Before dropping ball


This piece on dropping a ball is dedicated to my July Intake Beginners Class comprising Kusala Kumsinda, George, Arthur and Catrin.

I guess that most golfers know how to drop a ball under the Rules. In order to get it right, there are some questions that you should think about before you drop a ball;

  • Should you mark the outside extent of where you are permitted to drop your ball?

While the Rules do not require you to mark the permitted area (e.g. within two club-lengths, not nearer the hole, for one of the options for taking relief under penalty of one stroke for a ball that is deemed unplayable; or within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, not nearer the hole, when taking relief without penalty from an immovable obstruction), it is wise to do so if you want to take advantage of the full area of relief.


If you do not and your ball first strikes the course outside of the permitted area, you will be playing from a wrong place if you then make a stroke at your ball. Rule 20-2b.

  • May you remove loose impediments from the area before dropping a ball?

You are permitted to move any loose impediments, such as leaves, twigs, stones, droppings etc., but remember that loose soil and sand are not loose impediments, except on the putting green. It would be wrong to use a brushing motion to clear away leaves from the dropping area, as that would inevitably mean moving loose soil at the same time. So, the loose impediments should be picked off in this situation. Rule 23-1.

  • May you improve the area of intended drop in any other way?

Apart from moving loose impediments you may not improve, or allow to be improved, the area in which a ball is to be dropped. This includes; pressing a club on the ground; moving, bending or breaking anything growing or fixed; creating or eliminating irregularities of surface; removing or pressing down sand, loose soil, replaced divots or other cut turf placed in position; or removing dew, frost or water. Rule 13-2.

  • May you clean the ball before dropping it?

Yes, the ball may be cleaned. Rule 21.

  • May you ask a fellow competitor, opponent or outside agency what options you have before making your drop?

Yes, information on the Rules is not advice. What is considered advice is asking options for your next stroke.

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