2023 rules changes to know: A drop that can land CLOSER to the hole?

Tiger Woods of the United States drops their ball on on the 1st hole the during Day One of The 150th Open at St Andrews Old Course on July 14, 2022 in St Andrews, Scotland.

A ball can now roll forward after being dropped in this situation.

Getty Images

The Rules of Golf are changing — ever so slightly — in 2023. Here’s a few of the most notable changes you need to be aware of.


Taking a drop will be a little less complicated in 2023.

The time-consuming process of having to re-drop your ball because it rolled forward, closer to the hole will become a thing of the past when using back-on-the-line relief starting Jan. 1.

Back-on-the-line relief is used most often for penalty area and unplayable lie drops. It’s when you take the ball’s entry point into a penalty area — or location of the ball for unplayable — and go back as far as you’d like while keeping that point between you and the hole.

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Previously a drop could be taken anywhere within one club length of this line, but if the ball rolled forward, it would have to be re-dropped.

In 2023, the USGA is changing rules 14.3b, 16.1c(2), and 17.1d(2) to read like this, “the player must drop the ball on the line and the ball must come to rest within one club length in any direction of where it first touched the line.”

This now means just because a ball rolls forward, it won’t have to be re-dropped as long the ball stops within one club length of the spot where the ball was dropped.

This takes the procedure under Model Local Rule E-12.

Drops like this aren’t very often scrutinized for this reason in the pro game, but for the recreational level, this change should allow drops to be less complicated and faster.

The change officially goes into effect on Jan. 1.

Jack Hirsh

Golf.com Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.