Now Hear This: Audio Equipment and the Rules
While many of us hit the links to escape technology and all our devices, one of the things we see (or hear) more often on the course nowadays is music. Thanks to Bluetooth personal listening devices, music, podcasts and live streams of events are all normal aspects of our daily lives. Whether through personal headphones or on a mobile speaker, golfers are using audio equipment more and more on the course. A question we get asked quite often at the SCGA revolves around such devices and whether they can be used during a round of golf. Let’s find out!
Just like anything else under the Rules of Golf, the definitions are key. Equipment is defined in the Rules as the following:
- Anything used, worn, held or carried by the player or the player’s caddie.
- Objects used for the care of the course, such as rakes, are equipment only while they are being held or carried by the player or caddie.
- Objects, other than clubs, carried by someone else for the player are not equipment, even if they belong to the player.
So, in relation to Bluetooth devices like headphones or mobile speakers, these items would be considered part of the player’s equipment (whether in use or not) if carried by the player in the bag, on their cart, etc.
USE OF AUDIO EQUIPMENT
Rule 4.3a (4) covers specifically whether players can listen to audio during the round (there are no restrictions before or after rounds or when play is suspended). Just like many other questions in the Rules, the answer as to whether audio equipment may be used depends on why it’s being used.
- To listen to background music or other matters unrelated to the competition… but consideration should be shown to others and not distract them.
- Music or other audio cannot be listened to if it eliminates distractions or helps with swing tempo.
- If Model Local Rule G-8 has been put in place by the Committee prohibiting or restricting the use of such devices.
In summary, if you want to put your headphones on or play music on your cart speaker, go right ahead. If you are competing in a competition, determine if the Committee has prohibited their use. Nevertheless, always be respectful of your fellow players!