MODERNIZING GOLF'S RULES
Proposed Change: Where a Dropped Ball Must Come to Rest
March 1, 2017
Proposed Rule: Players would continue to drop a ball when taking relief, but the dropping procedure would be changed in several ways as detailed in Rule 14.3.
The ball would need only to be dropped in and come to rest in the relief area; and there would be no re-drop requirement if the dropped ball accidentally hits a person or object before coming to rest in the relief area.
If the dropped ball comes to rest outside the relief area, it would be dropped again; there would be no set number of times for re-dropping, as the player would need to make all reasonable efforts to drop it in a way and place so it stays in the relief area.
In the unusual case where the ball will not come to rest in the relief area no matter how or where dropped (such as a relief area on a steep slope with short grass), the player would then place the ball anywhere in the relief area.
If the placed ball will not come to rest on that spot after two attempts, the player would then place the ball on the nearest spot (not nearer the hole) where it will come to rest.
Reasons for Change:
The new procedure moves away from the current mechanical approach on how to drop a ball, with its several procedural requirements; the focus would appropriately be on where the ball is dropped and played from, not the mechanics of how it gets there.
Relaxing the restrictions on how to drop a ball would help pace of play by making it easier for a player to take relief with only a single drop:
- When a ball is dropped from shoulder height, it often rolls a considerable distance, so that the need for a re-drop is common.
- In contrast, when a ball is dropped from just above the ground, it will usually come to rest very close to where it hits the ground and should stay in the relief area.
The new procedure would make it simpler for players to know where and how to drop a ball:
- For example, many times today a player is required to drop a ball as near as possible to a certain spot (such as where the previous stroke was made or where a ball was embedded) and questions can arise about whether it was dropped near enough to that spot.
- The new procedure when dropping with reference to a spot would be to drop a ball anywhere in a relief area measured 20 inches from (but not nearer the hole than) that spot.
It would be simpler for players to know when to re-drop a ball:
- A player currently needs to know the 9 re-dropping scenarios in Rule 20-2c; these are difficult to understand and apply and this is a widely misunderstood Rule.
- Under the new Rule, the player would only need to know that the ball must be re- dropped if it comes to rest outside the relief area.