We all know it comes down to knee height, but there are plenty of other things to consider if you want to relieve yourself properly. Our Rules of Golf Guru walks you through

You must drop the ball at knee height. For those of us who used to let it go over the shoulder, or even over the shoulder if you go back far enough, getting used to the new ways has been quite a change in the revisions Rules of Golf in 2019.

But making sure it’s knee-high is only part of the picture when it comes to dropping a ball and you need to make sure you do it right.

Everything is covered by Rule 14.3 – and so here is everything you could want to know about how to drop a ball correctly…

How to Drop a Golf Ball: What You Need to Know

Only you can drop the ball

Don’t let another player do it, or a caddy if you have one. If you drop a ball, Rule 14.3b says only the player may do so, although in foursomes (Rule 22.2) or four balls (Rule 23.5a) each partner can act for the other.

Be sure to drop the ball down

Don’t spin it, throw it, roll it, or do anything else that might impact where the ball comes to rest. When dropped, it cannot hit you or your gear until it hits the ground.

What is the height of the knees?

It seems obvious, right? But Rule 14.3b makes an important distinction. It means the “height of the player’s knee when in a standing position”. What difference does it make? You don’t need to be standing when the ball is released. You can lie on your back, if you wish, to drop the ball – as long as it is at knee height.

Here is a complicated question: must the ball always fall this distance from the ground? What if you fell on a steep slope?

There is a interpretation of Rule 14.3b(2) it answers that. He says that although the ball has to fall through the air to be released, it “won’t always fall within the distance of the player’s knee to the ground”.

If this sounds mind-blowing, remember to start from knee height and you can never go wrong.

What if I dropped it by mistake?

Say, for example, you didn’t drop it from knee height. Then you dropped the ball the “wrong way” and you have to correct it. You’ll hear later how many times you can drop before you can then place a ball, but that doesn’t apply here. If you have dropped a ball the wrong way, Rule 14.3b(3) states that there is “no limit” to the number of times you must repeat it until it is done correctly. If you misunderstand this piece, don’t correct it, and hit the ball anyway, you’re going to receive penalties. We’ll come back to that in a minute.

The ball must be dropped and come to rest in a relief area

Although you don’t have to, that’s why it’s recommended to use tees to measure your relief zone when you go for a drop. When a ball is dropped, and it is dropped in the correct manner, it must come to rest in the relief area.

What if he comes to rest outside the relief zone?

Good question. Release the ball again, making sure you do it the right way once more.

What if he still doesn’t stay in the rescue zone?

If you’ve dropped it the right way twice and it still doesn’t behave, you’re going to place the ball. You place it where the ball you dropped for the second time first hit the ground. If it does not stay there, try again a second time. If after that second time the ball still doesn’t stay put, then you need to find the nearest spot where it will – not nearer the hole, of course. And yes, there is an interpretation of rule 14.3c(2) who says it could be outside the clearing area. Still with me?

What happens if the ball hits me, or my equipment, after it hits the ground?

You’ll remember earlier we said that when you drop a ball, it can’t hit you or your gear until it hits the ground. This does not apply if it bounces off you or your bag, or any other outside influence, after hitting solid ground. If the ball remains in the relief area, your task is complete and you must play the ball as it lies. If it goes outside the clearing area, you revert to the procedures we have already outlined above.

What if I don’t follow these procedures and still have a stroke?

You will add shots on goal to your score. But the number of hits you receive depends on whether the ball was played from the relief area or not.

If you make a stroke after dropping a ball the wrong way, you incur a penalty stroke if the stroke was made from the relief area.

If it was played from outside the relief area, or if you placed it when you were supposed to drop it, you will suffer the general penalty. It’s two strokes or the loss of the hole in match play.

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