice swings

Hi Linda,

I find that I can hit better shots when I take a few full-power practice swings prior to hitting the ball. The issue on iron shots is that I don’t want to tear up a bunch of turf unnecessarily. Am I allowed to drop a small practice mat and take a few swings on it prior to executing my shot?

Lou from San Jose, California

Dear Lou,

Using a portable practice mat for your practice swings would be a breach of Rule 14-3. A practice mat is considered "unusual equipment." Players are prohibited from using unusual equipment that might assist them in their play. The penalty is disqualification. I verified this ruling with officials at the USGA headquarters.

The Etiquette section of the rulebook tells players to avoid removing divots when taking practice swings, which is what you are trying to do by using your practice mat.

Players should not be tearing up the turf with their practice swings. My suggestion would be that you choke down on the grip for your practice swing, so that the club barely brushes the top of the grass. In the interest of pace of play, I would also like to see you limit your practice swings to just one. Except for delicate chip shots, where a second rehearsal might be understandable, no one wants to stand around waiting to play while someone takes several full practice swings prior to hitting the ball.

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