A question that I received last week raises a few issues on the Rules;
“One of the members of our group hit a ball off the tee and his ball veered sharply into the trees on the right. At the rear of these trees is a lake that has red stakes approximately four meters in front of the water. Thinking that the ball may be lost, or had entered the water hazard, the player then chose to hit a provisional ball, which he sent down the middle of the fairway. He immediately declared his first ball lost and designated his provisional ball as his ball in play. Was this a correct procedure or was he obliged to look for the first ball for up to 5 minutes? Also, if he had not played a provisional ball and could not find his ball in the woods, could he assume that it was in the hazard and drop another ball for a penalty of one stroke, or would it be necessary for some of us to have seen that the ball entering the margin of the hazard or indeed the lake?"Here are some of the issues raised by the above scenario; why not test your knowledge of the Rules by comparing your answers with mine, which are below?
- May you play a provisional ball if it is likely that your original ball is in a (lateral) water hazard?
- May you declare that your ball is lost and therefore abandon it in favour of your provisional ball?
- May you choose not to search for your original ball if you would rather play your provisional ball?
- If you cannot find your original ball in these circumstances may you assume that it must be lost in a water hazard and take relief from the hazard under Rule 26-1?
- May you play a provisional ball if you find your original ball unplayable inside a water hazard?
- Yes, even though it is likely that the original ball is in a water hazard, a player is entitled to play a provisional ball if it might also be lost outside of the water hazard, or might be out of bounds (Decision 27-2a/2.2).
- No a player may not declare their ball lost. Click on this previous blog link of mine for a full explanation.
- Yes, a player does not have to search for their ball if it is not visible and they choose not to play it. However, if someone finds a ball that is believed to be the player’s original ball before they have played their provisional ball from a point nearer to the hole than where it is thought that the original ball may be, then the player must identify it and if it is their original ball must continue play with it (Decision 27-2c/2). In stroke play, it is considered good etiquette for a fellow competitor not to search for a ball that the player wishes to abandon, but in match play an opponent may choose to search for it if they consider that it is to their advantage to find it.
- No, unless it is known or virtually certain that the ball is lost in a water hazard the player must treat the ball as lost outside of the hazard and must proceed under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 27-1).
- No, the player must abandon the provisional ball and continue play with the original ball (Rule 27-2c). They must either play the ball from the hazard or take one of the options for taking relief from a water hazard as in Rule 26-1.
The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2012 and may not be copied without permission.