Monday, 5 April 2010

When You May Not Play a Provisional Ball


If there is one thing that can help to speed up play it is the correct use of the provisional ball. It is frustrating to have to take that long walk back to where you last played from when you cannot find your ball and have to suffer the stroke and distance penalty. However, there is one important situation where you are not permitted to play a provisional ball if you think that your ball could be lost. Rule 27-2 states;
“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.”
In other words, if it is known or it is virtually certain that the ball is within the margins of a water hazard (or lateral water hazard) then the player may not play a provisional ball. The reason for this is that the relief options for a ball lost in a water hazard (Rule 26-1a) are significantly more advantageous than those for a ball that is lost or out of bounds Rule 27-1).

There are two Decisions that clearly illustrate this;
27-2a/2 Provisional Ball Played Solely in Belief Original Ball Might Be in Water Hazard
Q. A player's tee shot might be in a water hazard, but clearly it is not lost outside a water hazard or out of bounds. The player announces that, since his ball might be in the hazard, he is going to play a provisional ball and he does so. Rule 27-2a seems to prohibit a provisional ball in the circumstances. What is the ruling?
A. The player did not play a provisional ball which, according to the Definition of "Provisional Ball," is a ball played under Rule 27-2 for a ball which may be lost outside a water hazard or may be out of bounds. The second ball from the tee was in play since it was not a provisional ball.

27-2a/2.2 Possibility That Original Ball Is in Water Hazard May Not Preclude Play of Provisional Ball
Q. If a player's original ball may have come to rest in a water hazard, is he precluded from playing a provisional ball?
A. No. Even though the original ball may be in a water hazard, the player is entitled to play a provisional ball if the original ball might also be lost outside the water hazard or out of bounds. In such a case, if the original ball is found in the water hazard, the provisional ball must be abandoned — Rule 27-2c (Formerly 27-2c/1)
The point made in the answer to this second Decision is important. Whether a ball may be lost inside or outside of a hazard may depend a lot on the surrounding terrain. If a wide fairway leads straight down to a water hazard then the ball will either be found on the fairway or will be in the water hazard. But if there is long grass and/or trees around the water hazard then the ball could be lost anywhere inside or outside of the hazard because it could be hidden in the deep rough or could have been deflected off trees in any direction.

There was a high profile incident concerning this Rule back in 2004 when Greg Norman told his fellow competitors, Fred Couples and Charles Howell lll, that he was going to play a provisional tee shot for his original ball that he thought might be lost in a water hazard. As explained above the Rules only permit a provisional to be played if the original ball is believed to be lost or out of bounds, not when it is in a water hazard. Ironically, Norman found his original ball in a bunker. He then picked-up the ball that he thought was a provisional from the middle of the fairway and played from the bunker. The Rules Official accompanying the group, Slugger White, told Norman that he would have to return and drop a ball where his second tee shot had come to rest. Including the penalties for playing a wrong ball from the bunker and lifting a ball that was in play, he would have been playing his seventh shot to the green. "He chose not to do that," White said. "He said, 'I'm disqualified,' and left.” Surprisingly, Fred Couples said that he also was not aware of this Rule. Another case of tour professionals not knowing the Rules as well as they should, which always surprises me when I think about how much money can be riding on one or two extra strokes over a four-day competition.

Remember that the only two circumstances when you can hit a provisional ball are also the only two times when you are required to proceed under stroke and distance if you cannot find your original ball. Makes sense doesn’t it?

Good golfing,


Barry Rhodes





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45 comments:

Anonymous said...

At our course we have a par 3 over water. There are reeds along the water and some fairway short of the green. Unless the ball lands on the green, it's not clear if it got over the water hazard. It's a 150+ yards from the tee to check.

The 1st decision would slow up play, as a second ball should not be played if there is a chance the first ball got over the hazard.

Does our committee have any options?

Regards
James

Barry Rhodes said...

James,

Yes, This is taken from Part B of Appendix l to the Rules of Golf;

"1. Water Hazards; Ball Played Provisionally Under Rule 26-1

If a water hazard (including a lateral water hazard) is of such size and shape and/or located in such a position that:

(i) it would be impracticable to determine whether the ball is in the hazard or to do so would unduly delay play, and

(ii) if the original ball is not found, it is known or virtually certain that it is in the water hazard,

the Committee may introduce a Local Rule permitting the play of a ball provisionally under Rule 26-1. The ball is played provisionally under any of the applicable options under Rule 26-1 or any applicable Local Rule. In such a case, if a ball is played provisionally and the original ball is in a water hazard, the player may play the original ball as it lies or continue with the ball played provisionally, but he may not proceed under Rule 26-1 with regard to the original ball."

The Committee may also designate a dropping zone to deal with this situation.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Thanks Barry.
I'll bring that to their attention.

Regards
James

Alan said...

The reasoning behind these rules are to protect what is one of the most integral premises of the game of golf. This is the premise that a player should NEVER be allowed to have a CHOICE (this is an important term here) between 2 balls to play. This idea necessitates the prohibition of provisionals when the water hazards are involved. For example:

A player hits a ball from the tee that is most likely in a water hazard. If a provisional is allowed in this situation, and the original ball IS in the water hazard, then this player would have a CHOICE between the balls. He or she would have 3 choices to proceed involving 2 golf balls: (1) play the original ball as it lies, (2) drop the original ball according to the rules for water hazards and lateral hazards and proceed, or (3) declare the provisional in play and proceed from that point playing his or her 4th shot.

We always have choices when hazards are involved. But we NEVER have choices involving multiple balls. The prohibition of provisionals in this situation keeps this part of the game intact and closes up any loopholes that could be exposed if a provisional was allowed in this situation.

Barry Rhodes said...

Alan,

An excellent point, well made.

Thank you,

Barry

Anonymous said...

On our 2nd hole we have a creek that is a lateral hazard, on the other side of this (and to the left) is an area of tall grass.
One of my fellow players hooked his 2nd shot which we could not see land. He was sure that the ball cleared the hazard and landed in the long grass. He dropped a ball and played a provisional in case of a lost ball outside of hazard. The original ball was found inside the hazard.
My belief was the original(found) ball remains the ball in play - however another maintained that because the ball was found in a hazard, the playig of the provisional ball was not allowed and therefor the provisional is the ball in play.
Any comments?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Neither you, nor your fellow player have fully understood this Rule. The player was certainly permitted to play a provisional ball as his ball may have been lost outside of the water hazard. However, as soon as he found his original ball in the hazard his provisional ball had to be abandoned (Rule 27-2c). The player may then decide to play his ball from the hazard, without grounding his club, or choose one of the options for relief, under penalty of one stroke, set out in Rule 26-1a.

Barry

Anonymous said...

in a stroke play compition whose is supposed to time for searching the ball, which is being searched.thanks

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

It is the responsibility of the player to start timing as soon as they, their partner or their caddie start searching for their ball, because it is they that would incur a penalty if they continue play with a ball that has been found after 5 minutes. A Committee would have no option other than to penalise a player (which would be disqualification if they returned a score for the hole without including the penalty) if they received evidence that the player had searched for their ball for more than the 5 minutes permitted by the Rules.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Barry

This is taken from Part B of Appendix l to the Rules of Golf;

"1. Water Hazards; Ball Played Provisionally Under Rule 26-1


Why would the committee designate a drop zone when playing under this local rule that allows you only to play the ball as it lies if in the hazard or carry on with the provisional?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

If you read the second comment above you will see the full content of "1. Water Hazards; Ball Played Provisionally Under Rule 26-1 in Appendix l, Part B.

It goes on to explain the circumstances that the Local Rule may be introduced, viz.;

If a water hazard (including a lateral water hazard) is of such size and shape and/or located in such a position that:

(i) it would be impracticable to determine whether the ball is in the hazard or to do so would unduly delay play, and

(ii) if the original ball is not found, it is known or virtually certain that it is in the water hazard,


If the above Local Rule is operational and following a tee shot the player finds their ball in the hazard, they may play it as it lies in the hazard (2nd stroke), or play their provisional ball (4th stroke). They may not drop a ball under one of the relief from water hazard options afforded by Rule 26-1.

I hope that I have correctly understood your question.

Barry

Anonymous said...

At our course we have a par three
over water and we also have a drop
area 50 ft in front of our tee box.
If we are not sure if our ball is in the brush over the water can we play a provisional ball from the drop area or do we have to play it from the tee box.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

The Rules of Golf only permit a player to play a provisional ball from where the ball that may be lost or out of bounds was last played. So, a provisional ball may not be played from the dropping zone for a ball that was played from the teeing ground.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Barry,
The par 4 3rd hole at my golf course is an elevated tee shot with a large pond on the right. It is a slight dog leg to the right. Often, alot of balls are sliced into the pond. Longer hitters can slice it far enough that it carries over the pond and lands into fescue which is 30 yards to the right of the green. When the ball is hit right and short, you know it is in the pond. When it is hit long and right, it can get over the pond and into fescue.
In a tournament a competitor hit it right. He declared provisional and hit that. He then went up to the area in question and searched for his first ball, as I assumed he believed it to be in the fescue over the pond. When he could not find that ball, he told his playing competitor that the ball must have gone into the hazard and proceeded to play a hazard ball and abandoned his provisional. The playing competitor who held his scorecard did not know and agreed.

I do not believe he proceeded correctly, please advise.

thank you very much.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

You are correct. Because the player was not certain that his original ball was in the water hazard he was permitted to play a provisional ball. When he failed to find his original ball his only option was to play the provisional ball, now lying three. By incorrectly playing a wrongly substituted ball from a wrong place and not correcting the mistake before teeing off at the next hole he probably committed a serious breach of the Rules, warranting disqualification by the Committee.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Barry,

Thank you very much for your prompt reply.

The tournament was completed in July. This issue did not come to light until a week after the tournament concluded.

This is not a witch hunt but can anything be done about this so long after?

thank you again

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Presuming that the player did not know that he should not have taken relief from the water hazard there is nothing that the Committee can do. Rule 34-1b states that a penalty must not be imposed after the competition has closed, with four exceptions, none of which are relevant to the circumstances that you describe.

Barry

Rusty said...

This happened to me exactly - my match play opponent said I could not play a provisional ball for a ball that was in a hazard .

I was 250 m away I could not tell if the ball had crossed the hazard, was in the hazard or was lost. Surely I can play a provision ball, then if I find the original ball in a hazard I can play as that or if I dont find it I can play the prov. as a lost ball rule. I can understand that if don't find it I can't say it went in there, and drop another ball. Is this correct I can't play a provisional for a ball outside a hazard - or are people reading it the wrong way - "outside a hazard" does not exclude the ball inside the hazard and you can proceed under the hazard rules.?

Thanks

Rusty said...

As I mentioned earlier my opponent in match play got it wrong - He said I could not play the ball found in a hazard if I had played a provisional ball. Ie I could play a provisional ball for a ball in a hazard. I don't what the situation was with the ball until I got there, anyhow If I hit a provisional ball from the tee and find it in a hazard surely I can hit that ball in a hazard - as it is NOT outside a harard or lost?

extract - 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).
full rule below

27-2. Provisional Ball
• 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. 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 (Rule 27-1).

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).

Thanks
Rusty

Barry Rhodes said...

Rusty,

You have correctly answered your own question her. The important sentence is the first one in Rule 27-2;
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 ...

It would seem that in your situation there was a chance that the ball could have been lost outside of the water hazard, so a provisional ball was correctly played. If the original ball is then found (anywhere in bounds) the provisional ball has to be abandoned. If the ball is found inside the water hazard the player may either play it from where it lies without penalty (and without grounding their club), or take relief under penalty of one stroke under Rule 26-1a.

I think that if you read this blog again you will see that I covered this situation.

Barry

Gary said...

Yesterday, in ourtournament, on number 4 hole one of the players thought he had hit the ball in a hazard. After unsuccessfully not finding the ball, he took a drop and hit his next shot provisionally. He then found his original ball on thé other side and played the original ball through the completion of the hole. My question is "was this a proper use of a provisional ball?" Unfortunately, he didn't play both balls into the hole. So he either has a legitimate score or is disqualified.

Thanks
Gary

Barry Rhodes said...

Gary,

The player was disqualified. You are not permitted to play a provisional ball for a ball that you think is lost in a water hazard, nor are you permitted to play a provisional ball once you have gone forward to search for your original ball, (Rule 27-2a). Therefore, the dropped ball was the ball in play and as the player did not complete the hole with this ball they were disqualified.

Barry

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry if this has been previously answered but the way I have read the answers seem to contradict each other.

A competitor in my golf league hit a tee shot thought to be in a red staked pond 20 yards directly in front of the tee box. Since there is a small slope you could not see for sure that it went in. He stated he was going to hit a provisional and hit that in the water a little farther out so it was obvious.

It turned out that the first ball was in the water and he proceeded to play his drop from the water stating he was hitting 3. I thought since he wasn't entitled to a provisional anyways he should be hitting 5.

Our league officials concluded that since the original ball was determined to be in the hazard he was correct in hitting 3 and the provisional at that point would be abandoned.

Any input would be appreciated.

Thanks

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

I agree that this subject can be a little confusing. The player was entitled to play a provisional ball if it was not virtually certain that his original ball had come to rest within the margin of a water hazard. When he then found his ball in the water hazard he correctly picked-up the provisional ball and continued play with the original ball. He was lying 3 when he dropped the ball out of the hazard. If he had not found his original ball then he would have had to continue play with his provisional ball.

Barry

Martin said...

I have been studying this thread since I read a question on this very topic in Golf Monthly for July. I didn't fully understand the answer so decided to do some research and hence found this forum along with one on the Golfmagic rules forum, which actually pointed to your forum Barry. I think I do now understand what you are meant to do under the rules regarding provisional balls after your original MAY have entered a Water Hazard. At the course I regular play we have the exact same situation as the last person in his question of 21st June. The problem I actually have now is the rules as they stand seem to cover what they need too cover but there seems to be this option that the club may introduce a local rule as described in an early entry (this is also what the magazine alluded to). Why do you need this local rule, because if do have it and you find your original ball in the hazard, then you can only play it as it lies or play your provisional, you cannot proceed under Rule 26-1. I understand why the local rule options are why they are, I just don't understand why or when you would actually introduce this local rule? Long winded message sorry. Martin

Barry Rhodes said...

Martin,

I too am puzzled as to why a Committee would introduce this Local Rule, which I think can only lead to increased confusion amongst players. I would make the point that it can only be introduced in limited circumstances;

If a water hazard (including a lateral water hazard) is of such size and shape and/or located in such a position that:

(i) it would be impracticable to determine whether the ball is in the hazard or to do so would unduly delay play, and

(ii) if the original ball is not found, it is known or virtually certain that it is in the water hazard,


The reason why you cannot proceed under Rule 26-1 if you find your ball in the water hazard, but choose not to play it, is that the provisional ball has already been played "provisionally under any of the applicable options under Rule 26-1 or any applicable Local Rule." In other words, when this Local Rule is in place, the provisional ball does not have to be played from where the previous stroke was made from.

It's a difficult subject and not relevant to most golfers.

Barry

Caroline said...

Barry,

My situation is similar to the question you answered on 21 June, but I am hoping for a small clarification. I was playing a new course with some friends and hit my tee shot into what I believed was a stand of trees and underbrush. I hit a provisional, which landed in a water hazard just in front of the tee box. (Needless to say, it was not my best hole.) Frustrated and unsure what to do, I decided to look for my original ball and discovered that there was a pond directly behind the bushes. I was unable to find my ball, but assumed it must have gone in the water, and so took a drop outside the hazard. I am curious about whether the application of the rule would be different, since I couldn't find my ball. What would have been the correct way to proceed and should it have been counted as hitting 3 or 5?

Many thanks,
Caroline

Barry Rhodes said...

Caroline,

You say that you "assumed" that your original ball must have gone in the water. This is not sufficient evidence to be able to take relief under penalty from the water hazard. You must 'know or be virtually certain' that the ball was in the water hazard. Therefore, your original ball was lost and the provisional ball was in play. As you were certain that your provisional ball was in the water hazard, just in front of the tee box, you were entitled to take relief under penalty of one stroke from that hazard, either from the teeing ground or behind the water hazard (Rule 26-1). Your next stroke would be your 5th.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Barry-

Today I disagreed with ruling in an event.

Shot #1 -- tee shot into red staked hazard. All participants certain ball flew into hazard.
Shot #2 -- player hit "provisional" to fairway.
Shot #3 -- player went directly to "provisional" ball and hit to green.

I argued that the player was not entitled to hit a provisional ball and should have played as "ball lost in hazard"

Committee allowed player to proceed with provisional ball .

Your Thoughts ?

Kelly

Barry Rhodes said...

Kelly,

The Committee ruled correctly. If there was no way that the player's ball could have been lost anywhere other than in the lateral water hazard, they were not entitled to play the provisional ball and so when they played a second ball off the teeing ground it was their ball in play, even though they had announced it as 'provisional'. If there was a chance that the ball could have been lost elsewhere (e.g. trees, bushes, rough) then the provisional ball was properly played and the player was entitled to play it, as there is no requirement in the Rules for a player to search for a ball that they have played.

Barry

Martin said...

Hi Barry, I posted a comment on
4th July on this provisonal ball issue and water hazards, to which you responded and I thought I understood until yesterday when at a club competition this issue came up and there were differing views so I started to doubt my understanding. This is because when I read the blog again there seemed to be a contradiction, but on further reading I think the possible contradiction relates to the introduction of a local rule as as a result I requesting some final clarification:-

If there is no local rule and a provisonal ball is correctly taken, but the ball is then found in the water hazard, then the only option is to abandon the provisonal and play the next shot under rule 26-1a.

If, however, a local rule IS in place as described earlier then the ONLY options to the player if they find the ball in the water hazard is to play the ball as it lies OR play the provisional, they CANNOT use the options for relief in 26-1a as a further option.

Once again a long message, but I just wanted to get things staright in my head.

regards

Martin

Barry Rhodes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin said...

Hi Barry,

The Local rule I was referring to was the one shown earlier in the blog, which is the one Taken from Appendix 1 Part B of the rules of Golf. I just wanted clarification of what to do if the original ball was found in the hazard AFTER a provo ball was taken. I have assumed that if the local rule mentioned was in place then the relief options stated in that local rule take precedents over the basic rule.

Martin

Barry Rhodes said...

Martin,

If the Local Rule is worded the same as the specimen in Appendix l, Part B then these are the answers to your questions;

If there is no local rule and a provisonal ball is correctly taken, but the ball is then found in the water hazard, then the only option is to abandon the provisional and play the next shot under rule 26-1a.

Correct.

If, however, a local rule IS in place as described earlier then the ONLY options to the player if they find the ball in the water hazard is to play the ball as it lies OR play the provisional, they CANNOT use the options for relief in 26-1a as a further option.

That is also correct.

Barry

RP said...

I am confused how there is a "CHOICE" as Alan refers to it.

Rule 27-2c states:
If the original ball is neither lost nor out of bounds, the player must abandon the provisional ball and continue playing the original ball.

At the PGA today on the 11th, Keegan pulled his drive well left. Coincidentally, the announcers said he had hit his ball in the water. I was surprised when he proceeded to hit a provisional.

Upon reading this posting it made sense to me. Apparently, he was not "virtually certain" he had hit in a hazard. Yet when he found it in the hazard he was forced to abandon his provisional per 27-2c and play the ball that was in the hazard.

In the Greg Norman incident referenced, what advantage did Norman gain by hitting a provisional? Upon finding his original ball he played it.

Where was the additional "CHOICE" for either player? Once the original is found, bye-bye provisional.

It seems what can you not do, is be "virtually certain" your ball is in the hazard when you arrive at the hazard.

It seems to me the issue for Greg Norman would have occurred if he tried to claim his ball was in the hazard after hitting his provisional.

Am I reading this correctly?
----------
Alan said...
The reasoning behind these rules are to protect what is one of the most integral premises of the game of golf. This is the premise that a player should NEVER be allowed to have a CHOICE (this is an important term here) between 2 balls to play. This idea necessitates the prohibition of provisionals when the water hazards are involved. For example:

A player hits a ball from the tee that is most likely in a water hazard. If a provisional is allowed in this situation, and the original ball IS in the water hazard, then this player would have a CHOICE between the balls. He or she would have 3 choices to proceed involving 2 golf balls: (1) play the original ball as it lies, (2) drop the original ball according to the rules for water hazards and lateral hazards and proceed, or (3) declare the provisional in play and proceed from that point playing his or her 4th shot.

We always have choices when hazards are involved. But we NEVER have choices involving multiple balls. The prohibition of provisionals in this situation keeps this part of the game intact and closes up any loopholes that could be exposed if a provisional was allowed in this situation.

11 June 2010 19:08



Barry Rhodes said...
Alan,

An excellent point, well made.

Thank you,

Barry

12 June 2010 08:19

Barry Rhodes said...

RP,

Greg Norman mistake was to announce to his fellow competitors that he was going to play a provisional tee shot because he thought that his drive was in the water hazard. So, he was playing a provisional ball for the wrong reason and his second ball was the ball in play. A clear case of him not being familiar with Rule 27-2.

I accept that there was no advantage to Greg Norman when he played this provisional ball, but the Rules have to apply in all possible situations. It would be invidious to introduce a Rule that permitted play of a provisional ball only when there was no possibility that the player could benefit from having a choice of options as to which ball to play.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Situation : Par 3,desert course. No grass around the green, and green is on top of a hill, scrub brush and rocks on slopes around green. If you miss the green on tee shot, a lost ball is likely, or an unplayable lie, or an extremely hard second shot. No marked hazards on hole.

Player misses green, announces provisional, and hits his provisional into the hole from the tee.

Does not attempt to look for original ball, scores a 3 for the hole.

All ok here based on the rules?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

In equity (Rule 1-4) the provisional ball becomes the ball in play as soon as the player picks it out of the hole, provided his original ball has not already been found in bounds before this happens (Decision 27-2b/2).

Barry

Christy said...

When playing a par 4 on our course there is a water hazard which cannot be directly seen from the tee box. In front of the water hazard the ground is clear and when the ball is in the air you can clearly see whether is is stuck towards the hazard or not. You and your fellow competitors have a very good idea if it is in the hazard or not. Over the hazard there are some individual trees and short rough where a ball if it landed there should be found. Would this constitute reasonable evidence that your ball was in the hazard and are you entitled to drop a ball at the deemed point of entry as opposed to declaring ball lost and playing a provisional ball. The ball should definately be found if it was outside the hazard.

Barry Rhodes said...

Christy,

From the information that you describe it would seem that players on this hole should not play provisional balls and if their original ball is not found it is known or reasonably certain that it is lost in the water hazard.

However, I would recommend that the Committee reviews the situation and then prepares an explanatory notice for players, to ensure that they everyone plays to the same Rules.

Barry

Wade Williams said...

Barry,

I know I'm going way back on this one, but what I don't understand about the Greg Norman situation is why the rules official ruled that his second ball was in play.

If you do not know or are not virtually certain that your ball is in the hazard, then it may be lost somewhere on the course, and you are therefore entitled to play a provisional.

If Norman's ball MAY have been lost in water hazard, then it also MAY NOT have been, and thus, he should have been entitled to play a provisional ball. Once it was determined his ball was in the bunker, he could have abandoned the provisional ball and played the ball in the bunker. Even had his ball been found to be in the water hazard, he would have been eligible to take relief under 26-1 and the provisional would have been abandoned.

Was there something which met the standard of Norman knowing or being virtually certain that his ball was in the hazard?

Barry Rhodes said...

Wade,

Your logic is flawed when you say, "If Norman's ball MAY have been lost in water hazard, then it also MAY NOT have been, and thus, he should have been entitled to play a provisional ball."

Rule 27-2 states that you may only play a provisional ball if a ball may be lost outside a water hazard or may be out of bounds. In the Greg Norman incident it was ruled that if his ball was not in the water hazard then the ball would either have been found in the bunker or on the fairway in front of the water hazard. There was no rough, bushes, trees etc. where it could have been lost and so he was not entitled to play a provisional ball.

This is a concept that is misunderstood by many golfers. I recommend that now you have this explanation of the Norman incident you re-read my blog, with special attention to Decision 27-2a/2.

Barry

Wade Williams said...

Thanks for the clarification Barry. It wasn't clear to me that the situation of short grass all the way to the water hazard also applied to the Greg Norman case.

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,

Interested in your view on this. In a friends fourball in an unfamiliar course I hit a ball to the left and lost sight of ball over mound. I played a provisional. When we went over mound there was a large water hazard and all four agreed that the ball had gone into the hazard ( as well as my Provo.) I couldn't see it but it was clearly in hazard. What shot should I be taking 3 or 5 or other ?

Thanks

Freddy

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

You were entitled to play a provisional ball from the teeing ground because at that time it was not known or virtually certain that you ball was out of bounds or lost outside of a water hazard. However, when it became obvious that your original ball had come to rest inside a water hazard the provisional ball had to be abandoned and play continued with the original ball. If this was not found then you had to take one of the relief options under Rule 26-1 under penalty of one stroke. So, your next stroke would have been your 3rd.

Barry