Major Change: Measuring the Size of the Relief Area Where a Ball Must be Dropped and PlayedGolf's New Rules


Golf's New Rules: Major Changes

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

  • The focus of the dropping procedure is on a specific “relief area” set by the Rule under which relief is being taken and is 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 means that there is greater consistency across all relief procedures, making it simpler for players to know where and how to drop a ball:

  • For example, many times under the previous Rules, a player was 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 often came up about whether it had been dropped near enough to that spot.
  • The new procedure when dropping with reference to a spot is 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 means that a player cannot choose which club to measure with based on the situation.

For example, players are 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 minimizes the inconsistency in the size of a relief area between players (including eliminating the advantage for players who previously could have used a long putter for measuring).