Major Change: Measuring the Size of the Relief Area Where a Ball Must be Dropped and Played March 12, 2018

Golf's New Rules: Major Changes

2019 Rule: Players will continue to drop a ball when taking relief, but the dropping procedure will be changed in several ways as detailed in Rule 14.3:

  • The focus of the dropping procedure will be on a specific “relief area” set by the Rule under which relief is being taken and will be either one or two club-lengths from a reference point (and may have certain other limitations).
  • The relief area is a fixed size for each player and is pre-determined based on the clubs the player has selected for play.

Reasons for Change:

The new procedure will mean there will be greater consistency across all relief procedures, making it simpler for players to know where and how to drop a ball:

  • For example, many times today a player is required to drop a ball as near as possible to a certain spot (such as where the previous stroke was made or where a ball was embedded) and questions can arise about whether it was dropped near enough to that spot.
  • The new procedure when dropping with reference to a spot will be to drop a ball anywhere in a relief area measured one or two club-lengths from (but not nearer the hole than) that spot.

The definition of a club-length as the longest club other than a putter will mean that a player cannot choose which club to measure with based on the situation.

For example, players will no longer be able to make a strategic choice about the size of the relief area by choosing a longer club so that the player can reach a location that is farther from the nearest point of relief or other reference point.

Using the longest club for measuring will minimize the inconsistency in the size of a relief area between players (including eliminating the advantage for players who currently can use a long putter for measuring).

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