Where Should I Drop?

I can’t tell you the number of times I have been asked the question “Where can I drop it?” Sometimes, it’s not that easy to figure out and can be downright frustrating!

Dropping the ball is covered under the second section of Rule 20. One of the key phrases in sub-section “B” is “A ball when dropped must first strike a part of the course where the applicable Rule requires it to be dropped.”

In other words, it depends which Rule you are operating under to figure out where you can drop it.

First, determine the reference point for the applicable Rule. It may be:

  • Where the ball currently lies (unplayable ball), or
  • From where you last played (first option of water hazard or unplayable ball Rules, ball lost or out of bounds), or
  • The nearest point of relief (free relief from cart paths, casual water and wrong putting greens), or
  • Where the ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard (second and third options of the water hazard Rule), or
  • Where the ball last crossed the outermost limits of the condition (ball lost in obstruction or casual water)

Please note that when that reference point is off the ground, for the purpose of determining the reference point for dropping, ignore vertical distant and use the point directly below that spot. For instance a ball in a tree, use the reference point directly below the spot where the ball lay ignoring vertical distance.

Next, we need to figure out where to drop the ball using that reference point. Generally, it is no nearer the hole, using the reference point or a line between the hole extending beyond the reference point, depending on the given Rule. It may be:

  • As near as possible (embedded ball, ball lost or out of bounds from through the green or from a hazard, stroke cancelled and replayed), or
  • On a line (second option of the water hazard or unplayable ball Rules), or
  • Within one club-length (cart path or casual water Rules), or
  • Within two club-lengths (lateral water hazard or unplayable ball Rules)

At times, the spot on which to drop may need to be estimated or it may need to be determined using club-lengths. The Rules do not require you to actually lay a club down on the ground to determine the requisite one or two club-lengths. That being said, you can just eyeball it and drop it. If it is going to be close, you can go ahead and use a club to measure.

Don’t forget, for the next year and a half, stand erect holding the ball at shoulder height and arm’s length and let go of the ball. You will execute a perfect drop in the right spot!

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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