MODERNIZING GOLF'S RULES
Proposed Change: Substitution of a Ball Always Allowed When Taking Relief
March 1, 2017
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).