CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 966736 RSD

TARIFF NO. 9015.10.80

Mr. Dennis Morse
BDP International
2721 Walker Avenue, N.W.
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49504

RE: Modification of NY J88602; Yardage Scopes used in Golf

Dear Mr. Morse:

On September 19, 2003, the Director, National Commodity Specialist Division of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection issued to you a ruling, NY J88602, regarding the classification of a product under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) imported by your client, Meijer Distribution, described as a Golfer’s Gift Pack. The Golfer’s Gift Pack contained several items that are used in connection with playing golf. In a letter dated September 29, 2003, you requested that we reconsider the tariff classification of one item contained in the Golfer’s Gift Pack, the yardage scope. In NY J88602, the National Commodity Specialist Division held that the yardage scope is classified in subheading 9506.39.00, HTSUS. We now believe that this classification was incorrect. This ruling sets forth the correct classification of the yardage scope.


The subject merchandise is a 7 x 20 mm yardage scope used for playing golf. A yardage scope is a monocular with yardage and meter markings on the lens. The yardage scope is designed to assist a golfer in selecting a golf club by determining the distance on a golf course between the ball and the flagpole.


What is the classification under the HTSUS of the yardage scopes?

LAW AND ANALYSIS: Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI’s). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may then be applied. The Harmonized Commodity Description And Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN’s) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding on the contracting parties, and therefore not dispositive, the EN’s provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the system. Customs believes the EN’s should always be consulted. See T.D. 8980, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989). The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

9015 Surveying (including photogrammetrical surveying), hydrographic, oceanographic, hydrological, meteorological or geophysical instruments and appliances, excluding compasses; rangefinders; parts and accessories thereof:



* * * * * * *

9506 Articles and equipment for general physical exercise, gymnastics, athletic, other sports (including table-tennis) or outdoor games, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; swimming pools and wading pools; parts and accessories thereof:

Golf clubs and other golf equipment; parts and accessories thereof:

9506.39.00 Other.

* * * * * * * Note 3 to Chapter 95 of the HTSUS states that “Subject to note 1 above, parts and accessories which are suitable for use solely or principally with articles of this chapter are to be classified with those articles.”

In addition the General ENs to Chapter 95 state that “Each of the headings of this Chapter also covers identifiable parts and accessories of articles of this Chapter which are suitable for use solely or principally therewith, and provided they are not articles excluded by Note 1 to this Chapter.”

One of the first issues that we must consider is whether the yardage scopes should be regarded as golf equipment which would be classified in heading 9506, HTSUS.

EN 95.06 (B) indicates that the heading covers

Requisites for other sports and outdoor games…: …

(3) Golf clubs and other equipment such as golf balls, golf tees.

Based on the use of the word “requisite” in the ENs, we believe that the term golf equipment in heading 9506 includes only items that are essential for playing golf such as clubs, ball and tees. Items that may be related to the experience of playing golf, but are not necessary for playing golf, such as the yardage scopes, would not be considered golf equipment within the meaning of heading 9506, HTSUS.

Under Note 3 to Chapter 95, HTSUS and the ENs to Chapter 95, the other issue that must be resolved in determining if the yard scopes are classified in heading 9506, HTSUS, is whether they should be considered parts and accessories of golf clubs or golf equipment.

With respect to whether the yardage scopes constitute parts of golf clubs, it is a well-established rule that a "part" of an article is something necessary to the completion of that article. It is an integral, constituent, or component part, without which the article to which it is to be joined, could not function as such article." United States v. Willoughby Camera Stores, Inc., 21 CCPA 322, 324, T.D. 46,851 (1933) (emphasis in original), cert. denied, 292 U.S. 640 (1934). Accordingly, it is evident that the yardage scopes do not constitute parts of golf clubs or other golf equipment within the meaning of heading 9506, HTSUS, as they are not integral or necessary to the playing of golf. The term "accessory" is not defined in either the tariff schedule or the Explanatory Notes. In prior rulings, Customs has indicated that an accessory is generally an article that is not necessary to enable the goods with which it is used to fulfill their intended function. An accessory must be identifiable as being intended solely or principally for use with a specific article. Accessories are of secondary or subordinate importance, not essential in and of themselves. They must, however, somehow contribute to the effectiveness of the principal article (e.g., facilitate the use or handling of the principal article, widen the range of its uses, or improve its operation.) See HQ 966354 dated June 18, 2003.

In Rollerblade, Inc. v. U.S. 116 F. Supp. 2d 1247 (CIT 2000), aff’d, 282 F.3d 1349 (CAFC 2002), the courts employed the common meaning of the term accessory, and derived from various dictionaries that an accessory must relate directly to the thing accessorized, and not the activity associated with the article. Specifically the courts held that inline roller skating protective gear was not an accessory because the protective gear did not directly act on or contact the roller skates in any way. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit noted that the protective gear does not directly act on the roller skates at all. Unlike a roller skate part or accessory, the protective gear does not directly affect the skates’ operation. Thus, based on the common meaning of “accessory” and language of the applicable subheading, the court sustained the trial court’s conclusion that Rollerblade's imported protective gear is not a roller skate accessory.

Similarly, in this instance, we note that the yardage scopes may relate to the general activity of playing golf, by assisting a player in deciding what club to use. However, the yardage scopes do not directly act on or directly affect the operation of golf clubs or other golf equipment such as the balls or tees. We note that the yardage scopes will not facilitate a player’s swing or affect the flight of a golf ball. Accordingly, we conclude that the yardage scopes are not classified as accessories for golf clubs or golf equipment.

Significantly, in HQ 084941 dated October 3, 1989, Customs considered the classification of a monocular golf scope, which like the yardage scope involved in this case, was designed to allow the user to determine the distance between the user and the flagpole on a golf course. We determined that the monocular golf scopes were classified in subheading 9015.10.80, HTSUS as rangefinders, other. The merchandise that was the subject of HQ 084941 appears to be almost identical to the yardage scopes involved in this case.

Based on the above analysis, we conclude that the yardage scopes are classified in subheading 9015.10.80, HTSUS, as rangefinders, other.


The yardage scopes used in golf are classified in subheading, 9015.10.80, HTSUS, as: “…rangefinders…Rangefinders: other.”


NY J88602 dated September 19, 2003 is modified. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625(c), this ruling is effective immediately.


Myles B. Harmon, Director, Commercial Rulings Division