Friday, October 4, 2013

Ask Linda #729-Multiple provisionals

Hello Linda - can you help with this?

Rule 27

Player A hits tee shot into fairway
Player B hits tee shot towards OB on right side of fairway - no one is sure that tee ball is OB
Player C hits tee shot into fairway

Player B announces he will hit a provisional ball and does so. This time, it is without a doubt by anyone that the provisional ball is OB. It cleared the tree line, the houses and is likely two city blocks.
Player B announces he will hit another provisional ball and does so. This time, the ball is in the fairway and playable. As we move up the fairway, the first ball from the tee box by Player B is found to be in bounds and playable. He then plays that ball - laying one and hitting two. The 2nd provisional ball is picked up and we finish out the hole. 1st provisional ball is long gone.

I question this and am told that this is allowed. I read Rule 27 as provisional BALL not BALLS. My take on this is that the first ball from tee box is not in play, as the second provisional ball would take it out of play. As we discuss it - I am concerned that a player could use this tactic as a way to get in some practice swings on the 1st tee to warm up. Hit a ball towards OB, then pound provisional balls directly OB until warm and then put one in the fairway. If the first ball is found, all is good. Player is warmed up and laying one. If first ball is OB, still good. Player warmed up and laying 3.

Any help?
Lou from Uruguay

Dear Lou,

When a player hits a provisional ball that may be out of bounds, he is entitled (and encouraged) to hit a second provisional ball. He may continue hitting provisional balls until one of them is clearly on the course [Rule 27-2a, Note].

Player B has proceeded correctly. His first ball may be out of bounds, so he hits a provisional ball. The provisional is clearly out of bounds, so he hits a second provisional ball. The second provisional lands in the fairway, so he has completed his provisional obligations. If he finds the original ball in bounds (which he did), he continues with that ball, incurring no penalties.

Subsequent provisional balls do not render the original ball out of play. If this player had not found his original ball, the second provisional would be his ball in play, since the first provisional landed out of bounds. The player would lie 5.

The example you use of a player pounding a number of provisional balls out of bounds would mean that if the player didn’t find his original, the provisional that landed in the fairway would lie 5, 7, 9, or more, and not 3 as you suggest.

The provisional ball Rule does not anticipate that the player will use the tee as a driving range. If that is the case, the player may be guilty of undue delay, for which the penalty is two strokes/loss of hole [Rule 6-7].

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