Lost Ball / Hitting a Provisional
You and your friends are playing a round of golf. One of the players hits his second shot into the woods to the right of the fairway. Although the thicket is dense, he believes he can find it so he does not hit a provisional ball. Unfortunately, when he gets to the spot where the ball entered the woods, it is nowhere to be found. You all spend five minutes (that’s the limit allowed) looking but to no avail. There are people on the tee behind you, waiting for your foursome to continue play. What do you do?
- The player who lost his ball in the woods declares the ball lost and he must return to the spot from which he hit his second shot and play a second ball. (One stroke penalty.)
- The player declares the first ball lost, drops a ball at the point where his ball entered the woods and continues play. (One stroke penalty.)
The official answer is #1. However, in a friendly game of golf without money on the line and with players waiting on the tee behind, many players will choose #2 just to move the game along. But it is not the official rule. If this were a tournament #1 would have to be enforced.
Lesson to Learn: When in any doubt, always play a provisional ball. If you do find the original ball you must play it and the provisional goes back in your pocket, but if you don’t find the original ball, you’ve saved everyone a lot of time and play continues with the provisional ball becoming your ball in play.