16. Procedure for Dropping and Playing a Ball from a Relief Area

 

Current Rule:  When taking relief (with or without penalty) under many of the Rules, the player is required to use this dropping procedure:

 

  The player must drop the ball while standing erect and holding the ball at shoulder height and arms length; or else it must be re-dropped (Rule 20-2a).

 

  The ball must first strike the course in a specified place and must not strike any person or equipment before coming to rest; or else it must be re-dropped (Rule 20-2b).

 

  The ball is then to be played from where it comes to rest, except that if it ends up in any of 9 specific locations (such as nearer to the hole or more than 2 club-lengths from where it struck the course), it must be re-dropped (Rule 20-2c). 

 

  If the ball comes to rest in any of those 9 locations when dropped a second time, the player must place the ball where it first struck the course on the second drop. 

 

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:

 

  How a ball may be dropped is simplified, with no limitations on how the ball must be held or how high it must be dropped from; the only requirement would be that the ball be let go from any height above the ground or any growing thing or other natural or artificial object so that it falls through the air, rather than being set down or placed on these things.

 

  The focus of the dropping procedure would be on a specific relief area set by the Rule under which relief is being taken and would be either 20 inches or 80 inches (50.8 or 203.2 centimetres) from a reference point or reference line (and may have certain other limitations). 

 

  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.

 

  At the same time, requiring the player to drop a ball (as opposed to the alternative of placing it) would retain a desired randomness about where the ball will end up:

 

o   This is especially the case when a ball is dropped in more difficult conditions such as thick rough or longer grass.

 

o   The player has no guarantee that the ball will come to rest on a desired spot or in a good lie.

 

  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:

o   When a ball is dropped from shoulder height, it often rolls a considerable distance, so that the need for a re-drop is common. 

 

o   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 avoids giving players more relief than necessary:

 

o   A dropped ball is currently allowed to roll up to 2 club-lengths from where it hits the ground so that, for example, it can end up being played up to 3 club-lengths from the nearest point of relief from a cart path or ground under repair, or up to 4 clublengths from where the original ball went into a lateral water hazard or where it was unplayable.

 

o   Requiring the dropped ball to come to rest in and be played from the same relief area where it was dropped would make it much more likely that the ball will be played from close to where it originally came to rest. 

 

o   The new procedure would save time and prevent players from undermining the purpose of the Rule, which can occur today when players may deliberately try to drop a ball in a position where it will need to be re-dropped and then will be able to be placed after a second unsuccessful drop.

 

  Allowing the player to drop a ball from only a little above the ground would help avoid the unfortunate situation that commonly arises today where a ball dropped from shoulder height in a bunker ends up embedded in the sand.

o   into a lateral water hazard or where it was unplayable.

 

o   Requiring the dropped ball to come to rest in and be played from the same relief area where it was dropped would make it much more likely that the ball will be played from close to where it originally came to rest. 

 

o   The new procedure would save time and prevent players from undermining the purpose of the Rule, which can occur today when players may deliberately try to drop a ball in a position where it will need to be re-dropped and then will be able to be placed after a second unsuccessful drop.

 

  Allowing the player to drop a ball from only a little above the ground would help avoid the unfortunate situation that commonly arises today where a ball dropped from shoulder height in a bunker ends up embedded in the sand.

 

  The new procedure would make it simpler for players to know where and how to drop a ball:

 

o   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. 

 

o   The new procedure when dropping with reference to a spot would be to drop a ball anywhere in a relief area measured 20 inches (50.8 centimetres) from (but not nearer the hole than) that spot.

 

  It would be simpler for players to know when to re-drop a ball:

 

o   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.

 

o   Under the new Rule, the player would only need to know that the ball must be redropped if it comes to rest outside the relief area. 

                

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