Crime On The Golf Course: The Use Of Illegal Equipment

The Polara Golf Ball is among the more [in]famous non-conforming equipment

Polara Golf is among the more well-known non-conforming equipment companies

OK, that title is totally tongue-in-cheek.  Sarcastic even.  It’s amazing what an uproar is caused when a golfer finds out that another golfer is using “illegal” golf equipment.  You know, for a sport who’s players claim they are “playing against themselves,” they sure are awfully worried about what everyone else is doing.

Let’s start with that word…”Illegal.”  That’s a funny way to put it.  Illegal…not “non-regulation,” but illegal…like the golf course S.W.A.T. Team is going to come repelling out of the trees and surround you right there on the fairway for using the old Condor golf ball.  No other commonly played sport (by non-pro athletes) refers to non-regulation equipment as illegal…only golf.  People don’t call a basketball with better grip an illegal ball.  It’s simply a non-regulation ball.  When I played softball in a league, we didn’t care if someone wore specifically softball cleats or not.  Some players didn’t even wear cleats!  The softball justice squad didn’t bust through the gates to take us down.  No arrests, no charges.

Secondly, why does it matter so much?  If you’re out playing a pickup basketball game, do you care what type of ball you have?  Do you call someone on it when they show up without a Spalding Official NBA ball?  I sure don’t, and at $90+ each, who can blame them for not showing up with one?  If you’re playing a game of touch football, do you care if you’re not playing with an official Wilson regulation NFL ball?  Of course not.  So why do you care if someone plays with a Polara golf ball?  Or an “illegally” weighted putter?  Or pretty much anything made by a company like NGC Golf?  I’ll tell you why.  Because as much as you claim to be, you’re not really “playing against yourself,” are you?

In the grand scheme of things, in relation to playing at the pro level, you and I playing on our local public (or private) course is no different than a few guys playing pickup hoops or beer league softball.  So what do you care what kind of ball someone else uses?  Why do you care if some other guy is using an “illegally” weighted putter?  What does it matter to you if the face of somebody’s driver has “illegal” grooves?  You’re supposed to be playing against yourself, right?  So worry about what you do, not what some other guy does.  I played an entire round with a guy who used the Polara balls.  I even tried it out once!  So what do I care?

However, if there’s money on the line…well now…that’s a different story.

Swing ’til you’re happy!


  1. If you aren’t playing against me for money, I truly don’t care what rules you play by, and what rules you ignore.

  2. Ted B. (Charging Rhino) says:

    If you’re not playing for playing in a league…or posting a GHIN-score…it really doesn’t matter as-long-as your playing companion know. But it’s important that they know that you are using “non-conforming equipment”—which is the correct-term.

    The same is true of waiving the 14-Club Rule, and whatever Local Rules or casual rules you’re playing-under.

  3. Another of our traditions that we could maybe start rethinking? Along with women in Muirfield…

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