The days of golfers using their extremely long putters to gain an advantage when taking relief are over.
Here’s the rule change that went into effect on January 1, 2019, according to the USGA
- A club-length will be defined as the length of the longest club in the player’s bag, except that this cannot be his or her putter.
- The relief area for dropping a ball will be a fixed size of either one or two club-lengths depending on which relief Rule is being used.
- The relief area is a fixed size for each player and is pre-determined based on the clubs the player has selected for play.
Reasons for Change
- The definition of a club-length as the longest club other than a putter will mean that a player cannot choose which club to measure with based on the situation. For example, players will no longer be able to make a strategic choice about the size of the relief area by choosing a longer club so that the player can reach a location that is farther from the nearest point of relief or other reference points.
- Using the longest club for measuring will minimize the inconsistency in the size of a relief area between players (including eliminating the advantage for players who currently can use a long putter for measuring).