Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Ask Linda #1040-Hit provisional, no search for original
I know you have covered lost ball in great detail but cannot find a definitive answer to the following, which happened recently at our club in a trophy match. One lady teed off and thought her ball had gone into the bushes. She decided to play a provisional ball. The players went forward and she hit the provisional ball again as she didn't want to look for her first ball, but the second lady told her she must look for her lost ball. She said she didn't have to and had decided to deem her provisional ball the ball in play. Her partner said that as she had declared the second ball "provisional" she would have to look for the first one.
As this is something which is not an uncommon, I would like to know who was right.
Lulu from Kent, England
The player was right. There is no requirement under the provisional ball rule to search for the original ball.
Rule 27-2b allows the player to continue to hit a provisional ball until she reaches the area where her original ball is likely to be. At that point, she may stop and search for the original. If she finds it, she must abandon the provisional and continue play with the original. If she does not find it, she will continue with the provisional under penalty of stroke and distance (count the original stroke, all strokes with the provisional, and one penalty stroke).
The Rule clearly states that the player may stop and search. She is not required to do so. If she hits the provisional ball from the area where her original is likely to be, or from any spot closer to the hole, the original is officially lost and the provisional automatically becomes her ball in play.
All of this information is clearly spelled out in Rule 27-2b. You might want to post that Rule on the bulletin board at your club, and e-mail it to everyone in your group.
Perhaps I should also mention that anyone is entitled to search for the ball. If someone finds it before the player’s provisional becomes the ball in play, the player must abandon the provisional and continue play with the original.
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