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Major Change: Substitution of a Ball Always Allowed When Taking ReliefGolf's New Rules

Golf's New Rules: Major Changes

New Rule: Under Rule 14.3, when taking relief, the player is always allowed the choice to substitute a ball or to use the original ball, including when taking penalty relief and when taking free relief (Rules 15-19).

Reasons for Change:

The previous requirement to use the original ball in some relief situations but not others was confusing, hard to remember and lead 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 also draws 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 is 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 is not 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).