Proposed Change: New Procedure for Dropping a Ball March 1, 2017

Modernizing Golf's Rules: Major Proposed Changes

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

How a ball may be dropped is simplified, with no limitations on how the ball must be held or how high it must be dropped from; the only requirement would be that the ball be let go from any height above the ground or any growing thing or other natural or artificial object so that it falls through the air, rather than being set down or placed on these things.

Reasons for Change:

The new procedure moves away from the current mechanical approach on how to drop a ball, with its several procedural requirements; the focus would appropriately be on where the ball is dropped and played from, not the mechanics of how it gets there.

At the same time, requiring the player to drop a ball (as opposed to the alternative of placing it) would retain a desired randomness about where the ball will end up:

  • This is especially the case when a ball is dropped in more difficult conditions such as thick rough or longer grass.
  • The player has no guarantee that the ball will come to rest on a desired spot or in a good lie.

Relaxing the restrictions on how to drop a ball would help pace of play by making it easier for a player to take relief with only a single drop:

  • When a ball is dropped from shoulder height, it often rolls a considerable distance, so that the need for a re-drop is common.
  • In contrast, when a ball is dropped from just above the ground, it will usually come to rest very close to where it hits the ground and should stay in the relief area.

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