Rules of Golf: Dropping and Re-dropping

Dropping and re-dropping: Jeremy Ellwood looks at some of the instances when you don't need to re-drop the ball, including one common misunderstanding

Dropping and re-dropping
Dropping and re-dropping
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Dropping and re-dropping: Jeremy Ellwood covers everything you need to know whenever you need to take a drop under the rules of golf. His advice will help you avoid penalties

Rules of Golf: Dropping and Re-dropping


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In most rounds of golf you play, you will probably have to take a drop at some stage, either as free relief from a certain interfering condition or perhaps as a penalty drop when you have hit your ball into a penalty area or had to deem it unplayable.

Firstly, if you drop your ball and it touches your body or equipment before it strikes a part of the course and comes to rest, you must re-drop without penalty. So, if your dropped ball strikes the leg of your standbag on the way down, don’t panic! Certainly, since knee-height dropping came into play we have had questions from people who have dropped balls that have struck them or their equipment before landing. Don’t worry, just re-drop. But if your ball touches any person, equipment or other outside influence after landing, but remains within the relief area, you do not need to re-drop.

A good idea is to find your reference point and then mark out your dropping area (either one or two club lengths depending on the circumstances) using tee pegs – this is your relief area and your ball must both land and remain within it.

Penalty Areas: How to Proceed Under Rule 17

Of course, you must now drop from knee height and you are not allowed to spin or manipulate the ball in any way to find a better lie – it must fall straight down from your fingers. You also cannot drop the ball outside the relief area on a slope thinking it will bounce back in. The ball must land in the area you have marked out.

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Finally, what should you do if you take a drop and the ball lands inside but then rolls out of the relief area? Well, under the 2019 rules of golf, you should re-drop… If the same happens again, you should place the ball on the spot where the last drop hit the ground. If the ball then rolls away, place it again. If the same happens, find the nearest spot (not nearer the hole and in the same area of the course where you are dropping) where the ball will remain stationary.


Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly. He is an expert on the Rules of Golf having qualified through an R&A course to become a golf referee. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played 1,000 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts. He reached the 1,000 mark on his 60th birthday in October 2023 on Vale do Lobo's Ocean course. Put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

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