Drop Areas, Ball Drops and Drop Zones

  • What are they, and
  • What are they used for, and
  • What Rules apply to them

First of all, a drop area, a ball drop and a drop zone are all the same thing. Their most common application is when used in conjunction with the Water Hazard Rule as an additional option under penalty of one stroke.

Though not in the general text of the Rules of Golf, information on dropping zones (first placed in the Rule Book in 1984 as “Dropping Zones”) is located in Appendix I of the Rule Book.

What are they: A drop zone is an area designated by the Committee in which a player may or must drop a ball when the Committee in charge of the course “considers that it is not feasible or practicable” for a player to proceed under a Rule.

What are they used for: Generally, drop zones are used as an additional option available to a player under a Rule. However, the Committee may in some case make them mandatory in proceeding under a Rule.

What Rules apply to them: Drop zones may be used in conjunction with the Immovable Obstruction Rules (24-2b or 24-3, including the Local Rule for temporary immovable obstructions), the Abnormal Ground Conditions Rules (25-1b or 25-1c), the Wrong Putting Green Rule (25-3), the Water Hazard Rule (26-1) or the Unplayable Ball Rule (28). They may involve a penalty or no penalty depending on the Rule involved.

Here are a few more provisions that apply to drop zones:

  • The player does not have to stand within the drop zone when using the drop zone
  • The dropped ball must first strike a part of the course within the drop zone
  • If the dropping zone is defined by a line, the line itself is within the drop zone
  • The dropped ball does not have to come to rest within the drop zone
  • The dropped ball may roll nearer the hole, as long as it does not roll more than two club-lengths from where it struck the drop zone

For example, I hit my ball into a water hazard and under penalty of one stroke proceed to the drop zone painted on the forward tee. I stand outside of the drop zone, drop the ball which hits the white line and bounces forward a club-length and a half nearer the hole. The ball has been properly put into play.

Remember, use the index or the table of contents to find the correct Rule that applies to the situation and follow the Rules of Golf to help yourself to enjoy the game of golf.

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