MODERNIZING GOLF'S RULES
Proposed Change: Elimination of Opposite Side Relief for Red Penalty Areas
March 1, 2017
Proposed Rule: New Rule 17.1c would remove the option to take relief on the opposite side of a red penalty area (the new term that would include what is today called a lateral water hazard):
This means that, when a ball is in a red penalty area, the player would have three options for relief (all for a one-stroke penalty) rather than four options as today.
But a Committee could still adopt a Local Rule allowing opposite side relief on those holes where it believes the other relief options are not viable.
Reasons for Change:
Opposite side relief is a complicated option that many players are not familiar with and that is seldom used.
The primary purpose behind this relief was to give an extra relief option for the unusual cases where neither back-on-a-line relief (Rule 26-1b) nor lateral relief on the side where the ball entered the water hazard (Rule 26-1c(i)) seems viable and the player’s only realistic option is to take relief under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 26-1a).
In practice, opposite side relief is often taken when a player actually has adequate relief under one or both of the other relief options and thus serves only to give an unnecessary extra option that at times can seem too advantageous.
This change would also help avoid any concern that, with the expanded use of red penalty areas, a player might be able to use the opposite side option to drop on the green side of the penalty area, thereby avoiding the challenge of having to play over the penalty area.