Rule Change For Substituting Ball While Taking Relief

Ryan Rustand

Ryan Rustand

SwingU Instructor

One of the updated Rules from last year allows you to change out your ball, damaged or not, when taking a drop. 

Under Rule 14.3, when taking relief, the player will always be allowed the choice to substitute a ball or to use the original ball, including when taking penalty relief as well as when taking free relief (Rules 15-19).

Reasons for Change

The requirement to use the original ball in some relief situations but not others is confusing, hard to remember and leads 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 will also draw 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 will be 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 will not be 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).

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