Major Change: Where a Dropped Ball Must Come to RestGolf'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 ball must be dropped in and come to rest in the relief area; and there is no re-drop requirement if the dropped ball accidentally hits a person or object after hitting the ground but before coming to rest in the relief area.
  • If the dropped ball comes to rest outside the relief area, it is dropped a second time; if it comes to rest outside the relief area after being dropped a second time it is placed where it first touched the ground.
  • If the placed ball does not come to rest on that spot after two attempts, the player will then place the ball on the nearest spot (not nearer the hole) where it will come to rest.


Reasons for Change:

The new procedure avoids giving players more relief than necessary:

  • A dropped ball was previously allowed to roll up to two club-lengths from where it hit the ground – so that, for example, it could have ended up being played up to three club-lengths from the nearest point of relief from a cart path or ground under repair, or up to four club-lengths from where the original ball went into a lateral water hazard or where it was unplayable.
  • Requiring the dropped ball to come to rest in and be played from the same relief area where it was dropped makes it much more likely that the ball will be played from close to where it originally came to rest.


The new procedure means 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 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 arose 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.


It is simpler for players to know when to re-drop a ball:

  • A player previously needed to know the nine re-dropping scenarios in Rule 20-2c; these were difficult to understand and apply and this was a widely misunderstood Rule.
  • Under the new Rule, the player only needs to know that the ball must be re-dropped if it comes to rest outside the relief area.