Dropping: It is (apparently) difficult to drop from knee height!

Hi all.

The new 2019-Rules are now in effect.

One of the easiest new Rules is this: You must drop from knee height.

But well, it turns out that it may not be that easy after all.

Let me start by stressing these three facts about what the Rules of Golf say (Rule 14.3b):

  1. You must drop exactly from knee height – not over and not under.
  2. “Knee-height” is defined as the “...height of the player’s knee when in a standing position“.
  3. There are no requirements as to how to stand, when dropping. You can kneel or even sit down, if you want. What only matters is that you drop from knee height. The two pictures below thus both show a correct way to drop.


In real life dropping from knee height has turned out to be pretty difficult, mainly because…:

a) … we forget that it is not from shoulder height, and…
b) … because people find it difficult to find the knee height (we have a tendency to drop the ball way to high).

Let me illustrate these conclusions with three situations.

1. Correct height!

Take a look at the picture below from the PGA Tour in January. Look at it very carefully! There is no doubt that the player is dropping from knee height… but it is from the spectator’s knee!

As far as I know, the player did not incur any penalty (which seems wrong).

2. Westwood’s first drop.

See below also Lee Westwood in his very first 2019-drop (January 16th 2019 in Abu Dhabi Championship): 

3. Henrik Stenson’s shoulder height.

And Henrik Stenson the same day (as Westwood): 


So I guess it is not that easy to drop from knee height as it may sound.

Maybe you should stand in front of a mirror and practice it a bit…!


  1. Bob Lawrence says

    Some of the new rules have no logic and dropping the ball from knee height is one of them.
    Drop the ball from a standing position is all that is needed, after all it’s where the ball comes to rest that is important.
    Is this too simple ???

  2. Peter Jerman says

    Why should there be a penalty for dropping from higher than knee height as you are not gaining an advantage. Dropping from lower you could gain an advantage so penalty logical?

  3. Ian Tweedie says

    Not clear why PGA etc didn’t just allow placing the ball where it is a penalty drop.
    What am i missing?

    1. John Clarke says

      Agreed!!! What is the point of dropping 3 times because the ball did not land in the correct position AND THEN being told to place it where it hit the ground!!!! TIME WASTING.

      1. Colin MacGillivray says

        Placing was in the draft new rules 2 years ago. It will probably be in the next batch of rule changes. It’s obvious for the reason you say John. Many people who set the rules don’t understand that we play golf for pleasure and whatever the rule, it’s the same for everyone. So make them intuitive and quick.

  4. Ray Calnan says

    I have already stated this elsewhere, the rule is awkward.
    I have suggested to others to amend the rule thus…….stand erect with arm extended downward, and drop.
    It means the length of drop is increased by approx. 10cm. (4 in.), which is within the spirit and intent of the rule.

  5. tapio Santala says

    1.You must drop exactly from knee height – not over and not under.

    Not really as the knee is not really defined. I think no referee will deny the drop if you drop 1-2 inches too high or too low and there is even no reason for that.

    What I wonder is why they didn’t choose between two things; place directly or drop knee height at lowest part where you can drop. Makint things exact when no needed is not making rules more simple and clear

  6. Tom Nally says

    I suspect that this rule will have to be looked at fairly quickly because as someone else has already said, it is awkward in its implementation. Wait until you have to do this when playing in competition and you will soon find out.
    Whenever it is looked at I believe the best change offered so far would be to ” Drop from a standing position”.

  7. Jeffrey Bushell says

    From my experience no matter what height you are man or woman it would have been more sensible to drop the ball from the hand of a downward straight arm at the side of the body when standing upright and erect, if you check this out with a few people of different heights your finger tips are all the same length from the ground standing side by side, the drop would not then be open for discussion, nobody would gain from dropping the ball and this would be much easier and clearer than dropping it from the knee, when wearing trousers the knee is not visible, the height of the knee from the ground varies according to your height, check it out and you will find that the above is correct, unbelievable as it may seem but it is true.

  8. Dagbone says

    Those passing harsh judgment on this new directive are probably overthinking it just a bit.

    First of all, dropping from “knee” height is no more or less precise a target than dropping from “shoulder” height. In both cases, a certain margin of error cannot be eliminated and therefore must be (and will be) tolerated by Referees.

    I also think it’s a good idea to be rather strict in instructing someone on the proper form the first time around. That way, the learner will be more inclined to do it “closer to right” than they might otherwise.

    One of the potential benefits of dropping at knee height is that you have to bend over slightly to reach down to this point, which makes it less likely that the ball will strike your body before it hits the ground.
    Dropping simply with the arm extended straight downward would definitely make it more likely that the ball would hit your leg or foot on the way to the ground or on the rebound.

    Ultimately, the Rules officials are trying to accomplish two goals:
    1) Make the process easy to perform correctly the FIRST time (so that repeats are nearly eliminated, thereby speeding up play)
    2) Maintain at least some of the “randomness” that “placement” would completely eliminate.

    I think that once people get over the initial whinging that seems to always accompany new ideas, we’ll see that the new directive does a pretty good job in accomplishing these two goals.

    1. Lawrie says

      Your comments are spot on. The underlying reason for this change was (as with other rule changes) an attempt to speed up the pace of play, while still retaining some of the randomness of lies associated with dropping a ball. People just need to get on and get used to the new procedure. I’m sure there was the same concerns when dropping over the shoulder was eliminated as well, but players soon adapted.

      1. Anonymous says

        Quite agree. Funny that everyone can find their knee in the dark (to rub it when they run inti something in the dark) but can’t seem to find it in sunlight on the golf course. I have been playing for longer than these young Tour Players have been alive – I don’ t accept the criticism – if it’s your job and the boss says to do it this and not that – then you do it. Poor excuses foot forgetting the rules. I have more problems keeping to 30mph!

    2. Ian Tweedie says

      If the ball is not to be placed in a penalty drop, the “randomness” to which you refer can still result in a less favourable position than a penalty drop merits.

  9. Kenneth Williams says

    Why do six foot golfers have to drop from a point higher than say a five foot two golfer?

    1. Larry Kniseley says

      Cause his knee is higher up from the ground

    2. Lawrie says

      And that wasn’t an issue when dropping from shoulder height? Nothing has changed in that respect.

  10. Glenn T Camp says

    I bend from the waist, touch the ball to my knee, extend my arm a couple of inches and drop. It confirms it is from knee height, I don’t have to suffer bending from side-to-side, and it misses my foot. Works every time.

  11. Colin Smith says

    Its really a nonsense rule as people point our – the exactness is not needed and I bet that 90% of drops are now technically illegal even if we allow a 2 inch margin..(and there is no margin in the rules). It would be easier to say drop ‘no lower than knee height’ – a simple change to get around the nonsense

  12. Josie McCausland says

    Speaking as someone with back problems, I find bending over to drop from knee height much more difficult than dropping from shoulder height. I thought the idea was to encourage older players to continue to play golf but this rule will definitely discourage those of us over 65 with less mobility!

    1. Colin says

      Try putting one foot forward with knee bend and the other leg behind you. You can then get your dropping hand beside your forward knee without bending your back.

  13. Julio G.B says

    The difficulty about dropping from “knee high”, is just that we are used to drop from shoulder high, otherwise, there is no difference at all.
    But then, “why the change?”, The advantage I see is that we are able to see the spot where the ball touches the ground much clearer, which would allow us to place the ball in the correct spot in case we need to.

  14. Ian Tweedie says

    Kneeling is not standing so I don’t see if you drop while kneeling this is complying with the rule!

  15. Ian Tweedie says

    As a supplement to my immediately previous post -and as a comment to your intro-how can sitting possibly amount to being in a standing position!

  16. Michelle says

    Maybe easier if the rule had been “above knee height”
    So what if the drop is above shoulder height, now the only problem would be to resolve where the knee begins and ends, mine is about 10 cms from top to bottom.

  17. Maureen says

    Dropping from knee height – rarely require a second drop because the ball has rolled out of the designated relief area, doesn’t plug if taking a drop in the bunker. Shoulder height was always a bit random with the arm held above or below the shoulder ( no one used a spirit level to check) likewise knee height.

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