Major Change: Relief for An Embedded Ball March 12, 2018

Golf's New Rules: Major Changes

2019 Rule: The current default position in the Rules will be reversed:

  • Rule 16.3 will allow relief for a ball embedded anywhere in the “general area” (that is, the area currently known as “through the green”), except when embedded in sand.
  • But a Committee may adopt a Local Rule restricting relief to a ball embedded in those parts of the general area cut to fairway height or less.
  • In taking relief, the player will drop the original ball or a substituted ball within one club-length of (but not nearer the hole than) the spot right behind where the ball was embedded.

Reasons for Change:

This is an appropriate exception to the principle of playing the ball as it lies because having to play a ball that is stuck in soft or wet ground (whether in the fairway or the rough) should not be considered part of the normal challenge of playing a course.

Allowing relief throughout the general area is consistent with other relief Rules, which do not make distinctions based on the height of the grass in the general area.

In many countries the Local Rule is sufficiently well established that golfers assume that the Rules always allow relief anywhere in the general area.

Reversing the default position will help avoid the confusion that sometimes exists today when clubs or players do not realize that such relief is not allowed unless a Local Rule has been adopted.

More from the USGA