Ask the Rules Guy: Swingin' in the rain

Ask the Rules Guy
Ask the Rules Guy

SWINGIN' IN THE RAIN
Rules Guy, A friend and I were on the 18th hole when the sky opened up and it began pouring rain. We only had one hole to go, so we figured we'd just play through it. By the time I found my tee shot, my clothes and my clubs were completely soaked. I took out a towel to dry off my grip, but it stayed as slick as ever. Fearing we'd never finish the round, I tried something different -- I wrapped my towel around the grip itself , swung, and had no problem holding on to the club. My buddy was grateful that we were able to get on our way, but he told me that if we weren't so desperate to move on, he would have insisted I take a penalty for using illegal equipment when I used my towel for extra grip. Is it true that I shouldn't have been allowed to do that?
-- Aaron Dimiero, via email

There are few situations more ripe for Rules confusion than a round of golf in the rain. It probably appeared to your friend that you were in violation of Rule 14-3, which forbids players from using unusual equipment, or using equipment in an unusual way. The penalty for violating that Rule is disqualification, so it would seem that your friend did you a pretty big favor to overlook it. However, as the Rules Gal often tells me, there are exceptions to every rule. In this case, the exception lies in Rule 14-3a(iii), which explicitly allows a player to wrap a towel or handkerchief around his grip. Tell your buddy he was wrong on this one, and the next time the two of you are playing in the rain, you have my permission not to share your towel.

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