New Rule: The previous default position in the Rules is reversed:
- Rule 16.3 allows relief for a ball embedded anywhere in the “general area” (that is, the area previously known as “through the green”), except when embedded in sand.
- But a Committee may adopt a Local Rule restricting relief to a ball embedded in those parts of the general area cut to fairway height or less.
- In taking relief, the player drops the original ball or a substituted ball within one club-length of (but not nearer the hole than) the spot right behind where the ball was embedded.
Reasons for Change:
This is an appropriate exception to the principle of playing the ball as it lies because having to play a ball that is stuck in soft or wet ground (whether in the fairway or the rough) should not be considered part of the normal challenge of playing a course.
Allowing relief throughout the general area is consistent with other relief Rules, which do not make distinctions based on the height of the grass in the general area.
In many countries, the Local Rule was sufficiently well established that golfers assumed the Rules had always allowed relief anywhere in the general area.
Reversing the default position helps avoid the confusion that sometimes existed previously when clubs or players did not realize that such relief was not allowed unless a Local Rule had been adopted.