Monday, May 3

The Rules Geek: Phil Mickelson and the Proper Drop

Editor’s note: The Rules Geek is an occasional and potentially annoying feature at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

ONE OF THE MOST common rules situations on the PGA Tour and other tours is the drop without penalty. It happened on Sunday at the Quail Hollow Championship. Phil Mickelson got relief on the 15th hole when his errant drive came to rest near a cart path. The tour official was summoned and the dropping and re-dropping began. The interaction between player, tour official and caddie is a well-choreographed little dance and always seems to take longer than necessary.

It’s a free drop. Seems easy enough. But who can take the drop and what is the proper technique? Let’s have a look at the rule, shall we?

Rule 20-2. Dropping and Re-Dropping a. By Whom and How states “A ball to be dropped by the Rules must be dropped by the player himself. He must stand erect, hold the ball at shoulder height and arm’s length and drop it. If the ball is dropped by any other person or in any other manner and the error is not corrected as provided in Rule 20-6, (THE FOLLOWING PART IS PRINTED IN RED) the player incurs a penalty of one stroke.”

(Interestingly to the Rules Geek, Rule 20. Lifting, Dropping and Placing; Playing from Wrong Place is one of the most detailed and lengthy rules, taking up seven pages in The Rules of Golf.)

It’s odd to think that improper technique could cost a player a stroke, but that’s the rule. Phil dropped with his left arm extended, and on television it appeared that he used proper technique on each of his drops. (Bones even asked the tour official if it was OK to pick up the ball when it rolled away each time. Pros and their caddies take absolutely no chances on a possible rules misstep.)

After completing the drop (he eventually placed the ball and that’s another issue), Phil launched his second shot with a utility club and nearly reached the green 265 yards away. He went on to finish second to Rory McIlroy.

The Rules Geek salutes all players who stand erect and hold the golf ball at shoulder height and arm’s length when dropping and re-dropping.

The Rules Geek sez rules were made to be followed. Got a rules-related tip or story? Send it to The Rules Geek at

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1 comment:

Alexandra said...

I just found this blog. Interesting info. I am starting to take golf lessons and still learning the ropes. I admire Phil Mickelson for playing so well despite his medical condition of psoriatic arthritis. I have psoriasis myself and he is inspiring.