Procedures for Ball: Marking, Lifting and Cleaning; Replacing on Spot; Dropping in Relief Area; Playing from Wrong Place
Purpose of Rule: Rule 14 covers when and how the player may mark the spot of a ball at rest and lift and clean the ball and how to put a ball back into play so that the ball is played from the right place.
When a lifted or moved ball is to be replaced, the same ball must be set down on its original spot.
When taking free relief or penalty relief, a substituted ball or the original ball must be dropped in a particular relief area.
A mistake in using these procedures may be corrected without penalty before the ball is played, but the player gets a penalty if they play the ball from the wrong place.
Procedures for Ball: Marking, Lifting and Cleaning; Replacing on Spot; Dropping in Relief Area; Playing from Wrong Place
Marking, Lifting and Cleaning Ball
Marking Ball Correctly
Rule 14.1a uses "right behind" and "right next to" to ensure the spot of a lifted ball is marked with sufficient accuracy for the player to replace it in the right spot.A ball may be marked in any position around the ball so long as it is marked right next to it, and this includes placing a ball-marker in front of or to the side of the ball.
Player Must Be Careful When Lifted Ball May Not Be Cleaned
When a player is applying any of the four Rules mentioned in Rule 14.1c where cleaning is not allowed, there are acts that the player should avoid because, despite there being no intention to clean the ball, the act itself may result in the ball being cleaned.For example, if a player lifts their ball that has grass or other debris sticking to it and throws it to their caddie who catches it with a towel, it is likely that some of the grass or other debris will be removed, meaning the ball has been cleaned. Similarly, if the player places that ball in their pocket or drops it onto the ground, these acts could result in some of the grass or other debris being removed from that ball, meaning that it has been cleaned.However, if the player takes these actions after lifting a ball that was known to be clean before it was lifted, the player does not get a penalty because the ball was not cleaned.
When a Moved Ball May Be Cleaned
When a moved ball has been lifted because a Rule requires it to be replaced, the ball may always be cleaned, except in the four situations described in Rule 14.1c.For example, if a player’s ball has come to rest against a movable obstruction and the ball moves when the movable obstruction is removed, the player is required to replace the ball on the original spot (Rule 15.2a(1)) and may clean the ball before doing so. (New)
Replacing Ball on Spot
Player Drops Ball When Ball Is to Be Replaced
When a player drops a ball when the Rules require them to replace the ball, the ball has been replaced in a wrong way. If the player replaces the ball in a wrong way, but on the required spot (this also includes if the player drops the ball and it comes to rest on the required spot), they get one penalty stroke if the ball is played without correcting the mistake under Rule 14.5 (Correcting Mistake Made in Substituting, Replacing, Dropping or Placing Ball).But if the player has dropped a ball and that ball comes to rest somewhere other than on the required spot, they get the general penalty for playing from a wrong place if the ball is played without correcting the mistake.For example, in stroke play, a player moves their ball during search and is required to replace the ball without penalty. Instead of replacing the ball on the original or the estimated spot, the player drops the ball on that spot, the ball bounces and comes to rest on another spot, and they play the ball from there. The player has replaced the ball in a wrong way and has also played from a wrong place. The player gets only two penalty strokes as there has been no intervening event (see Rule 1.3c(4)).
Ball May Be Replaced in Almost Any Orientation
When replacing a lifted ball on a spot, the Rules are concerned about only the location. The ball may be aligned in any way when being replaced (such as by lining up a trademark) so long as the ball's vertical distance to the ground remains the same.For example, when using a Rule that does not allow cleaning, the player lifts their ball and there is a piece of mud sticking to it. The ball may be aligned in any way when replacing it on the original spot (such as by rotating the interfering mud towards the hole).However, the player is not allowed to replace the ball in an alignment so the ball rests on the mud unless that was its position before it was lifted. The "spot" of the ball includes its vertical location relative to the ground.
Removal of Loose Impediment from Spot Where Ball to Be Replaced
Exception 1 to Rule 15.1a makes clear that, before replacing a ball, the player must not remove a loose impediment that, if moved when the ball is at rest, is likely to cause the ball to move. But there are situations where a loose impediment may move either when the ball is being lifted or before it is replaced, and the player is not required to put the loose impediment back before or after replacing the ball.For example:
A player marks and lifts their ball in the general area after being requested to do so as it interferes with another player's play. As a result of lifting the ball, a loose twig lying against the ball is moved. The player is not required to put the twig back when the ball is replaced.
A player marks and lifts their ball in a bunker to see if it is cut. While the ball is lifted, a leaf that had been just behind the ball-marker is moved away by the wind. The player is not required to put the leaf back when the ball is replaced.
Ball Must Not Be Pushed into Ground When Replacing It
When replacing a ball, it must be replaced on its original spot. The original spot includes the same vertical position the ball was in before being lifted or moved. If the ball will not remain at rest when attempting to replace it, the player must follow the procedure in Rule 14.2e (What to Do If Ball Does Not Stay on Original Spot) rather than push the ball into the ground.For example, a player’s ball comes to rest against a movable obstruction on the slope of a bunker. If the ball moves when removing the obstruction, the ball must be replaced. If the ball will not stay at rest on the original spot, the player must replace the ball on the nearest spot in the bunker where the ball will remain at rest that is not nearer to the hole. If instead, the player pushes the ball into the sand, the player has replaced the ball in a wrong place (Rule 14.7) and has altered their lie (Rule 14.2d) and must correct the mistake by lifting the ball (Rule 14.5b(2)), re-creating the original lie and replacing the ball under Rules 14.2c and 14.2e. (New)
Altered Lie Might Be “Nearest Spot with Lie Most Similar”
If a player's lie is altered when their ball is lifted or moved and must be replaced, the altered lie might be the nearest spot with a lie most similar to the player's original lie, and the player may be required to play the ball from the altered lie.For example, a player's ball comes to rest in a divot hole in the fairway. Thinking it is their ball, another player plays the ball, making the divot hole a little deeper. If there is no other similar divot hole within one club-length, the nearest spot with the lie most similar to the original lie would be a spot in the deepened divot hole.
Player Must Take Penalty Relief When Spot Where Ball Will Remain at Rest Is Nearer Hole
When following Rule 14.2e, there is a possibility that the only spot in the same area of the course where the ball will stay at rest when placed is nearer the hole. In such circumstances, the player must take penalty relief under an allowed Rule.The player is not allowed to push the ball into the ground to ensure it stays on a spot (see Clarification 14.2c/3).For example, a player's ball comes to rest on the downslope of a bunker against a rake and, in removing the rake, the ball moves. The player attempts to replace the ball as required, but it does not stay. They then follow the procedure of Rule 14.2e with no success and find that there are no other spots to try in that bunker that are not nearer the hole.In this case, the player must take unplayable ball relief either by using stroke and distance for one penalty stroke (Rule 19.2a) or back-on-the-line relief outside the bunker for two penalty strokes (Rule 19.3b).
Dropping Ball in Relief Area
Ball Dropped from Knee Height in Uneven Area
Rule 14.3b(2) and the definition of “drop” require a player to drop a ball from a location at the player’s knee height when in a standing position.When there is uneven ground in and around the location where the player will drop the ball, the distance the ball will fall to the ground from knee height depends on where the player is standing when dropping the ball.Provided the ball falls a distance that corresponds with knee height from a position where the player could have stood to drop the ball on the spot, the ball has been dropped from knee height.But the ball must always fall through the air to be dropped and must not be placed.
DIAGRAM 14.3b(2)/1 - BALL DROPPED FROM KNEE-HEIGHT IN UNEVEN AREA
In both situations the player is dropping at “knee height” as required by Rule 14.3b(2) even though the player appears to be dropping from a location above or below knee height.
This can occur when the player is taking relief in a location where the ground is uneven, and they could have dropped the ball from that height if they were standing in a different location, as is shown by their outline.
General Penalty Applies Under Rule 14.7a
In relation to the final bullet in Rule 14.3b(4), if a player gets the general penalty for making a stroke without correcting their mistake, the general penalty applies under Rule 14.7a for having played from a wrong place.For example, when taking back-on-the-line relief, a player drops their ball almost one club-length to the side of the line. The ball is in a wrong place irrespective of where it comes to rest, even if it comes to rest on the line. The ball must be dropped again to avoid penalty under Rule 14.7a.In stroke play, if the player makes a stroke from the wrong place, the player would need to correct this mistake if playing from a wrong place was a serious breach. (Added April 2023)
Relief Area Includes Everything in Relief Area
A player's relief area includes tall grass, bushes or other growing things in it. If a player's dropped ball comes to rest in a bad lie in the relief area, it has still come to rest in the relief area.For example, a player drops their ball in the right way and it stays in a bush in the relief area. The bush is part of the relief area and, therefore, the ball is in play and the player is not allowed to drop again under Rule 14.3c.
Ball May Be Dropped in No Play Zone
In dropping a ball under a relief Rule, the player may drop a ball in a no play zone so long as that no play zone is part of the relief area. However, the player must then take relief under the Rule that applies.For example, a player may take relief from a penalty area and drop a ball in a no play zone in an abnormal course condition. But after the dropped ball comes to rest in the relief area required by Rule 17 (Penalty Area Relief), the player must take relief under Rule 16.1f.
What to Do When Dropped Ball Moves After Coming to Rest Against a Player’s Foot or Equipment
A player drops a ball in the right way, but the ball is accidentally stopped by the player's foot or equipment (such as a tee that is marking the relief area) and comes to rest in the relief area. There is no penalty, the player has completed taking relief and must play the ball as it lies.If the ball then moves when the player moves their foot or the equipment, the player must replace the ball as required by Rule 9.4 but gets no penalty as the ball's movement was a result of reasonable actions taken in taking relief under a Rule (see Exception 4 to Rule 9.4 - Accidental Movement Anywhere Except on Putting Green While Applying Rule).
Where to Place Ball Dropped in Right Way Twice in Relief Area with a Bush in It
If a player must complete the dropping procedure by placing a ball using Rules 14.2b(2) and 14.2e, this might result in the player attempting to place a ball other than on the surface of the ground because a player’s relief area includes grass, bushes or other growing things in it (see Clarification 14.3c/1).For example, if the player is dropping into a bush in the relief area, and with both drops the ball comes to rest outside the relief area, Rule 14.3c(2) provides that they must place a ball on the spot it first touched the ground after the second drop. If the ball first struck the bush when dropped for the second time, the "ground" includes the bush, and the player must attempt to place the ball where it first struck the bush. But if the placed ball does not stay on that spot after two attempts, the player must place the ball on the nearest spot not nearer the hole where the ball will stay at rest, subject to the limits in Rule 14.2e.
When Player’s Ball Is Back in Play After Original Ball Was Out of Play
Placed Ball Is Not in Play Unless There Was Intent to Put It in Play
When a ball is placed or replaced on the ground, it needs to be determined whether it was put down with the intent of putting it in play.For example, the player marks the ball on the putting green by placing a coin right behind the ball, lifts the ball and gives it to their caddie to have it cleaned. The caddie then places the ball right behind or right next to the coin (not on the ball's original spot) to help the player read the line of play from the other side of the hole. The ball is not in play as the caddie did not place the ball with the intention of putting it in play.In this case, the ball is not in play until it is repositioned with the intention of replacing the ball as required by Rule 14.2. If the player makes a stroke at the ball while it is out of play, the player would be playing a wrong ball.
Test Drops Are Not Allowed
The dropping procedure in Rule 14.3 means that there is an element of uncertainty when taking relief under a Rule. It is not in the spirit of the game to test how a dropped ball will react.For example, in taking relief from a cart path (immovable obstruction), a player determines their relief area and realizes that the ball may roll and come to rest in a bush in the relief area. Knowing that the dropped ball would not be in play without intent, the player test drops a ball in one side of the relief area to see if it rolls into the bush.Since this act is contrary to the spirit of the game, the Committee is justified in disqualifying the player under Rule 1.2a (Serious Misconduct).
Correcting Mistake Made in Substituting, Replacing, Dropping or Placing Ball
Player May Change Where Ball is Dropped on Line When Dropping Again for Back-On-the-Line Relief
When a player is required to drop a ball a second time after using back-on-the-line relief under Rule 16.1c(2) (Abnormal Course Condition Relief), Rule 17.1d(2) (Penalty Area Relief), or Rule 19.2b or Rule 19.3b (Unplayable Ball Relief), they are required to drop again under the back-on-the-line relief option in the relevant Rule. But when dropping for the second time, the player is allowed to change the spot on the line where the ball is dropped so that the relief area that is created is nearer to or farther from the hole.For example, a player's ball comes to rest in a penalty area and they choose to take back-on-the-line relief. The player drops the ball in the right way, but it rolls out of the relief area. When the player drops again under back-on-the-line relief, they may drop on the line in a location that is nearer or farther from the hole, and the relief area changes based on that spot.
Player May Change Areas of Course in the Relief Area When Dropping Again
When a player's relief area is located in more than one area of the course and they are required to drop again under that relief option, the player may drop in a different area of the course within the same relief area, but doing so does not change how Rule 14.3c applies.For example, a player chooses to take unplayable ball relief under Rule 19.2c (Lateral Relief) and their relief area is partially in the general area and partially in a bunker. The player's drop first touches the bunker in the relief area and comes to rest in the general area or outside the entire relief area, so the player must drop again. When doing so, they may drop the ball in the general area portion of the relief area.
Playing from Wrong Place
Player Gets Penalty for Each Stroke Made from Area Where Play Is Not Allowed
When a player's ball comes to rest in an area where play is not allowed, the player must take relief under the appropriate Rule. In stroke play, if the player plays the ball from that area (such as a no play zone or wrong green) the player gets two penalty strokes for each stroke made from that area.For example, a player's ball comes to rest in a no play zone within a penalty area. The player enters the no play zone and makes a stroke at the ball, which moves only a few yards and remains in the no play zone. The player then makes another stroke at the ball and it comes to rest outside the no play zone.Each stroke counts, and the player gets the general penalty under Rule 14.7 for playing from a wrong place for each stroke made from the no play zone for a total of four penalty strokes. The player is required to play out the hole with the ball played from the no play zone, unless it was a serious breach. For a serious breach, the player must correct the mistake (see Rule 14.7b).
Ball in Wrong Place If Club Strikes Condition Relief Was Taken from
When a player is taking relief from interference by an abnormal course condition, they are required to take relief from all interference from that condition. If the ball is dropped in the relief area and comes to rest on a spot where the player has any type of interference from that condition based on the stroke the player would have made from the ball’s original position if the condition was not there, the ball is in a wrong place.For example, a player’s ball comes to rest on a cart path and the player decides to take relief. They estimate the nearest point of complete relief using the club that would have been used to play the ball from the cart path. Having measured the relief area from that point, the player drops a ball that comes to rest on a spot that the player thought was in the relief area. The player then makes a stroke, hitting the cart path during the stroke. Because the cart path was in the player’s area of intended swing, the player still had interference. Therefore, they did not properly determine the relief area and get the general penalty for playing from a wrong place.However, if the player had interference from the condition because, for example they decided to play in a different direction, with a different club, or their feet slipped when making the stroke and altered the intended swing, the player would not be considered to have played from a wrong place.