During the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions last week, Bryson DeChambeau had to take a drop, and according to the new USGA Rules of Golf, he was forced to do so from knee height. It turned into an awkward dance (nearly literally) as you can see from the photo below.
After his 68 in Round 2, DeChambeau lit up the rule and offered up an amendment that would satisfy him.
“That you have to drop it from knee height is a bit absurd, unfortunately,” DeChambeau said. “I think that you should be able to go from knee height to shoulder height. There should be no issue with that, whatever you want to do, honestly. There’s a lot of questions about that.”
Here’s a look at how the rule is supposed to play out when you need relief.
To be fair to the oft-critiqued USGA, this rule doesn’t really seem that difficult. You bend at the waist to drop at the knee. DeChambeau made it look like he was trying to do a yoga pose.
But fellow American star Jordan Spieth agrees with DeChambeau, as he noted at the Sony Open on Wednesday ahead of his first start of 2019.
“One that I don’t really understand necessarily is the drop,” Spieth said. “You drop it knee height, but like what’s the advantage of dropping it shoulder height? Actually probably a disadvantage, so why can’t you still do that? Should be able to drop it from shoulder to knee height in my opinion. Doesn’t do any good and honestly it’s like a frustrating asterisk that I have to re-pick it up and re-drop from your knee.”
It seems like the consensus is changing the rule to allow you to drop anywhere between your knees and your shoulders, which, as Rory McIlroy pointed out is a pretty big variance for players on the PGA Tour.
” … Practicing your drops from your knees,” said McIlroy before the Tournament of Champions. “We’re saying that Brian Harman has got a big advantage, he can basically place it. Where you got someone like Tony Finau who is dropping it probably from like waist high for me. But I think that they’re trying to simplify the rules which I think is a great thing for the game.”
I have to say I didn’t see this coming. I thought leaving the pin in while you putt or the new rule about being able to touch impediments in a bunker would be the most controversial, the most wrought with angst. But instead it’s whether you should drop your ball from two feet off the ground or five. I guess I understand it — and McIlroy makes a good point that it’s an advantage for shorter players — and the noise has been loud enough early on to wonder how long it’s going to last and whether anything will change.