You Should Play Provisional Ball

First of all, thank you for all your thoughts and comments on the previous rules article on “Time is Running Out.” I want to clarify one of my five bullet points about a lost ball which will lead us right into the provisional ball rule.

It is true that once a player has made a stroke at a provisional ball, now that is the ball in play, assuming certain things have taken place. Such as, your five-minute search is up

in looking for the ball. However, the key factor to Rule 27-2. b; When Provisional Ball Becomes Ball in Play – The player may play a provisional ball until he reaches the place where the original ball is likely to be. If he makes a stroke with the provisional ball from the place where the original ball is likely to be or from a point nearer the hole than that place, the original ball is lost and the provisional ball becomes the ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance.

The great thing about this rule is for example, you hit your Sunday best drive, although it looks like you might have hit it through the fairway into the desert. You announce that you are playing a provisional ball and you pop it straight up in the air only half the distance of your original ball. The Rule states that you may play the provisional ball up to the point of were the original ball is likely to be. If you find your first ball within the allotted time, you abandon the provisional and any strokes taken at the provisional ball do not count. This procedure when followed properly helps tremendously with pace of play.

We all want to, and should, play by the rules of golf and it is absolutely required in any type of tournament play. However, if you are playing a friendly round of golf, chances are you are not going back to the tee or from your last previous shot to play another ball if you lost your ball. You know what? it’s alright, just drop another ball down where you think your ball was likely to be and play it. You are out to have fun and play some golf with friends, the last thing you want to do is hold up the pace of play because the rules state that you have to go back to the tee or from the spot where you last played.

However, here is the proper procedure for playing a Provisional Ball under Rule 27:

Rule 27-2 a. Procedure
If a ball may be lost outside a water hazard or may be out of bounds, to save time the player may play another ball provisionally in accordance with Rule 27-1. The player must inform his opponent in match play or his marker or a fellow-competitor in stroke play that he intends to play a provisional ball, and he must play it before he or his partner goes forward to search for the original ball.

If he fails to do so and plays another ball, that ball is not a provisional ball and becomes the ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 27-1); the original ball is lost.
(Order of play from teeing ground – see Rule 10-3)

Note: If a provisional ball played under Rule 27-2a might be lost outside a water hazard or out of bounds, the player may play another provisional ball. If another provisional ball is played, it bears the same relationship to the previous provisional ball as the first provisional ball bears to the original ball.

b. If the original ball is lost outside a water hazard or is out of bounds, the provisional ball becomes the ball in play, under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 27-1).

Exception: If it is known or virtually certain that the original ball, that has not been found, has been moved by an outside agency (Rule 18-1), or is in an obstruction (Rule 24-3) or an abnormal ground condition (Rule 25-1c), the player may proceed under the applicable Rule.

c. When Provisional Ball to be Abandoned

If the original ball is neither lost nor out of bounds, the player must abandon the provisional ball and continue playing the original ball. If it is known or virtually certain that the original ball is in a water hazard, the player may proceed in accordance with Rule 26-1. In either situation, if the player makes any further strokes at the provisional ball, he is playing a wrong ball and the provisions of Rule 15-3 apply.

Note: If a player plays a provisional ball under Rule 27-2a, the strokes made after this Rule has been invoked with a provisional ball subsequently abandoned under Rule 27-2c and penalties incurred solely by playing that ball are disregarded.

PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE: Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.

So, remember always play a provisional ball if there is any doubt. Follow the proper procedures for it doesn’t cost you anything and more than likely will save you time and strokes.
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You are out to have fun and play some golf with friends, the last thing you want to do is hold up the pace of play because the rules state that you have to go back to the tee or from the spot where you last played.

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