By now you might have heard about Anne Van Dam snapping her driver on a gallery rope while riding back to the 18th tee for the first hole of a playoff with Smilla Tarning Soenderby and Lisa Pettersson at last weekend’s KPMG Women’s Irish Open. A horrible bit of luck at an inopportune time to be sure. Van Dam teed off with her 3-wood and did manage to reach the green in two on the par 5, before losing to Soenderby’s walk-off eagle in the Ladies European Tour event, but what you might be wondering is: what options did Van Dam have?

Rules changes made by the R&A and USGA in 2023 expanded the alternatives for Van Dam to replace her Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond driver. Previously the rules stated if a player starts with 14 clubs or added clubs up to the limit of 14 and then loses or damages a club during the round (or while play is stopped), the player could not replace it with another club.

The change implemented this year to Rule 4.1, however, allows for a player to replace or fix any damaged club except for cases of anger or abuse. Certainly, busting a driver with a gallery rope does not fall under anger or abuse, so Van Dam could have replaced her driver—had she had a back-up.

Unfortunately for Van Dam, her back-up driver was already in the bag after an airline damaged her ‘gamer’ on the way to the tournament. But had she another driver in her locker, it could have been fetched and put in play.

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