20 Rules for ’19: #3 – Substitute Ball Allowed When Taking Relief


It's okay to switch out golf balls any time you take a drop for relief, be it with a penalty or not.

USGA logoFind your ball in a penalty area and need to take a penalty relief?

Find your ball sitting in the middle of a cart path, in need of a free drop?

In both instances, a player may now replace the golf ball in play with a brand new ball before taking that relief drop.

The 2019 Rules allow a player the option to substitute a ball or to use the original ball either when taking penalty relief or when taking free relief.

The switch can only be made when taking relief by Rule, and not because a ball has moved and needs to be replaced (unless the runaway ball rolls into the water or a canyon and cannot be recovered in a few seconds).

Allowing a ball change under both free and penalty relief scenarios makes the rule consistent and easier to remember.

2019 USGA Rules Review: Substitute Ball with Relief >

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