Friday, December 5, 2014

Ask Linda #960-Play provisional after original found?

Hi Linda,

Last Saturday, we were playing stroke play and one of my fellow competitors hit a slice shot.
We supposed that his ball could be OB or lost, so the player took a provisional ball and he played it.
We finally found the first ball, but it was really unplayable, so the player declared it unplayable.

The question is: One of the options when the ball is unplayable is to return to the point, with penalty and distance. May the player go on playing the provisional ball? 

I think this is impossible by the rules, but in order to keep the pace of play could be the best.

Thank you!
Lou from Argentina

Dear Lou,

Once the player finds the original ball, and it is not out of bounds, he must abandon the provisional [Rule 27-2c]. If he decides to invoke the stroke-and-distance option for an unplayable ball [Rule 28a], he must return to where he hit his previous shot. There is no option, under the Rules, to continue play with a provisional ball if the original ball is found on the course.

I understand and respect your thinking that continuing play with the provisional ball would make sense with respect to pace of play. I am going to go off-book here and suggest that if you are walking, playing a casual round with friends, and the course is busy, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to continue play with that provisional ball. Just be forewarned that players who do not play by the Rules can become so accustomed to the wrong procedure that they proceed incorrectly when the game is “official.” In the scenario you describe, the player would be disqualified for continuing play with the provisional ball if he didn’t correct the problem before teeing off on the next hole. At the very least, he would be penalized two strokes for hitting a wrong ball.

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