New Rule is Driving Top Professionals to Distraction
MUCH has been said and written about golf’s new rules but the tournament professionals seem to be unanimous in calling for one of them to be abandoned, namely dropping the ball from knee height. No matter how hard they try, they seem to be incapable of grasping the fact that when you take a penalty drop it is no longer done from shoulder height. A succession of players have fallen foul of the new rule, including Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy.
But here’s the thing. McIlroy, Mickelson and Spieth had their mistakes pointed out to them before they struck the ball and were able to drop it again correctly. But Rickie Fowler wasn’t so fortunate. Playing in the WGC-Mexico Championship, the American shanked his approach out of bounds at the par-four 10th hole at Chapuletec Golf Club (it was his first hole of the day). He took a penalty drop and then played what he thought was his fourth shot onto the green.
He was a long way from the hole but believed he was putting for a bogey. However, it turned out that he had dropped the ball from shoulder height, which is a direct violation of the new rule. Fowler didn’t realise his mistake and played the shot anyway, leading to a triple-bogey seven to start his round. It does seem harsh because it stands to reason that dropping the ball from shoulder height is most definitely not going to give a golfer an advantage. And if so many of the pros dislike this rule then maybe it is time for the USGA and the R&A to admit that they got this one wrong - and change it.
Funnily enough, all the evidence points to the fact that this rule is working well in golf clubs around the world, with amateur golfers quickly embracing it. It was one of a number of rules introduced with the aim of speeding up play and although it is early days yet, it seems to be working. It does make you wonder why top players, who must realise they gain an advantage from dropping the ball from knee height, are finding it so difficult to adapt.
The new drop rule has been the subject of more criticism from top professional than any other.
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