If you play enough golf eventually you’re going to have to drop a ball. Whether you hit your ball in a hazard or another unplayable surface, knowing how to drop a ball is one of the most important rules a golfer has to know. Unfortunately, dropping a ball isn’t as simple as you might think it; which is why we wanted to take a few moments to talk about just how you should drop a ball during your next round.

But before we talk about the drop itself the first questions we should ask is, “When do you have to have to drop a ball anyway?”. As you may or may not know, there are actually quite a few situations where a golfer has to drop a ball. As a rule of thumb, if you’re not playing the ball as it lies you’re likely going to have to drop it. A couple examples of this are:

  • When you hit a ball out of bounds or can’t play it out of a hazard
  • When your lie is unplayable
  • When your shot is impeded by a man-made obstacle or your ball is resting in ground under repair

Proper Drop Technique

According to the USGA, there is actually a very particular way that a golfer must drop the ball. In fact, failing to drop the ball the correct way can result in a one-stroke penalty unless you realize your mistake and re-drop immediately.

In order to avoid this potential penalty, focus on these four simple rules for the perfect golf ball drop:

  1. You must be the person to drop your ball, not a playing partner or caddy
  2. Stand straight up when you drop a ball
  3. Drop your ball from shoulder level
  4. Hold the ball in front or to the side of you, an arm’s length away from your body

That’s it! While this might seem like common sense to a golfer that’s played competitively, it’s incredible how often this simple rule is broken during casual rounds of golf (I’ve even mis-dropped a few balls before during my rounds).

Although most of us don’t want to think about having to drop a ball during our next round, knowing how to do so properly might save you from another penalty stroke and help get you back on track towards playing great golf. So until next time golfers, keep those four points in the back of your head and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with mastering golf’s most broken rule.