Here a Drop, There a Drop, Everywhere a Drop Drop: Part 1 - Dropping | Oregon Golf Association

Here a Drop, There a Drop, Everywhere a Drop Drop: Part 1 - Dropping

This month’s article, as well as articles in coming months, will focus on properly putting a ball back into play by dropping or placing.  Knowing how and where to drop, or when to place or replace, is paramount to successfully navigating the course without incurring additional penalties.   June’s article (Part 2) will focus on Rule 20-2c, sometimes referred to as the “drop, drop, place” Rule and July’s article (Part 3) will focus on placing and replacing and the many issues that surround what appears to be a simple Rule.   However, this month the focus is primarily on dropping.  Many questions surround the act of dropping, such as who must drop, how to drop, and where to drop, among others.  Your task is simply to determine in each scenario below if the dropped ball is properly in play so that the player may make a stroke at the ball without incurring any further penalty - or must the ball be re-dropped?


  1. A player marks the extent of a drop area by placing a tee in the ground.   He drops a ball and it is deflected by the tee. 
  2. In Foursome (alternate shot) competition, Player A hits the ball into a water hazard.  He correctly determines where to drop a ball and drops a new ball for his partner to play the next stroke.
  3. In taking relief from a lateral water hazard, the player stands in the hazard and drops the ball outside the hazard in the required drop area.
  4. A ball is dropped from a point which is above the player’s head.
  5. A player declares his ball unplayable and measures two club-lengths from his ball with his driver.  He leaves the driver on the ground and the dropped ball is deflected by the driver.
  6. When taking relief for an embedded ball, the player drops about two and a half feet (within one club-length) behind the original location of where the ball was embedded.
  7.  In taking relief from a water hazard,  a player goes  back about 10 yards behind the hazard, keeping the spot where the original ball last crossed the margin between the hole and the spot of the drop.  The dropped ball rolls directly towards the hole and comes to rest one club-length closer to the hole from where it first struck the course when dropped.
  8. In taking relief from a cart path, the player determines the nearest point of relief and drops just outside the one club-length requirement.  The ball rolls and comes to rest within one club-length of the nearest point of relief.
  9. After hitting her ball out of bounds, the player is required to proceed under stroke and distance but she is unable to determine the exact location of her previous shot.  She estimates the spot and drops two inches nearer the hole than the estimated spot.
  10. In taking relief from a water hazard, the player drops a ball in a dropping zone established by the Committee.  The dropped ball rolls and comes to rest outside the dropping zone.


  1. Properly in play.  Under Rule 20-2a if a dropped ball touches the equipment of any player before it comes to rest it must be dropped again.  While tees are equipment of the player, the definition of equipment excludes tees when they are used to mark the position of a ball or the extent of a drop area. The tees lose their status of equipment when used in this way and are just moveable obstructions on the course.  Therefore, this ball is properly in play.   
  2. Drop again.  The first sentence of Rule 20-2a states that the player must drop the ball himself.  Decision 29/4 further emphasizes this point in a partner event by stating that the member of a side whose turn it is to play must drop the ball.  Fortunately, Rule 20-6 allows a player who has dropped or placed incorrectly or in a wrong place to lift and proceed properly without penalty provided a stroke has not been made at the ball.
  3. Properly in play.  There is no requirement in any Rule as to where the player must stand when dropping a ball.  
  4. Drop again.  Rule 20-2a requires the player to stand erect, hold the ball at shoulder height and arm’s length and drop the ball.   Dropping from too high or low will result in a penalty of one stroke if the player doesn’t correct the error before making his next stroke.
  5. Drop again.  The ball has touched equipment of a player before coming to rest and must be dropped again.  There is no limit to how many times a ball must be dropped in this circumstance.  If the player failed to drop again and played the deflected ball he would incur the general penalty of loss of hole in Match play or two strokes in Stroke play.  See Rule 20-2a.
  6. Drop again.   Rule 25-2 requires a player taking relief for an embedded ball to drop the ball as near as possible to where it lay embedded.  Certain Rules allow a one or two club-length dropping area but Rule 25-2 is not one of them.  Additionally, he is not allowed to repair the pitch-mark as that would breach Rule 13-2 for improving the area of the intended drop.
  7. Properly in play.  A dropped ball may always roll toward the hole provided it comes to rest in a location not requiring a re-drop under Rule 20-2c.  This will be covered extensively in next month’s article.
  8. Drop again.  This ball has been dropped in a wrong place and the player would incur a penalty if he makes a stroke at the ball.  A dropped ball must first strike the course where the applicable Rule requires. In this case, within one club-length of the nearest point of relief.   See Rule 20-2b.
  9. Drop again.  When the exact location of where a ball must be put into play is unknown it must be estimated.  The estimated spot is now treated as the exact spot.  Under Rule 20-2b the drop must not be nearer the hole than the estimated spot.  Since she dropped nearer the hole than this spot she must correct the error by dropping no closer to the hole than this estimated/exact spot.
  10. Properly in play.  Provided the ball has not come to rest in a location requiring a re-drop under 20-2c, the ball is properly in play.  It may even come to rest nearer the hole than any part of the drop zone. 

Click here for a PDF of the May Rule of the Month Questions

Click here for a PDF of the May Rule of the Month Answers

Presented by OGA Senior Rules Officials Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly

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