Penalised for Dropping from Shoulder Height

Penalised for Dropping from Shoulder Height

Old habits die hard.

Rickie Fowler last Friday incurred a one stroke penalty in WGC-Mexico Championship for dropping from shoulder height, and not correcting the error before making a stroke:

Posted by JT Aimpointcoach on Saturday, 23 February 2019


Fowler’s stroke went out of bounds and therefore he had to play from the spot, where he last played from with a one stroke penalty.

Unfortunately he dropped his substituted ball from shoulder-height and not knee-height. He then played a stroke at his incorrectly dropped ball, thus incurring a penalty. Because the ball was dropped and remained within the relief area of one club-length, the penalty was one stroke.

Had his ball not remained within the one club-length relief area but come to rest outside the area, and he played a stroke at it, his penalty would have increased to two penalty-strokes.

Being unaware of the new Rule of Golf,  unfortunately Rickie Fowler also did not take advantage of the new rule in that you don’t have to play from the exact same spot anymore – you can drop a ball within one club-length of that spot, not nearer the hole.

In fact he could have dropped on the fairway (rather than in the rough) and given himself a better lie, completely in accordance with the Rule.

Ball Must Be Dropped in Right Way

The player must drop a ball in the right way, which means all three of these things:

(1) Player Must Drop Ball. The ball must be dropped only by the player. Neither the player’s caddie nor anyone else may do so.

(2) Ball Must Be Dropped Straight Down from Knee Height Without Touching Player or Equipment. The player must let go of the ball from a location at knee height so that the ball:

  • Falls straight down, without the player throwing, spinning or rolling it or using any other motion that might affect where the ball will come to rest, and
  • Does not touch any part of the player’s body or equipment before it hits the ground.

“Knee height” means the height of the player’s knee when in a standing position.

(3) Ball Must Be Dropped in Relief Area. The ball must be dropped in the relief area. The player may stand either inside or outside the relief area when dropping the ball.

If a ball is dropped in a wrong way in breach of one or more of these three requirements:

  • The player must drop a ball again in the right way, and there is no limit to the number of times the player must do so.
  • A ball dropped in the wrong way does not count as one of the two drops required before a ball must be placed under Rule 14.3c(2).

If the player does not drop again and instead makes a stroke at the ball from where it came to rest after being dropped in a wrong way:

  • If the ball was played from the relief area, the player gets one penalty stroke (but has not played from a wrong place under Rule 14.7a).
  • But if the ball was played from outside the relief area, or after it was placed when required to be dropped (no matter where it was played from), the player gets the general penalty.

Get to know the Rules of Golf, they can work in your favour.

Enjoy your Golf,


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