Give Jordan Spieth this: he’s a man of his word.
In his pre-tournament press conference at the Sony Open, the three-time major winner was asked about his thoughts on the latest revision to the Rules of Golf. Echoing the sentiments of Bryson DeChambeau and Rory McIlroy, Spieth took issue with the guideline on drops, which requires players to release the ball from knee, not shoulder, height.
“You drop it knee height, but like, what’s the advantage of dropping it shoulder height?” Spieth said. “It’s actually probably a disadvantage, so why can’t you still do that? You should be able to drop it from shoulder to knee height in my opinion. It 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.”
According to the USGA, this alteration was made to increase the chance of a ball staying within the relief area. “Requiring the player to drop a ball (as opposed to placing it) retains a desired randomness about where the ball ends up,” reads the explainer in the Rules of Golf. “The player has no guarantee that the ball will come to rest on a desired spot or in a good lie. This is especially the case when a ball is dropped in more difficult conditions such as thick rough or longer grass.”
Nevertheless, Spieth said it hasn’t jived with him yet.
“Technically, you take a drop from your shoulder and play out, you could be penalized for that. Doesn’t make much sense,” he said. “It’s a disadvantage to drop it that high, so that one I didn’t really understand fully. It was cool that you’re able to get lower to drop it. I thought you would be able to do it at any height.”
Turns out, he wasn’t kidding.
In his opening trek at Waialae C.C. on Thursday, Spieth’s tee shot on the 15th hole came to rest by a sprinkler head, bestowing the option to take relief. The 25-year-old attempted to drop in the fashion he was accustomed to: shoulder height.
Which is when rules czar Slugger White came to the rescue:
Perhaps it was inadvertent. Possibly, out of protest. That Slugger just happened to be in the vicinity…well, Slugger always seems to be in the vicinity of such matters, so let’s not read too much into that.
Whatever the intention, we can all agree: the Rules of Golf are the gifts that keep on giving.