The new Rules of Golf for 2019 have caused a lot of controversy already since they came into play January 1st and one of the new rules nearly cost Spieth a penalty on his first drop of the year, had a rules official not intervened.
Jordan Spieth is not only one of the most talented players on Tour, but he's also one of the brightest and usually knows the rules of golf inside out without needing any help from his caddie or officials, but on Thursday one of the new rules nearly caught him out.
Spieth was on the 15th hole during the first round of the Sony Open in Hawaii, when his ball was sat right by a sprinkler head. Knowing he was allowed to take free relief from the sprinkler, Spieth picked up his ball and extended his arm at shoulder height to take his free drop.
Previously, that drop would have been perfectly normal and more importantly perfectly legal, but the new rule changes agreed to by the USGA and R&A state that players must now drop the ball from knee height.
Luckily for Spieth, one of the PGA Tour's main rules officials, Slugger White, was standing right next to the three-time major winner as he was taking his drop. White reportedly muttered "whoa, whoa, whoa!" and quickly intervened, saving Spieth some embarrassment.
Spieth then regained his composure and dropped the ball from knee height, as required. Had he dropped the ball from shoulder height, Spieth would have had the chance to re-drop it correctly without penalty, but if he had dropped the ball from shoulder height and played his shot, the American would have received a one-shot penalty.
The funny thing is, Spieth had publicly slammed the new drop rule just two days before during a press conference, where he said: “You drop it knee height, but like, what’s the advantage of dropping it shoulder height?” he 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.”