Monday, January 13, 2014

Ask Linda #775-Unplayable procedure

Dear Linda,

On Sunday, during a medal play tournament, from off the tee I hit my first ball to the right and into an area with very high fescue grass. Fearing it to be lost, I played a provisional ball, which I also pushed to the right into the same area.

When I arrived at this area, I found both of my golf balls. However, my first ball was in a terrible lie. I played my first ball with disastrous results (it took me three strokes to get out of the fescue).

In retrospect, had I declared my first ball to be “unplayable,” would I have been permitted to hit a third ball from the tee (at which point I would be lying 3) in the hope that this time I would find the fairway, or would I have been obligated to play my provisional ball?

Thank you.
Lou from Toronto, Canada 

Dear Lou,

Not only are you not obligated to play your provisional ball, you are not permitted to play it!

Since you found your original ball, you must continue play with it. The provisional goes back into your golf bag – its job is over. (Remember that the purpose of hitting the provisional was to save time, in case you could not find your original within five minutes of beginning your search.)

If you decide to declare your original ball unplayable, all of the options in Rule 28 are available to you, under penalty of one stroke. Playing another ball from the tee (known as “stroke and distance”) is one of those options. The second shot from the tee would be your third stroke on the hole. Do not count any strokes made with the provisional ball.

Declaring your original ball unplayable would clearly have been the wiser choice.

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