Proposed Change: Substitution of a Ball Always Allowed When Taking Relief March 1, 2017

Modernizing Golf's Rules: Major Proposed Changes

Proposed Rule: Under new Rule 14.3, when taking relief the player would always be allowed  the choice to substitute a ball or to use the original ball, including:

When taking penalty relief as well as when taking free relief (Rules 15-19), and any other time the player is required to drop and play a ball, such as when returning to play from where a previous stroke was made after the stroke is canceled.

Reasons for Change:

The requirement to use the original ball in some relief situations but not others is confusing, hard to remember and leads to unnecessary penalties. Taking a consistent approach that always allows a player taking relief the choice to substitute a ball or use the original ball is much simpler.

There is no need for a different procedure based on whether the player is taking relief with penalty or without penalty:

This would also draw a clearer and more intuitive line between when substitution is allowed in returning a ball to play and when the original ball must be returned to play:

  • Substitution would be allowed only when a player is taking relief under any Rule – that is, when the player is required or allowed to play the next stroke from somewhere other than where the original ball came to rest.
  • Substitution would not be allowed when a ball was lifted or moved and the Rules require it to be replaced on its original spot – in that case, the original ball must still be used (unless it cannot be recovered with reasonable effort and in a few seconds).

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