2019 Rules Change: New Procedure For Dropping Your Ball

Josh Kelley

Josh Kelley

SwingU Instructor

Golfers have been dropping the ball from shoulder height with their arm extended straight out for so long that it has become second nature. However, that will all change effective January 2019.

According to the USGA, players will continue to drop a ball when taking relief, but the dropping procedure will be changed in several ways as detailed in Rule 14-3. How a ball may be dropped is simplified; the only requirement will be that the ball be let go from knee height so that it falls through the air and does not touch any part of the player’s body or equipment before it hits the ground.

Reasons for Change

  • The new procedure lowers the height from which the ball is dropped to increase the chance that it stays within the relief area.
  • Requiring the player to drop a ball (as opposed to placing it) will retain a desired randomness about where the ball will end up:
  • The player has no guarantee that the ball will come to rest on a desired spot or in a good lie.
  • This is especially the case when a ball is dropped in more difficult conditions such as thick rough or longer grass.

Allowing the player to drop a ball from knee height will help to limit the extent to which a ball will embed in sand in a bunker.

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