Ruling Range - April 2017
After a wayward drive, you find your ball nestled up against a tree with only one option to advance it forward - swing hard, try not to destroy your club and hope for the best. 7-iron in hand, you take a big hack, slam the shaft of the club into the truck of the tree and hit a miraculous punch-out that lands just short of the green. After high-fiving your buddies, you look down and notice that your 7-iron is bent because of the impact of hitting the tree. The self-appointed golf rules aficionado in your group sees the same thing and says: "Great shot, but now you can't use that club the rest of the round."
Is he correct?
No. He's not correct. Because you damaged the 7-iron during the normal course of play, you can continue using it in the condition it's left in. If you had thrown the club, slammed it on the ground in frustration or altered it any way outside of the normal course of play, the club would be considered unfit for play and you would ultimately be disqualified for using it. It's a tricky rule, but it's one to remember if you're trying to be hero in the woods!