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Provisional & Lost Balls

posted Aug 5, 2010, 7:53 PM by Tahoe Donner Womens Golf Club   [ updated Aug 5, 2010, 7:58 PM ]

There were several comments regarding a provisional ball or lost ball  that were forwarded to me last week that I wanted to address for the membership.  I got to be rather longwinded, but I wanted to clarify the situations as much as possible as there are obviously women out on the course that are unsure of what action to take and who want to proceed properly.

Again, let me start by saying

  1. You hit a provisional ball because you think your ball might be lost or out of bounds.
  2. You do not hit a provisional if you think that your ball may be lost in a hazard.
  3. You and/or your opponent or fellow-competitor have 5 minutes to search for the ball once you get to the place where you think that your ball might be.  In equity (Rule 1-4) your opponent may continue to search even though you may wish abandon it and play your provisional. Your opponent may continue that 5 minute search,  provided that in the meantime you do not play a stroke with the provisional ball, it (the provisional ball) being nearer the hole than the place where the original ball is likely to be. (D: 27-2b/1)
  4. Also, if your fellow competitor finds your original ball, it remains the ball in play.  Any further decisions regarding the ball (ie. GUR, unplayable, etc) must apply to the original ball.  If for example your original ball is unplayable and your best option is to replay from where you last hit the ball (even though you had hit a provisional for a possibly lost ball) you must take your original ball back and re-hit it. The provisional ball cannot be used. It only speeds up play IF the original ball cannot be found.
  5.  If you cannot find your ball within the 5 minute time, that ball is deemed lost and you must go back and hit another ball as nearly as possible at the spot where the original ball lay (stroke and distance), or play your provisional. (Rule 27-1).
  6. If  you find your ball after exceeding the 5 minute search and  play it, you are playing the wrong ball (Dec 27/8) and subject to loss of hole in match play or a 2 stroke penalty in stroke play.

When the player has not played a provisional ball and has to return either to the teeing ground or to the spot nearest to where the original ball lay to re-hit because she assumes her ball is lost… here are 2 scenarios:

(D 27-1/1):  The player has teed ball and within the 5 minute search period, the original ball is found.  May the player abandon the teed ball and play the original ball?  Yes, the teed ball was not in play since the player had not yet made a stroke at it (see definition of Ball in Play) and the original ball was not lost (see definition of Lost ball).

(D 27-1/2) A player plays a second shot, searches briefly and then goes back and drops a ball under Rule 27-1. Before she plays the dropped ball and within the 5 minute period, the original ball is found.  Is the player required to continue with the dropped ball?  Yes.  When the player put the substituted ball into play at the spot of the previous stroke with the intent to play the ball under penalty of stroke and distance, the original ball was lost.  Therefore, Rule 20-6 does not apply, and she must continue with the substituted ball. If she had not yet dropped the ball, and the original ball had been found within 5 minutes, she could continue to play with the original ball.

(D 27-1/2.3) What if the player continues to play with the original ball instead of the ball that had been dropped?  As the original ball is no longer the player’s ball in play, it is a wrong ball and the provisions of Rule 15-3 apply (loss of hole in stroke play; 2 stoke penalty in stroke play).