Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ask Linda #1005-Drop and hit outside hazard before search

Hi Linda,

Our little nine hole course is in the middle of heavy bush/scrub where we live in NZ. Many of the edges of the fairways are deemed lateral hazard as the chances of finding a ball are not always good.
One of our short par fours is basically like playing down a corridor with bush on both sides and it is not uncommon to have balls go "bush".

We often walk to the spot where the ball crossed the margin, drop a ball and play it as a provisional before walking into the bush for a quick look as occasionally you will find it and sometimes might even have a shot. I'm thinking that we actually should be playing the provisional from the tee? That if we play from where we cross the margin it isn't a provisional and that to do that we need to declare the ball lost and play the normal options for lost ball? I know this sounds obvious but we've been doing this so long it's become ingrained.

Thank you again for your help.
Lou from New Zealand

Dear Lou,

My problem with your question is that it is not permitted to label an area a lateral hazard if it is not, indeed, a lateral hazard. However, I understand that I am not going to convince you or anyone at the course to remove the hazard stakes and treat it as rough. I will therefore answer your question, pretending that it relates to an actual lateral hazard.

There is no reason to hit a provisional for a ball in a lateral hazard if you plan to drop within two club-lengths of the spot where it last crossed the margin of the hazard. You should proceed to that spot and take a quick look for your ball (or not, as you prefer). If you find the ball, and it is playable, carry on. If it is unplayable, or you do not find it, drop a ball within two club-lengths of where it last crossed the margin, no closer to the hole. 

If you drop and hit before you search for your ball, it is not a provisional (as you suggest); it is in play and your original ball is “lost” under the Rules. Once you drop a ball and hit it you have given up your opportunity to hit your ball out of the hazard.

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