Major Change: Replacing Ball When Original Spot is Not KnownGolf's New Rules
New Rule: Under Rule 14.2c:
- The ball is always placed on a spot rather than dropped.
- If the exact original spot is not known, the player is required to replace the ball on its estimated spot (including on, under or against any attached natural objects that the ball had been at rest on, under or against).
Reasons for Change:
A fundamental principle of golf is to play the ball as it lies; so this should mean that, when a ball at rest is moved, it should be returned to and played from its original spot or as close to that original spot as possible.
When a player marks the ball’s spot with a ball-marker before lifting the ball, the original spot is known and the ball is replaced on the marked spot.
But when a ball is accidentally moved, the player may not know the exact original spot:
- Previously, if the ball had been at rest anywhere off the putting green, the player had to drop the ball as near as possible to its estimated spot and play the ball from where it came to rest (unless it rolls to where it must be re-dropped under Rule 20-2c).
- This meant that the ball was often not played from the estimated spot, as the dropped ball was allowed to roll as much as two-club lengths away from that spot.
- It also meant that the ball may have ended up being played from a better or worse lie than the original lie (such as when the original spot had been in the rough and the dropped ball came to rest in the fairway, or vice versa; or when the ball had been at rest in deep grass and the dropped ball came to rest on top of the grass).
Requiring the player to replace the ball on the estimated spot (including being required to replace the ball on, under or against any fixed or growing things it had been at rest on, under or against) helps to make sure the ball is played from as close as possible to its original spot and from the same or almost the same lie.
Replacing the ball on its estimated spot also applies when the player does not know the exact original spot of a ball that was lifted or moved on the putting green, and so the same procedure applies throughout the course.