The Rules of Golf define the dropping zone as “a special area on which balls may or must be dropped when it is not feasible or practicable to proceed exactly in conformity” with other corresponding Rule. Most often such zones are designated when normal crossing over penalty area may be too difficult for some players. The Rules also allow to define a dropping zone in case of Wrong Green, Abnormal Course Conditions, Immovable Obstructions, Dangerous Animal or Unplayable Ball.
These zones should offer an extra relief option rather than being mandatory. The Committee may also require use of a dropping zone as the player’s only relief option. When the zone is used frequently or permanently, the location and related relief procedures are described in local rules.
Dropping zones are marked on course by white painted lines on the ground, dedicated markers, stake or a sign. If the zone is defined by a line, the line is within the dropping zone.
In descriptions on the ground or on a plate, the Dropping Zone is often abbreviated as DZ, or sometimes as Drop Zone.
update: April 2021