Monday, April 20, 2015

Ask Linda #1043-Play provisional if original is unplayable

Hi Linda. We all love your blog here in South Florida and continue to learn new things about the rules of golf every day. This is a question that came up in play last week:

Player hits her tee shot and fears it may be lost or out of bounds, so hits a 2nd shot from the tee as a provisional (following all of the required procedures for a provisional ball). Player then advances and finds her first ball but it is mired in bramble bushes with no good relief option. If she decides to declare her ball unplayable and take the stroke and distance option, can she use the ball that she hit as her provisional ball, or must she go back to the tee and hit again? If the purpose of a provisional ball is to save time, it seems to make sense to allow the player to hit the provisional as her stroke and distance option for her unplayable ball in this situation. 

What’s the answer? 
Lulu from Florida

Dear Lulu,

Would that “reasonable” always lead to the correct answer…

The answer, unhappily, is “no.” Once a player finds her original ball, she must abandon the provisional. If she deems the original “unplayable,” and chooses the stroke and distance option for relief, she must return to where she hit her previous shot. There is no option to continue play with a provisional ball after the original is found, even though it would clearly be a time-saver.

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