Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ask Linda #691-Provisionals and water hazards

Hi Linda,

On my course we have a par 3 that requires crossing two lakes with the greenside edge of the hazard having long reeds.

If a player is not sure that their ball has cleared the reeds can they hit a provisional? My understanding is that once they hit another shot that that ball is then in play irrespective of whether they discover the first ball on arriving at the green side.

Should they clarify the status of the first shot, i.e., whether it lies in the hazard or not, before deciding to hit a second shot?

Many Thanks,

Dear Lou,

A player is permitted (and encouraged!) to hit a provisional ball if his ball may be lost outside a water hazard [Rule 27-2a]. He must hit the provisional before he goes forward to search for the original.

The correct procedure for your Par 3 would be as follows:

1. Player hits tee shot that may or may not have cleared the reeds.
2. Player announces: “I am going to hit a provisional, because I am uncertain whether my ball is in the hazard.”
3. Player waits until everyone in his group has hit his tee shot, and then hits his provisional ball.
4. Player goes forward to search.
    a. If he finds his ball outside the hazard, he will continue play with the original ball and abandon the provisional.
    b. If the original ball is lost outside the hazard, he will continue play with the provisional ball.
    c. If the original ball is in the hazard, he will abandon the provisional and either play the ball from the hazard or choose one of the relief options in Rule 26-1 for a ball in a hazard.

However, there is a better option for playing this hole provided by a Local Rule. Ask your Committee to consider adopting Local Rule #1 in Appendix I, Part B, in the back of the rulebook. I wrote a detailed explanation of this Rule on the blog on October 15, 2011. Here is the link:

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