November - 2017
I have seen a couple of players around the course using ear buds and/or listening to music while playing in our tournaments. Unfortunately this is not kosher.
Rule 14-3 governs the use of equipment and devices (including electronic devices) that might assist a player in making a specific stroke or generally in his play.
Golf is a challenging game in which success should depend on the judgement, skills and abilities of the player. This principle guides the USGA in determining whether the use of any item is in breach of Rule 14-3.
For detailed specifications and interpretations on the conformity of equipment and devices under Rule 14-3 and the process for consultation and submission regarding equipment and devices, see Appendix IV.
Except as provided in the Rules, during a stipulated round the player must not use any artificial device or unusual equipment, or use any equipment in an abnormal manner:
a. That might assist him in making a stroke or in his play; or
b. For the purpose of gauging or measuring distance or conditions that might affect his play; or
c. That might assist him in gripping the club, except that:
(i) gloves may be worn provided that they are plain gloves;
(ii) resin, powder and drying or moisturizing agents may be used; and
(iii) a towel or handkerchief may be wrapped around the grip.
Now to the specific decisions concerning Rule 14-3a that speak to our questions about ear buds and music. The first Decision explains that it is a breach and player is subject to a 2 stroke penalty. The second Decision indicates that a multiple breach of the same rule is disqualification.
Player Listens to Music or Broadcast During Round
Q. A player uses a device to listen to music, a radio broadcast or any other type of broadcast during a stipulated round. What is the ruling?
A. Under Rule 14-3a, a player may not use any artificial device or unusual equipment that “might assist him in making a stroke or in his play.” Listening to music or a broadcast while making a stroke or for a prolonged period might assist the player in his play, for example, by eliminating distractions or promoting a good tempo. Therefore, the use of an artificial device to listen to music or a broadcast, whether or not through headphones, while making a stroke or for a prolonged period of time during a stipulated round is a breach of Rule 14-3. However, it would not be a breach of Rule 14-3 for a player to listen to a device briefly, results of another sporting event or traffic information, while walking between the putting green of one hole and the teeing ground of the next hole. example, to obtain the results of another sporting event or traffic information, while walking between the putting green of one hole and the teeing ground of the next hole.
Player Wears Non-Conforming Glove for Multiple Strokes
Q. During play of the 1st hole, a player plays his tee shot while wearing a non-conforming glove and continues to wear the glove until after making his second stroke. He is then informed that wearing such a glove is a breach of Rule 14-3. What is the penalty?
A. Despite the wearing of the glove being continuous, each stroke is an intervening event in defining a breach and therefore the player is disqualified for breaching Rule 14-3 more than once during a stipulated round (see Decision 1-4/14). If the player had stopped wearing the glove before making the second stroke, there would only have been one breach and the penalty would be loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play. (New)
By the way, if you have a rules question, please e-mail me through the club's website and I'll be happy to again give you my opinion.