Under the new rules of golf that became effective on Jan. 1 is one that allows players to drop the ball from knee height instead of shoulder height whenever a drop is specified for relief.
It was not warmly received by some players on the PGA Tour this weekend at the first event of 2019, the Sentry Tournament of Champions on Maui in Hawaii.
Bryson DeChambeau says the new drop rule intrigues him the most of all the changes. And his thoughts were not complimentary.
I think the knee drop one (intrigues me most). That you have to drop it from knee height is a bit absurd, unfortunately. I think that you should be able to go from knee height to shoulder height. There should be no issue with that, whatever you want to do, honestly.
Rory McIlroy has already sounded off about it as well.
“(With dropping from knee height), we’re saying that Brian Harman has got a big advantage, he can basically place it. Where you got someone like Tony Finau who is dropping it probably from like waist high for me. But I think that they’re trying to simplify the rules which I think is a great thing for the game,” McIlroy said. “I’m happy that they made the decision to try and simplify them and just try to make everything a little bit easier to understand.”
Overall, the Northern Irishman seems to like what the U.S. Golf Association and the R&A have done with implementing these changes. But those comments about the knee-height drop and how it relates to player height were a bit spicy, no? Harman certainly might think so.
There is another important factor when taking a drop for relief: The ball must remain within the designated relief area, either one club-length or two club-lengths, depending on the type of relief.
For example: If a player is allowed two club-lengths relief from a penalty area, no nearer the hole, the ball must remain within that two-club-length area. If a ball bounces or rolls and comes to rest outside that original relief area, the player must re-drop within the designated area. If it again comes to rest outside that area, the player must place it on the spot where it struck the ground in the relief area on the second drop.
For comparison, in some scenarios under the old rules a player could take a drop within two club-lengths of a point of relief, and if the ball rolled another two club-lengths no nearer the hole, it was in play. That could result in a total of almost four club-lengths before the ball came to rest in play.
The simple takeaway: The ball must be played from within the original drop area, and if it rolls outside that area after two drops, it must be placed by hand. This eliminates nine re-dropping scenarios in the old rules, and by dropping from knee-height, it’s more likely the ball will stay within the prescribed area.