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March 14, 2019

Mark Russell

John Mutch

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

MARK RUSSELL: Well first of all, Harold Varner didn't do anything intentionally wrong and this is not at all a new rule, this rule's been in the book for a long time, but he had a problem with his driver on the range and he did not, he did not want to play with it. And he started with 13 clubs. And he asked us if he could replace it and the answer was, yes, you can. He started with 13, so he could replace one and become 14. But --

Q. He can add.
MARK RUSSELL: He can add, he can add, that's right.

So we were under the impression he was going to take the driver back to the locker room and his agent was going to come back with another one. But he wanted to use that shaft. So the clubs were interchangeable, so he took the head off and had the shaft and he was going to put the driver head, who he sent a representative to obtain and bring it back. Well, he couldn't take that shaft with him on the golf course. Cannot be assembled on the golf course. And he was, his caddie was told that when he asked one of our officials that. So he left it there on the tee and the walking scorer picked it up and took it on the golf course and Harold and the caddie were aware of this. So when they brought the head out and assembled it out there, it broke Rule 4. Can't do that. They don't want clubs assembled and adjusted on the golf course. So that's the reason for that rule. The rule basically says a player must not build a club from parts carried by anyone for the player during the round. They were aware of that situation, so that's why he received a two-stroke penalty.

Q. How could he have avoided the penalty?
MARK RUSSELL: If he would have left the shaft on the tee and they would assemble the club there and then taken it out to him.

Q. Or in the locker room?
MARK RUSSELL: Or in the locker room.

JOHN MUTCH: Or in the parking lot or anywhere.

Q. So when the scorer brought it to him, he should have said, I don't want it.
MARK RUSSELL: He should have alerted, said, look, you can't take that with you. But he was thinking, I guess he was thinking he couldn't carry it. But he was aware that someone was carrying the club with him.

Q. The shaft?
MARK RUSSELL: The shaft. On the golf course. And you can't. And it's a very strict -- John, you can speak to the adjustable rule.

JOHN MUTCH: So when clubs started becoming adjustable over a decade ago, this went into the book to not make it readily accessible for somebody to carry a different driver head or different shaft and assemble it during a round. It doesn't mean they can't do it, it just means they can't do it with something that's been carried during the round. They could go back to the locker room and do it, they could go to the parking lot and do it and use something that, one component that, these components that weren't previously carried. So it's not something you can't do it, it's just a very strict, not letting you do it while you've carried it or someone else has carried it for you or with anyone that's playing on the golf course.

Q. Can you talk to why the scorer picked the shaft up and did this?
MARK RUSSELL: Well I'm not really sure. I mean, I guess they were thinking they were helping out or whatever, but when Harold and his caddie were aware that a walking scorer was carrying the golf club and it was assembled on the golf course, that's when it violated the rule.

Q. At what point was he made aware that it was a possible violation?
JOHN MUTCH: It was on the 11th hole. Soon afterwards. So if he had added the club and then not hit another shot -- he didn't use that club, thank God -- but if he hit another shot, if he had done it before he hit that shot he would have never, it would never have been added, so it would have been no penalty. But he had subsequently played another shot and at that point it's considered added, so it's a two-shot penalty at that point.

Q. Just as a hypothetical. If he would have walked out of bounds and assembled it, are you telling me that that would have been okay?
MARK RUSSELL: We're not talking hypotheticals, but you can't do it on the golf course.

Q. Okay. So out of bounds is not on the golf course.
MARK RUSSELL: Whatever, I'm not answering that.

JOHN MUTCH: Does that mean inside the ropes?

MARK RUSSELL: When you start, when you start a stipulated round you can't carry that with you on the golf course.

JOHN MUTCH: If you do carry it with you, you can't then use it to build a component.


JOHN MUTCH: If you have a shaft in your bag, you cannot use that shaft that day to reassemble a club.

Q. So did this happen on the 10th hole or the 11th hole?
JOHN MUTCH: It happened on the 11th.

Q. How did you find out about it?
JOHN MUTCH: Did he call for a ruling or something like that? I'm not sure.

MARK RUSSELL: Yes. I mean, he was in the process -- he had talked to some of our officials, Harold was, Harold was trying not to do anything wrong, it's just a situation where the lady scorer, I don't know what the situation was, if she thought she was doing something nice or something, but when they were aware of that, very strict rules that you can't basically alter the golf clubs on the, the components on the golf course during the round.

Q. I'm sorry, I didn't hear, hen was it, you found out, how did you find out?
MARK RUSSELL: We were very much involved with it from the get-go.

JOHN MUTCH: It was probably a ruling call or something. A question.


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