Referee Challenge – Too many clubs in a four-ball match

I’m sure we all remember Ian Woosnam carrying too many clubs on the first hole in the 2001 Open at Lytham. The 2 stroke penalty and mental trauma arguably cost him his best chance of winning the open – he ended up 4 shots back and tied for 3rd. When interviewed in 2012 he said he still hadn’t got over the incident and perhaps never would.

The scenario here is a bit different, and I’ll ask a few supplementary questions after the video.

So the main question – what is the ruling and so what is the match position as they stand on the third tee? (Reminder that they have lost both the first two holes and both players on the same side have had 15 clubs in the bag for those two holes).

Supplementary Questions:

  1. What if only one of the team had been carrying 15 clubs?
  2. What if they had discovered the error on the 5th tee?
  3. What if the first player discovered their error on the 3rd and the second player on the 5th?
  4. What should they do now they have discovered 15 clubs in their bag?
  5. What if the discovery was made after their opponents had both teed off from the 2nd tee?
  6. Again discovered on the 2nd tee, but one of the team had also teed off?

Please leave your answers in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Referee Challenge – Too many clubs in a four-ball match

  1. Here are my guesses – how did I do?

    1. Max 2 hole penalty but already 2 down so no impact
    2. Again max 2 hole penalty so if they won 3rd or 4th then deducted up to 2
    3. Same as 2 above ( or is it only if that player won either 3rd or 4th)
    4. Clearly indicate which club they are not going to use.
    5. Play out 2nd hole then apply penalty
    6. Same as 5 as hole has started


  2. The ruling is that the match score is revised by deducting two holes so they are 4 down.
    1. The same penalty applies
    2. The match score at that point would have been revised by deducting two holes
    3. The penalty has already been applied to the side so no additional penalty
    4. Each must declare one club out of play
    5. Although their opponents had teed off they had not started the hole so only a one hole deduction would apply
    6. If one of the team has teed off then the side has started the hole so a two hole deduction would be made on completion of the 2nd hole.
    ps I am invoking 20.2a


  3. Thank you Don and Simon for your responses. I think Don has things absolutely correct, this is a match adjustment (rather than loss of hole) penalty and is only incurred once the person with the 15 clubs has started the hole. However, I do suspect that the majority of golfers would have given answers agreeing with Simon if they had been bold enough to leave a comment.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s