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When Has a Golf Ball Been Illegally "Heated"?


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When is a golf ball considered to have been illegally "heated?"  For example...

1. If a golfer drives to the course with a golf ball over a heater vent in his car, is that illegal? Or 

2. If a golfer uses a "Hot Biscuits" or other type ball warmer plugged in before the round but unplugged before teeing off on the first tee, is that illegal? Or

3. If a golfer keeps his golf balls in a thermos/insulated cup or bag with hot water before the round, but empties the hot water before teeing off on the first tee, is that    illegal?

In short, can a ball be heated before a round begins?  And if it can, can the ball be kept in an insulated container that is not "actively heating" the ball but simply retaining the heat already within the ball during the round?

I know it is illegal to carry a ball in a pocket with a hand warmer in the same pocket, by the way.

Be kind with your answers, please

Mike

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13 hours ago, curlydastooge said:

When is a golf ball considered to have been illegally "heated?"  For example...

1. If a golfer drives to the course with a golf ball over a heater vent in his car, is that illegal? Or 

2. If a golfer uses a "Hot Biscuits" or other type ball warmer plugged in before the round but unplugged before teeing off on the first tee, is that illegal? Or

3. If a golfer keeps his golf balls in a thermos/insulated cup or bag with hot water before the round, but empties the hot water before teeing off on the first tee, is that    illegal?

In short, can a ball be heated before a round begins?  And if it can, can the ball be kept in an insulated container that is not "actively heating" the ball but simply retaining the heat already within the ball during the round?

I know it is illegal to carry a ball in a pocket with a hand warmer in the same pocket, by the way.

Be kind with your answers, please

Mike

From Rule 4.2...

(2) Deliberately Altered Ball Must Not Be Played. A player must not make a stroke at a ball whose performance characteristics have been deliberately altered, such as by scuffing or heating the ball or by applying any substance (other than in cleaning it).
 

One of the relatively few places in the rules where intent is a factor.  If you deliberately heated the ball, regardless of when you did so, you’re in breach.

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12 minutes ago, David in FL said:

From Rule 4.2...

(2) Deliberately Altered Ball Must Not Be Played. A player must not make a stroke at a ball whose performance characteristics have been deliberately altered, such as by scuffing or heating the ball or by applying any substance (other than in cleaning it).
 

One of the relatively few places in the rules where intent is a factor.  If you deliberately heated the ball, regardless of when you did so, you’re in breach.

So by bringing my golf balls into the house overnight, so they’re room temperature, am I violating this? But the guys who store their bags in the clubhouse have room temperature golf balls that aren’t in violation?

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4 minutes ago, Missouri Swede said:

So by bringing my golf balls into the house overnight, so they’re room temperature, am I violating this?

I would hope not because I do the same thing. It seems like the spirit of the rule wouldn't apply to storing balls indoors at room temperature before a round starts, but I'm not a rules expert.

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19 minutes ago, Missouri Swede said:

So by bringing my golf balls into the house overnight, so they’re room temperature, am I violating this? But the guys who store their bags in the clubhouse have room temperature golf balls that aren’t in violation?

 

6 minutes ago, Darkfrog said:

I would hope not because I do the same thing. It seems like the spirit of the rule wouldn't apply to storing balls indoors at room temperature before a round starts, but I'm not a rules expert.

I would think that there’s a difference in “storing” your balls inside, and deliberately moving them inside prior to the round with the specific intent to warm them up so as to change the playing characteristics.

Regardless though, all of the examples cited in the OP are clear breaches of the rule. 

 

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7 minutes ago, David in FL said:

Regardless though, all of the examples cited in the OP are clear breaches of the rule.

Out of curiosity, what if am doing something that warms up the ball but is not deliberate?

For example, I normally keep an extra ball in my pants or vest pocket with tee, ball marker, etc. because I am prone to an errant shot from time to time and I like to be able to re-hit quickly. However, my pockets (vest or pants) are warmer than my pushcart ball storage, or stand bag pocket so it would result in warming of the ball, and logically I know ball warming is occurring, but I am not storing the ball in my pocket to deliberately warm the ball, it's just a side-effect of my intent to have an extra ball readily available.

I know this is kind of splitting hairs, but I'm trying to learn more about the rules of golf this year, so topics like this interest me.

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  • Administrator

Basically, you can do everything "normal," you're fine. You can put a ball in your pocket.

What you can't do is artificially heat them. Room temperature does not match that definition, because it's "normal" to have the balls at room temperature. Even if you leave them in the trunk of your car and it heats up, that's "normal." You're not doing something with the sole or primary purpose of heating up your golf balls.

FWIW, warming a ball barely helps. So there's almost no reason to do it. You're talking about a few yards, IIRC.

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What about carrying your golf balls in a black bag on a sunny day? We all know that the color black retains more heat than white or any other color. So would carrying the balls in a black bag be heating the balls "artificially"? Not trying to get the discussion "heated" or anything, but this is getting more and more interesting. :-)

 

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8 minutes ago, curlydastooge said:

What about carrying your golf balls in a black bag on a sunny day? We all know that the color black retains more heat than white or any other color. So would carrying the balls in a black bag be heating the balls "artificially"? Not trying to get the discussion "heated" or anything, but this is getting more and more interesting. :-)

No. That's fine. You're just carrying balls in a bag. Normal behavior.

And… the difference in black vs. white fabrics is quite minimal, actually. It's almost negligible when you've got a human inside, and barely non-negligible with something that doesn't produce its own heat inside.

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Heating before the round? This is still under discussion, there is no official answer yet.

Placing ball in an insulated container during round? As touched on above, deliberately changing the ball's playing characteristics during the round is a breach if that ball is played, Rule 4.2.

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1 hour ago, fredf said:

Heating before the round? This is still under discussion, there is no official answer yet.

Placing ball in an insulated container during round? As touched on above, deliberately changing the ball's playing characteristics during the round is a breach if that ball is played, Rule 4.2.

I suppose a way of looking at it might be maintaining the playing characteristics. When I teed off on the first hole yesterday, the balls were about 68*. The outdoor temperature lowered my golf ball temps to 47* gradually.  But is maintaining the temp at 68* a violation? Might be a prohibited use of equipment to do that, though, if it truly were effective.

I’m pretty sure we’ve already got the official answer.  If you’ve got to ask because you think it’s a violation, well ... 

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  • iacas changed the title to When Has a Golf Ball Been Illegally "Heated"?
3 hours ago, fredf said:

Heating before the round? This is still under discussion, there is no official answer yet.

Placing ball in an insulated container during round? As touched on above, deliberately changing the ball's playing characteristics during the round is a breach if that ball is played, Rule 4.2.

Reread 4.2, it certainly provides the answer.  
 

It doesn’t say when you cannot apply the heat.  It just says you cannot make a stroke at a ball that has been heated so as to deliberately alter its playing characteristics.  It could be immediately before the stroke, or 2 days before.  The rule doesn’t care about the time.  Only whether or not you did it.  


People are really over thinking this one...

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33 minutes ago, David in FL said:

People are really over thinking this one...

But then, there is a web site that claims the rule changed...… 


The PYROFLITE Microwaveable Golf Ball Warmer - YOU CAN now drive the golf ball farther and hit your irons closer to the hole! The revolutionary...

And the key phrase...….  alter its playing characteristics.   Wouldn't playing it in 40 degrees or 90 degrees weather alter the playing characteristics?  LOL

We sure can over think things...…..  LOL

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3 minutes ago, curlydastooge said:

Ahhh! Murphy's Law strikes again.  Once you open a can of worms, you're going to need a bigger can to get those worms contained....   I'm still waiting for a USGA ruling on this question... :-)

 

What question remains unclear to you?  Certainly not the original post...

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