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Major Change: Elimination of Opposite Side Relief for Red Penalty AreasGolf's New Rules

Golf's New Rules: Major Changes

New Rule: Rule 17.1d removes the option to take relief on the opposite side of a red penalty area (the new term that includes what was previously called a lateral water hazard):

  • This means that, when a ball is in a red penalty area, the player has three options for relief (all for a one-stroke penalty) rather than the previous four options.
  • But a Committee can 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 was a complicated option that many players were not familiar with and that was seldom used.

The primary purpose behind this relief previously was to give an extra relief option for the unusual cases where neither back-on-the-line relief (Rule 26-1b) nor lateral relief on the side where the ball entered the water hazard (Rule 26-1c(i)) seemed viable and the player’s only realistic option was to take relief under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 26-1a).

In practice, opposite side relief was often taken when a player actually had adequate relief under one or both of the other relief options and thus served only to give an unnecessary extra option that at times could seem too advantageous.

This change also helps 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.