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March 2024 - Club Replacement & Back-on-Line

March 2024 - Club Replacement & Back-on-Line

The R. & A. typically introduces major or minor changes to the rules of golf on a four-yearly
basis. The 2019 review was a major revamp of the entire rulebook. The 2023 changes were
far more minor and here are a few reminders:

Back-on-the-line-relief - this has been simplified. Taking the drop originally specified the
drop was to be within one club-length of the line, and if it rolled forward of the reference
point, a re-drop was to be taken. The change now requires the ball to be dropped on the
line and come to rest within one club-length in any direction of where it first touched the
line. So no re-drop will be required if the ball rolls forward (less than one club-length) from
where it first hit the ground. In the Pebble Beach Pro Am recently Rory Mcllroy declared his
ball unplayable (it was under a tree) and he decided to take back-on-line relief. He
proceeded correctly until he took his drop a meter or so right of his direct line instead of
dropping the ball directly on the line - this cost him two more penalty strokes! He admitted
that he was not up to speed with this new ruling.

Replacement of lost or damaged club - has been modified. The past rules did not permit
the replacement of lost or damaged clubs, during a round, if the player started the round
with 14 clubs. That anomaly has been remedied and with one exception (breaking a club in
anger) a player may repair or replace any damaged club with another club. It always
seemed unfair to penalise a player for something beyond their control. Rule 4 1a(2).

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