Pro was disqualified from the Houston Open for knowingly breaking the 14 club rule

Staring at missed pieces at the Cadence Bank Houston Open, Mark Hubbard went to great lengths to right the ship and end his competitive season on a positive note.

After an equally frustrating 8-degree start made him comfortable off the cut line, he went rogue and made an unorthodox equipment change for his final nine pits: He put his primary driver into a timeout and added a second driver he wanted to test in turn, the illegal club 15.

He continued to use the extra driver and shot par on the back nine with a two-putt splash, a slight improvement over his previous 27-hole stretch, but even so, a disappointing 36-hole 9 total.

It was a bold move, for which he knew he would be punished, but Hubbard did not fully understand the extent of the punishment he would be given.

Rule officials informed Hubbard that intentionally breaching the rule would not result in a two-stroke penalty for each hole he holds the 15th club. Instead, when he knowingly broke rule by adding club #15, he was violating rule 4.1c, not just rule 4.1b.

“Where during a round a player becomes aware that he has breached Rule 4.1b (1), (2) or (3) for having more than 14 clubs or for a strike with another player’s club, the player shall immediately take action clearly indicating each club to be disqualified. from playing,” the rule states.

What he fails to understand is that knowingly Adding the 15th club and not taking immediate action while using said club in the back nine will not only result in penalties and missed pieces, but will result in his disqualification.

The rules state that “a player receives the general penalty (two penalties) for each hole where the breach occurred, up to a maximum of four penalties per round (adding two penalties on each of the first and second holes where the breach occurred.)”

When approached by ride officials, Hubbard matter-of-factly stated that he knew what he was doing, he was missing lanes, and thus added a driver with a different specification at the turn.

Driver added with the impression that it would be a two-shot standing penalty on each hole, but the rules also say: “If a player adds excess clubs during a round, those added clubs are to be taken out of play.”

Definitely an interesting character on the tour, The 33-year-old Hubbard made 168 career starts on the PGA Tour and had a promising start to his 2022-2023 season, posting a T-5 at the Sanderson Farms Championship in early October to go along with two other top 30 finishes.

Since then, he’s missed a weekend in three straight events, picking up two missed cuts and a DQ.

It appears he simply made the executive decision — faced with the inevitability of cutting the line at Memorial Park and the frustration of the tee — to find some lanes in regulation before his year is up.

He’ll have plenty of time to straighten out the driver (he’s been bleeding strokes off the tee, sitting at -0.335 strokes earned per round to start the season), as his brother offered some clarity on Twitter after the misunderstanding and subsequent DQ.


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