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BALL LOST OR OUT OF BOUNDS AND PROVISIONAL BALL: GENERAL

27/1

Player Directs Caddie Not to Search for His Ball Until Others Can Assist

Q.A hits a long drive into heavy rough. B hits a short drive into heavy rough. A's caddie starts walking towards the area where A's ball may be to search for A's ball. Everyone else, including A, walks towards the area where B's ball may be to look for B's ball. A directs his caddie also to look for B's ball and delay search for his (A's) ball until everyone else can assist. Is such procedure permitted?

A.Yes.

27/1.5

Time Permitted for Search for Lost Ball if Play Suspended During Search

Q.A player has been searching for his ball for three minutes when play is suspended. How much time is he allowed for further search?

A.The player may continue searching for two more minutes. The suspension of play has no effect on the five-minute search period. Thus, even if the player searches for his ball during the suspension of play, he is still only permitted a total of five minutes to search for his ball.

27/2

Time Permitted for Search for Lost Ball After Wrong Ball Played

Q.In stroke play, a competitor searches for his ball for three minutes, finds a ball, plays it and then discovers he has played a wrong ball. He returns to the area from which the wrong ball was played and resumes search for his ball. How much time is he allowed for further search – two minutes or five minutes?

A.Two minutes – see Definition of "Lost Ball."

27/3

Time Permitted for Search When Lost Ball Found and Then Lost Again

Q.A player finds his ball in high rough after a two-minute search, leaves the area to get a club and, when he returns, is unable to find the ball. Is he allowed three minutes or five minutes to find his ball?

A.Three minutes.

27/4

Time Permitted for Search for Original Ball and Provisional Ball

Q.Is a player allowed five minutes to search for his original ball and five more minutes to search for his provisional ball, or just a total of five minutes?

A.If the two balls are so close together that, in effect, both balls would be searched for simultaneously, a total of five minutes for search is allowed. Otherwise, the player is allowed to search five minutes for each ball.

27/5

Player Searching for Ball Mistakes His Ball for Opponent's

Q.In a match, A begins to search for his ball and after two minutes finds a ball which he believes to be his opponent's ball and resumes his search. The five-minute search period elapses and thereafter it is discovered that the ball which he found and believed to be his opponent's was in fact his ball. What is the ruling?

A.Once a ball has been found a player has an opportunity to identify it as his. In this case, the player had every opportunity to identify the ball as his within the five-minute search period and failed to do so. Therefore, the ball is, by definition, "lost."

27/5.5

Original Ball Found Within Five-Minute Search Period Not Identified Until After Period Has Elapsed

Q.A player plays a second shot, searches for his ball for just over four minutes and then starts to walk back down the fairway to play another ball under Rule 27-1. A ball is then found within the five-minute search period, but as the player is now a considerable distance away, he is unable to identify the ball as his before the search period has elapsed. What is the ruling?

A.As a ball was found within five minutes of beginning search, the player is allowed enough time to reach the area in order to identify it. If the player identifies the ball as his, it is not a "lost ball" even though the identification takes place after the five-minute search period has elapsed.

27/6

Player Unable to Find His Ball Because Another Player Played It

Q.A and B hit their tee shots into the same general area. A found a ball and played it. B went forward to look for his ball and could not find it. After a few minutes, B started back to the tee to put another ball into play. On the way, he found A's ball and knew then that A had played his (B's) ball in error. What is the ruling?

A.In match play, A lost the hole (Rule 15-3a).

In stroke play, A incurred a penalty of two strokes for playing a wrong ball and must then play his own ball (Rule 15-3b). A's ball was not lost even if A and B had been searching for more than five minutes because A had not "begun to search for it (his ball)"; the searching had been for B's ball – see Definition of "Lost Ball."

On the other hand, B began to search for his ball as soon as he went forward to look for it. If less than five minutes had elapsed before B found A's ball, B should have placed a ball on the spot from which A had wrongly played his (B's) ball and continued play, without penalty – see last paragraph of Rule 15-3b. However, if five minutes had expired, B's original ball was lost and he was obliged to put another ball into play under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 27-1).

Related Decision:

15-3b/1 Competitor Plays Wrong Ball and Loses It; Wrong Ball May Have Been Fellow-Competitor's Ball.

27/7

Ball Found in Burrowing Animal Hole After Five-Minute Search

Q.A player's tee shot comes to rest in an area containing heavy rough and a large burrowing animal hole. After a search of five minutes, the players in the group determine that it is neither known nor virtually certain that the ball is in the burrowing animal hole. The player returns to the tee to put another ball into play under Rule 27-1. As the player is returning to the tee, the ball is found in the burrowing animal hole. May the player now proceed under Rule 25-1?

A.No. When five minutes elapsed and it was neither known nor virtually certain that the ball was in the burrowing animal hole, the ball was lost and Rule 27-1 was applicable.

27/8

Ball Found After Search Exceeding Five Minutes Is Then Played

Q.A player searches for his ball for five minutes and does not find it. He continues to search, finds his ball and plays it. What is the ruling?

A.The ball was lost and therefore out of play when the five-minute period allowed for search expired – see Definitions of "Ball in Play" and "Lost Ball." When the player played a stroke with the ball out of play, he played a wrong ball – see Definition of "Wrong Ball" – and incurred a penalty of loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play – Rule 15-3. In stroke play, he was disqualified if he did not correct the error by proceeding under Rule 27-1 before playing from the next tee – Rule 15-3b.

Related Decisions:

15/5 Original Ball Found and Played After Another Ball Put into Play.

27-1/2.3 Original Ball Found Within Five-Minute Search Period After Another Ball Dropped; Original Ball Played.

27-2b/5 Original Ball Played After Provisional Ball Played from Point Nearer Hole Than Original Ball Is Likely to Be.

27/9

Player Searches for Lost Ball After Putting Another Ball into Play

Q.According to Rule 27, if a player hits his tee shot into the woods and tees up and plays another ball without announcing it is a provisional ball, the second ball becomes the ball in play and the original ball is lost. In such a case, is the player precluded from searching for his original ball?

A.No. But the player must not play the ball if he finds it and must not unduly delay play. (Revised)

27/10

Player Unable to Distinguish His Ball from Another Ball

Q.A and B hit their tee shots into the same area. Both balls were found but, because A and B were playing identical balls and neither had put an identification mark on his ball, they could not determine which ball was A's and which was B's. What is the ruling?

A.Since neither player could identify a ball as his ball, both balls were lost – see Definition of "Lost Ball."

This incident underlines the advisability of the player putting an identification mark on his ball – see Rules 6-5 and 12-2.

27/11

Provisional Ball Not Distinguishable from Original Ball

A player entitled to play a provisional ball from the tee plays it into the same area as his original ball. The balls have identical markings and the player cannot distinguish between them. Following are various situations and the solutions, which are based on equity (Rule 1-4), when the above circumstances exist and one or both of the balls are found within a search of five minutes:

Situation 1:One ball is found in a water hazard and the other ball is not found.

Solution 1:The ball that was found must be presumed to be the provisional ball.

Situation 2:Both balls are found in a water hazard.

Solution 2:As the player's original ball is lost in the water hazard due to his inability to identify it (see analogous Decision 27/10), the player must proceed under Rule 26-1 with respect to the original ball (estimating the spot where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard, if necessary – see Decision 26-1/17); his next stroke would be his third.

Situation 3:One ball is found in bounds and the other ball is lost or is found out of bounds.

Solution 3:The ball in bounds must be presumed to be the provisional ball.

Situation 4:Both balls are found in bounds, whether in a playable or an unplayable lie, and (1) one ball is in a water hazard and the other is not or (2) both balls lie through the green or in a bunker.

Solution 4:One could argue that both balls are lost. However, it would be inequitable to require the player to return to the tee, playing 5, when the player has found both balls but does not know which is the original and which the provisional. Accordingly, the player must select one of the balls, treat it as his provisional ball and abandon the other.

27/12

Identification of Ball Through Testimony of Spectator

Q.A's ball and B's ball came to rest close together. Neither A nor B could identify one of the balls as his ball because they were using balls with identical markings.

A spectator who saw both shots land was able to state which ball belonged to A and which one belonged to B. May his testimony be accepted, or should both balls be deemed lost because they could not be identified by A and B?

A.If the Committee determined that, based on information given by the spectator, A and B were able to identify their balls, the balls should not be deemed lost. Otherwise, they would have to proceed under Rule 27-1.

Decision related to 27/10 through 27/12:

12-2/1 Identifying Ball by Brand, Model and Number Only.

27/13

Refusal to Identify Ball

Q.A player purposely refuses to identify a ball as his. What can the opponent or a fellow-competitor do in such a case?

A.An opponent or fellow-competitor has the right to be satisfied about the identification of a player's ball.

If a player has dishonestly not identified his ball, the opponent or fellow-competitor may refer the dispute to the Committee (Rule 34-3). In such a case, the Committee would be justified in imposing a penalty of disqualification under Rule 33-7.

Related Decisions:

27-2/2 Member of Committee Finds Player's Original Ball; Player Prefers to Continue with Provisional Ball.

27-2b/1 Continuation of Play with Provisional Ball Without Searching for Original Ball.

27-2c/2 Ball Believed to Be Original Found; Player Wishes to Ignore It and Continue Play with Provisional Ball.

27/14

Ball in Tree Identified But Not Retrieved

Q.A player's ball is lodged high in a tree. He identifies it with the aid of binoculars but is unable to retrieve it. Is the ball lost, in which case the player must invoke Rule 27-1?

A.No. Since the ball was identified, it was not lost – see Definition of "Lost Ball." The player may invoke the unplayable ball Rule (Rule 28).

27/15

Ball in Tree Visible But Not Identifiable

Q.A player is certain that his ball is lodged high in a tree. He can see a ball in the tree, but he cannot identify it as his ball. Is the player's ball lost, in which case he must proceed under Rule 27-1?

A.Yes.

27/16

Ball Declared Lost Is Found Before Another Ball Put into Play

Q.A player searched for his ball for two minutes, declared it lost and started back to play another ball at the spot from which the original ball was played. Before he put another ball into play, his original ball was found within the five-minute period allowed for search. What is the ruling?

A.A player cannot render a ball lost by a declaration – see Definition of "Lost Ball." The original ball remained in play – see Definition of "Ball in Play."

27/17

Competitor Plays Out of Turn Other Than from Teeing Ground and Puts Another Ball into Play at Spot of Previous Stroke

Q.In stroke play, a competitor whose ball lay through the green played out of turn. He should have continued play with the ball played out of turn without penalty, but he mistakenly believed he needed to cancel and replay the stroke in the correct order. The competitor dropped another ball at the spot from which he made that stroke, but his action was questioned before he played the dropped ball. What is the ruling?

A.As the dropped ball was not dropped with the intention of putting it into play under penalty of stroke and distance, part c of the Definition of "Lost Ball" does not apply and, therefore, the original ball was not lost. As the competitor had put a ball into play under an inapplicable Rule but not played it, Rule 20-6 applies, and the player may correct his error by continuing play with the original ball, without penalty.

Had the competitor played the dropped ball, he would have been considered to have played under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 27-1a) and the original ball would be lost.

Related Decisions:

27-1/2 Original Ball Found Within Five-Minute Search Period After Another Ball Dropped.

Other related Decisions – See "Inapplicable Rule or Procedure Used" in the Index.

27/18

Gate in Boundary Fence

Q.A gate in a boundary fence swings onto the course. Sometimes the gate is open and sometimes it is closed. If the gate is open, may a player close it if it interferes with his swing?

A.A gate in a boundary fence, when closed, is part of the boundary fence, is not an obstruction (see Definition of "Obstructions") and may not be moved. A gate in a boundary fence, if open, is not covered by the Rules. In equity (Rule 1-4), a player who finds a gate in a boundary fence open may leave it as he finds it or close it, but he must not move it to any other position.

Related Decisions:

13-2/18 Improving Position of Ball by Bending Boundary Fence.

24/4 Part of Boundary Fence Within Boundary Line.

27/19

When Ball Inside Boundary Fence Is Out of Bounds

Q.In view of the Definition of "Out of Bounds," is it correct to say that, if the posts of a boundary fence are on the golf course side of the fence, the diameter of the posts is greater than the diameter of a golf ball and the fence is straight, a ball lying against the inside of the fence would be out of bounds?

A.Yes.

Decisions related to 27/18 and 27/19:

See "Boundary Fence, Line, Wall or Stakes; Wall" in the Index.

27/20

Public Road Defined as Out of Bounds Divides Course; Status of Ball Crossing Road

Q.A public road defined as out of bounds divides a course. A ball crosses the road and comes to rest on the part of the course on the other side of the road. Is the ball out of bounds?

A.No. Since the ball lies on the course, it is in bounds unless a Local Rule provides otherwise. However, because it is unfair that a ball on the road is out of bounds and a ball beyond it is in bounds, it is suggested that the following Local Rule should be adopted:

"A ball which crosses a public road defined as out of bounds and comes to rest beyond that road is out of bounds, even though it may lie on another part of the course."

Related Decisions:

33-2a/12 Internal Boundary Between Holes.

33-2a/13 Tee Decreed to Be in Bounds for Tee Shot and Out of Bounds Thereafter.

33-2a/14 Internal Out of Bounds Applying to Stroke from Teeing Ground Only.

33-8/38 Local Rule Deeming Out of Bounds Ball Which Crosses Boundary But Comes to Rest on Course.

STROKE AND DISTANCE; BALL OUT OF BOUNDS; BALL NOT FOUND WITHIN FIVE MINUTES

27-1/1

Original Ball Found Within Five-Minute Search Period After Another Ball Teed

Q.A player plays from the teeing ground, searches briefly for his ball and then goes back and tees another ball. Before he plays the teed ball, and within the five-minute search period, the original ball is found. May the player abandon the teed ball and play the original ball?

A.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."

27-1/2

Original Ball Found Within Five-Minute Search Period After Another Ball Dropped

Q.A player plays his second shot, searches for his ball briefly and then goes back and drops another ball under Rule 27-1. Before he plays the dropped ball, and within the five-minute search period, the original ball is found. Is the player required to continue with the dropped ball?

A.Yes. When the player put the substituted ball into play at the spot of the previous stroke with the intent to play a ball under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 27-1), the original ball was lost (see Definition of "Lost Ball"). Therefore, Rule 20-6 does not apply, and he must continue with the substituted ball.

Related Decision:

27/17 Competitor Plays Out of Turn Other Than From Teeing Ground and Puts Another Ball into Play at Spot of Previous Stroke.

27-1/2.3

Original Ball Found Within Five-Minute Search Period After Another Ball Dropped; Original Ball Played

Q.In Decision 27-1/2, the player was required to proceed with the dropped ball. What would be the ruling if the player continues play with the original ball?

A.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.

Related Decisions:

15/5 Original Ball Found and Played After Another Ball Put into Play.

27/8 Ball Found After Search Exceeding Five Minutes Is Then Played.

27-2b/5 Original Ball Played After Provisional Ball Played from Point Nearer Hole Than Original Ball Is Likely to Be.

27-1/2.5

Lost Ball Treated as Moved by Outside Agency in Absence of Knowledge or Virtual Certainty to That Effect

Q.A player who is unable to find his ball treats it as moved by an outside agency, rather than lost, in the absence of knowledge or virtual certainty to that effect. Accordingly, he drops a ball where he thinks his original ball came to rest (Rule 18-1) and plays it, rather than taking the stroke-and-distance penalty for a lost ball (Rule 27-1). What is the ruling?

A.In the absence of knowledge or virtual certainty that the ball had been moved by an outside agency, the player was required to put another ball into play under Rule 27-1. In playing the ball dropped under Rule 18-1, the player played from a wrong place.

In match play, he incurred a penalty of loss of hole (Rule 20-7b).

In stroke play, he incurred the stroke-and-distance penalty prescribed by Rule 27-1 and an additional penalty of two strokes for a breach of that Rule (Rule 20-7c). Because the breach was a serious one, he was subject to disqualification unless he corrected the error as provided in the second paragraph of Rule 20-7c.

Related Decision:

25-1c/2 Ball Dropped and Played Under Ground Under Repair Rule in Absence of Knowledge or Virtual Certainty That Original Ball in Ground Under Repair.

27-1/3

Ball Dropped in Area Where Original Ball Lost; Ball Then Played

Q.A player, unable to find his ball, drops another ball in the area where his original ball was lost and plays that ball. What is the ruling?

A.In match play, the player loses the hole – Rule 20-7b.

In stroke play, the player incurs the stroke-and-distance penalty prescribed by Rule 27-1 and an additional penalty of two strokes for a breach of that Rule. If the breach was a serious one, he must rectify the error as provided in the second paragraph of Rule 20-7c; otherwise, he is disqualified.

PROVISIONAL BALL: GENERAL

27-2/1

Provisional Ball Serving as Ball in Play If Original Ball Unplayable or in Water Hazard

Q.May a player announce that a second ball he is going to play is both (a) a provisional ball in case the original ball is lost outside a water hazard or out of bounds and (b) the ball in play in case the original ball is unplayable or in a water hazard?

A.No.

27-2/2

Member of Committee Finds Player's Original Ball; Player Prefers to Continue with Provisional Ball

Q.Is a member of a Committee or a forecaddie obliged to inform a player that his original ball has been found, even if it is clear that the player does not plan to search for it because he would prefer to continue play with the provisional ball he has played?

A.Yes.

Related Decisions:

27/13 Refusal to Identify Ball.

27-2b/1 Continuation of Play with Provisional Ball Without Searching for Original Ball.

27-2c/2 Ball Believed to Be Original Found; Player Wishes to Ignore It and Continue Play with Provisional Ball.

PROVISIONAL BALL: PROCEDURE

27-2a/1

Announcement of Provisional Ball

Q.A player hits his ball into an area where it may be lost outside a water hazard or out of bounds. The player then drops another ball and plays it. The player intends the dropped ball to be a provisional ball, but he does not inform his opponent, marker or fellow-competitor that he is "playing a provisional ball." In such a situation, can a player's actions constitute announcement that he is playing a provisional ball?

A.No. Rule 27-2a specifically provides that the player must inform his opponent, marker or a fellow-competitor that he intends to play a provisional ball.

The player's statement must specifically mention the words "provisional ball" or must make it clear that he is proceeding under Rule 27-2a. Therefore, a player who says nothing has put another ball into play.

The following are examples of statements that do not satisfy the requirement of announcing a provisional ball:

(a) "That might be lost. I am going to re-load."

(b) "That might be out of here."

(c) "I'd better hit another one."

(d) "I will never find that one. I'll play another."

27-2a/1.3

Player Intends to Play Provisional Ball But No One Present to Hear Announcement

Q.In stroke play, A hits his tee shot into the trees. After a search of five minutes, he does not find his ball and returns to the tee to play a second ball under Rule 27-1c. He hits the second tee shot into the trees as well. He intends to play a provisional ball, but his two fellow-competitors are well down the fairway and unable to hear an announcement from A of his intention. How should he proceed?

A.Rule 27-2a does not contemplate the absence of an opponent, marker or fellow-competitor when the player intends to play a provisional ball. In this case, in the interest of not delaying play A is considered to have fulfilled the announcement requirements of Rule 27-2a if he informs his marker or fellow-competitor as soon as practicable that he has played a provisional ball.

27-2a/1.5

Meaning of "Goes Forward to Search"

Q.Under Rule 27-2a, when is a player considered to have gone forward to search for the original ball such that a provisional ball cannot be played?

A.A player will be considered to have gone forward to search when he has proceeded more than a short distance towards the place where his original ball is likely to be. As the purpose of Rule 27-2a is to save time, the player is permitted to go forward a short distance before determining that it would save time to return promptly to play a provisional ball. As a guideline, a player should be considered to have proceeded more than a short distance, and therefore to have gone forward to search, if he has proceeded more than approximately 50 yards. However, this guideline does not preclude a player from playing a provisional ball when he has proceeded more than a short distance for another specific purpose, such as to retrieve a ball or a different club to play a provisional ball, or to confer with a referee. (Revised)

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.Is it true that, if a player's original ball may have come to rest in a water hazard, the player is 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.

27-2a/2.5

Player Plays Provisional Ball in Belief Original Might Be Lost Outside Water Hazard Then Discovers There Is No Possibility of Its Being Lost Outside Water Hazard

Q.A player's tee shot is struck towards an area of trees, bushes and tall grass. Believing his ball might be lost outside a water hazard, the player announces his intention to play a provisional ball and plays a ball from the tee. When he arrives at the area, he finds that the area in question is wetlands that has been defined as a lateral water hazard and that it is known or virtually certain that his ball is in it. What is the ruling?

A.As the player played the second ball from the tee in the belief that his original ball might be lost outside a water hazard, that ball was a provisional ball. The subsequent discovery that the area in question is in fact a lateral water hazard is irrelevant. Therefore, the player must abandon the provisional ball and proceed under Rule 26-1 – see Rule 27-2c.

27-2a/3

Play of Provisional Ball in Absence of Reasonable Possibility Original Ball Is Lost or Out of Bounds

Q.In the absence of reasonable possibility that a ball is lost outside a water hazard or is out of bounds, may the player play a provisional ball?

A.No. If a player plays a ball under such circumstances, the ball is not a provisional ball but the ball in play – see Decision 27-2a/2.

Related Decisions:

26-1/1 Meaning of "Known or Virtually Certain."

26-1/1.3 When is it Necessary to Go Forward to Establish "Virtual Certainty"?

27-2a/4

Three Balls Played from Same Spot; Only Second Ball Was Provisional Ball

Q.A player, believing his tee shot might be lost or out of bounds, plays a provisional ball. His provisional ball is struck in the same direction as the original ball and, without any announcement, he plays another ball from the tee. This ball comes to rest on the fairway. What is the ruling?

A.If the original ball is not lost or out of bounds, the player must continue play with that ball without penalty.

If the original ball is lost or out of bounds, the player must continue play with the third ball played from the tee as, when this ball was played without any announcement, it rendered the provisional ball lost, regardless of the provisional ball's location. The player would lie 5 with the third ball played from the tee.

In both situations, the third ball bears a relationship only to the previous ball played, i.e., the provisional ball.

WHEN PROVISIONAL BALL BECOMES BALL IN PLAY

27-2b/1

Continuation of Play with Provisional Ball Without Searching for Original Ball

Q.At a par-3 hole, a player hits his tee shot into dense woods. He then hits a provisional ball which comes to rest near the hole. In view of the position of the provisional ball, the player does not wish to find his original ball. He does not search for it and walks directly towards his provisional ball to continue play with it. His opponent (or fellow-competitor) believes it would be beneficial to him if the original ball were found. May the opponent (or fellow-competitor) search for the player's ball?

A.Yes. In equity (Rule 1-4), he may search for five minutes provided that in the meantime the player does not play a stroke with the provisional ball, it being nearer the hole than the place where the original ball is likely to be. The player is entitled to play such a stroke. If he does, the original ball is then lost under Rule 27-2b and further search for it would serve no purpose. In match play, if the player so proceeds and his provisional ball is closer to the hole than his opponent's ball, his opponent may recall the stroke (Rule 10-1c). However, recalling the stroke would not change the status of the original ball, which was lost when the provisional ball was played out of turn. See also Decision 27-2c/2.

Related Decisions:

27/13 Refusal to Identify Ball.

27-2/2 Member of Committee Finds Player's Original Ball; Player Prefers to Continue with Provisional Ball.

27-2c/2 Ball Believed to Be Original Found; Player Wishes to Ignore It and Continue Play with Provisional Ball.

27-2b/2

When Provisional Ball Holed Becomes Ball in Play

Q.At a short hole, A's tee shot may be out of bounds or lost, so he plays a provisional ball, which he holes. A does not wish to look for his original ball. B, A's opponent or a fellow-competitor, goes to look for the original ball. When does the provisional ball become the ball in play?

A.In equity (Rule 1-4) the provisional ball becomes the ball in play as soon as A picks it out of the hole, provided his original ball has not already been found in bounds within five minutes of B starting to search for it.

27-2b/3

Original Ball Is Beyond Provisional Ball; Player Searches Briefly for Original Ball, Plays Provisional Ball and Then Finds Original Ball

Q.A player's provisional ball comes to rest short of where the original ball is likely to be. After a two-minute search for the original ball, the player goes back, plays a second stroke with the provisional ball and then his original ball is found within the five-minute time limit. What is the ruling?

A.The player must continue play with the original ball. Play of a provisional ball does not render the original ball lost until it has been played from the place where the original ball is likely to be or from a point nearer the hole than that place (Rule 27-2b).

27-2b/4

Provisional Ball Played from Beyond Where Original Ball Likely to Be But Not Beyond Where Original Ball Found

Q.A player, believing his tee shot might be lost or in a road defined as out of bounds, played a provisional ball. He searched for his original ball but did not find it. He went forward and played his provisional ball. Then he went farther forward and found his original ball in bounds. The original ball must have bounced down the road and then come back into bounds, because it was found much farther from the tee than anticipated. Was the original ball still the ball in play?

A.No. The player played a stroke with the provisional ball from a point nearer the hole than the place where the original ball was likely to be. When he did so, the provisional ball became the ball in play and the original ball was lost (Rule 27-2b).

The place where the original ball in fact lay was irrelevant.

27-2b/5

Original Ball Played After Provisional Ball Played from Point Nearer Hole Than Original Ball Is Likely to Be

Q.A player, unable to find his original ball, goes forward and makes a second stroke with his provisional ball from a point nearer the hole than the place where the original ball is likely to be. His original ball is then found and he plays it. What is the ruling?

A.When the player made his second stroke with the provisional ball, the original ball was lost and the provisional ball was in play – Rule 27-2b. In making a stroke with a ball that was no longer in play (the original ball), the player played a wrong ball – see Definition of "Wrong Ball" – and was subject to penalty as prescribed in Rule 15-3.

Related Decisions:

15/5 Original Ball Found and Played After Another Ball Put into Play.

27/8 Ball Found After Search Exceeding Five Minutes Is Then Played.

27-1/2.3 Original Ball Found Within Five-Minute Search Period After Another Ball Dropped; Original Ball Played.

27-2b/6

Player Abandons Original Ball and Walks Forward to Play Provisional Ball; Original Ball Then Found

Q.A player, having searched for a minute for his original ball, abandoned it and walked forward to continue play with his provisional ball. Before he played the provisional ball, some spectators found the original ball before the five-minute search period expired. What is the ruling?

A.The original ball remained the ball in play since it was found within five minutes after search for it had begun and the player had not played a stroke with the provisional ball from the place where the original ball was likely to be or from a point nearer the hole than that place (Rule 27-2b).

27-2b/6.5

Player Deems Provisional Ball Unplayable and Drops Ball; Original Ball Then Found

Q.A player hits his tee shot into heavy rough approximately 150 yards from the teeing ground and, since his ball may be lost outside a water hazard, he plays a provisional ball. After searching briefly for his original ball he goes forward to play his provisional ball which is in a bush approximately 200 yards from the teeing ground. He deems his provisional ball unplayable and drops it within two club-lengths of where it lay under Rule 28c. Before playing the provisional ball, the player's original ball is found by a spectator within five minutes of the player having begun to search for it. What is the ruling?

A.The original ball remained the ball in play since it was found within five minutes after search for it had begun and the player had not played a stroke with the provisional ball (see Rule 27-2b). The fact that the player lifted and dropped the provisional ball under Rule 28c is irrelevant.

27-2b/7

Provisional Ball Played in Erroneous Belief It Is Original Ball

Q.A player, believing his original ball may be out of bounds, plays a provisional ball which comes to rest in the same area. He finds a ball which he believes is his original ball, plays it and then discovers that the ball he played was his provisional ball. What is the ruling?

A.If a player reaches the place where his original ball is likely to be and plays another stroke with a provisional ball, the provisional ball is in play and the original ball is lost (Rule 27-2b).

27-2b/8

Provisional Ball Lifted in Erroneous Belief Original Ball Is in Bounds

Q.A player, believing his original ball might be out of bounds, played a provisional ball which came to rest short of where the original ball came to rest. He walked forward, saw his original ball and, believing the original ball to be in bounds, picked up the provisional ball. He then discovered that the original ball was out of bounds. What is the ruling?

A.Since the original ball was out of bounds, the provisional ball was in play (Rule 27-2b). When the player lifted the ball in play (provisional ball) without authority under the Rules, he incurred a penalty stroke and was required to replace it (Rule 18-2a).

27-2b/9

Provisional Ball Lifted Subsequently Becomes Ball in Play

Q.In stroke play, a competitor, believing his tee shot might be lost, plays a provisional ball. He finds a ball he believes is his original ball, plays a stroke at it, picks up his provisional ball and then discovers that the ball he played was not his original ball, but rather a wrong ball. He resumes search for his original ball but cannot find it. What is the ruling?

A.The competitor lifted a ball which was to become the ball in play, i.e., the provisional ball – see Rule 27-2b. Accordingly, the competitor incurred a stroke-and-distance penalty under Rule 27-1 as a result of losing his original ball, a two-stroke penalty under Rule 15-3b for playing a wrong ball and a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2a for picking up his provisional ball. He is required to replace and play out the provisional ball. The competitor would be playing his seventh stroke.

27-2b/10

Provisional Ball Lifted Subsequently Becomes Ball in Play; Competitor Then Plays From Wrong Place

Q.With regard to Decision 27-2b/9, where a provisional ball that was lifted subsequently becomes the ball in play, what is the ruling if the competitor returns to the tee with the provisional ball and puts it into play again?

A.When the competitor played again from the tee rather than replacing and playing the provisional ball from where it was lifted, he put that ball into play under penalty of stroke and distance (see Rule 27-1a). However, the penalty of one stroke for the original lifting of the provisional ball in breach of Rule 18-2a still applies because, at the moment of lifting the provisional ball, the player had no intention of playing it again from the teeing ground. Therefore, the player would be playing his eighth stroke from the tee. (Revised)

Related Decisions:

10-2c/1 Ball Played Out of Turn from Tee Abandoned and Another Ball Played in Proper Order.

18-2a/1 Player Who Misses Tee Shot Tees Ball Lower Before Making Next Stroke.

18-2a/2 Ball Falling Off Tee When Stroke Just Touches It Is Picked Up and Re-Teed.

18-2a/11 Tee Shot Wrongly Thought to Be Out of Bounds Lifted; Competitor Plays Another Ball from Tee.

29-1/9 Both Player and Partner Drive at Same Tee in Foursome Play.

WHEN PROVISIONAL BALL TO BE ABANDONED

27-2c/1 (Reserved)

27-2c/1.5

Whether Provisional Ball Becomes Ball in Play If Original Ball Lost in Ground Under Repair

Q.A player hits his tee shot into an area of tall rough and, since the ball may be lost, he plays a provisional ball. During search for the original ball, the player discovers that the Committee has marked a large area of the rough as ground under repair. It is established that there is virtual certainty that the original ball is in the ground under repair. Does the provisional ball automatically become the ball in play since the original ball, which has not been found, was outside a water hazard?

A.No. The player may continue play with the provisional ball under Rule 27-2b or he may proceed under Rule 25-1c(i) as it is virtually certain that his ball is in ground under repair – see Exception to Rule 27-2b.

Related Decision:

25-1c/3 Ball Played in Ground Under Repair Area Lost in Same Area.

27-2c/2

Ball Believed to Be Original Found; Player Wishes to Ignore It and Continue Play with Provisional Ball

Q.At a par-3 hole, a player plays his tee shot into a heavy thicket. Since his ball may be lost, he hits a provisional ball that comes to rest near the hole. In the circumstances, it is advantageous to the player not to find his original ball. Accordingly, the player does not search for the original ball and walks directly toward his provisional ball. While the player is on his way to his provisional ball, a ball believed to be his original is found. The player is advised that his original ball may have been found. May the player ignore this ball and continue play with the provisional ball?

A.No. The player must inspect the ball that has been found and, if it is the player's original ball, he must continue play with it (or proceed under the unplayable ball Rule). The provisional ball must be abandoned – Rule 27-2c. See also Decision 27-2b/1.

Related Decisions:

27/13 Refusal to Identify Ball.

27-2/2 Member of Committee Finds Player's Original Ball; Player Prefers to Continue with Provisional Ball.

27-2b/1 Continuation of Play with Provisional Ball Without Searching for Original Ball

27-2c/3

Provisional Ball Played from Point Nearer Hole Than Original Ball Because Player Erroneously Thought Original Ball, Which Was Visible, Was Out of Bounds

Q.A player's ball came to rest 20 yards over a green and beyond a white stake which the player's caddie said was a boundary stake. The player played a provisional ball which came to rest short of the green, but closer to the hole than his original ball. The player played the provisional ball onto the green. At that point, he walked behind the green towards his original ball, which had been visible all along, and discovered that the white stake was not a boundary stake and that his original ball was in bounds. What is the ruling?

A.The player should have determined the status of his original ball before playing a second stroke with the provisional ball and, since the original ball was not out of bounds, he should have abandoned the provisional ball. When he failed to do so, the second stroke with the provisional ball was a stroke with a wrong ball – Rule 27-2c.

In match play, the player lost the hole (Rule 15-3a).

In stroke play, he incurred a two-stroke penalty (Rule 15-3b) and was required to hole out with the original ball.

27-2c/4

Original Ball and Provisional Ball Found Out of Bounds

Q.A player finds both his original ball and his provisional ball out of bounds. The balls were played from the tee. When the player returns to the tee and plays another ball, has he taken 3 strokes or 5?

A.The player will have taken 5 strokes when he plays the third ball from the tee. A stroke played with a provisional ball and any penalty related to it are not disregarded unless the provisional ball is abandoned as provided in Rule 27-2c.

Related Decisions:

15/7 Wrong Ball Played in Belief It Is Provisional or Second Ball.

20-7c/5 Competitor Plays Second Ball Under Rule 20-7c; Clarification of "Penalty Strokes Incurred Solely by Playing the Ball Ruled Not to Count."

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