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Changes to dropping a golf ball

As golfers we have been exposed via social media and the press to the main “proposed” changes to the rules of golf, one which includes a possible change to the dropping a golf ball.

It is quite ironic having been associated with the industry for over 35 years to see the numerous changes so this recent R&A and USGA proposal made me quite nostalgic. Apparently according to the publications this is the first such major re-assessment since 1984. The gradual necessity to capture new golfers whilst retaining our existing players has been based around making the game less time- consuming, affordable and easier to learn with fewer constraints.

This suggested change to dropping a golf ball certainly bought back memories of the thin rain soaked parker jacket with the attached hood. I sounded like a bag of crisps every time I made a swing and moved down the fairway. I am sure this constant “crackle” made me immune to the numerous external distractions I was to face on Tour. There were certainly no Gore-Tex jackets for sure!

So, for those of us who are relatively new to the game this is how we used to take a penalty or free drop! It does look as if I am performing the taboo static stretch. I certainly remember the times the ball ended up in my hood as a youngster! I am actually unsure if I could raise my arm to the required position to make the drop these days. It was quite a lottery where the ball finished with the added skills of not toppling backwards into the water hazard so balance was at a premium. The only requirement was to stand facing the hole when making the “over the shoulder toss drop”.

Old dropping of the golf ball

This rule was amended to the current ruling 1984 where the ball has to be dropped at shoulder height with a straight arm away from the body, as long as the ball lands within the specified dropping zone marked by your tee pegs then the direction we face is of no concern. The skill and judgement of the slope of the ground and the probability of how the ball reacts when it strikes the ground is naturally a great deal of good fortune. The only absolute is taking a free drop from casual water in a bunker knowing you will be playing from a plugged lie or the “poached egg”

How to drop a golf ball

This image here has been moulded on the latest suggestions released early March 2017 so until totally finalised I am unable to comment on the exact nature but I can imagine there will be fewer plugged balls and a new art to “selecting” the favourable ground conditions will potentially be easier.


Sarah Bennett

Interpreted suggested golf ball drop

Like everything there is evolution and if the suggestions are passed and succeed to remove the image of the numerous “rules and regulations” in golf, producing  a modernised approach then this can only help our wonderful sport of golf.

I will certainly be interested to hear the outcome from the combined R&A and USGA rules committee in due course.