Friday, July 31, 2015

Ask Linda #1117-Ball found after player hits under stroke and distance

Ms. Miller,

In a recent tournament, I hit a second shot to a downhill par 5 that we could not find. We spent 2 or 3 minutes looking for it (we didn't have stopwatch) before I proceeded back up the hill so as not to unduly delay the play of others behind me because I knew it would take a few minutes to get back up the hill (and they were already waiting). I did not say that I was abandoning the ball.

Before I had hit my next shot and before the five minutes were up, they had found the ball in a greenside bunker, but I was too far away to hear or see them. I hit my shot from back up on the hill and played that ball out.

Did I have the option of playing my original ball since it was found before the five minutes were up and they could not contact me? (This, of course, doesn't happen on television where they have walkie-talkies for communicating). If not, when was the original ball considered lost? When I left to go back up the hill, when I hit my replacement shot, or some other time? If I had said I was going back up the hill to hit a "provisional for lost ball" instead of just heading back up the hill would that have made a difference? If, before I hit the ball from the top of the hill, I said this is a "provisional for lost ball" but nobody could hear me, would it still count as a provisional?

Lou in Pennsylvania

Dear Lou,

As soon as you drop another ball under stroke and distance, your original ball is “lost” under the Rules [Definition of “Lost Ball”]. You do not have the option to play the original ball. It is officially lost; the ball you drop is your ball in play [Rule 27-1a; Decision 27-1/2].

You may not state that you are going back to hit a provisional ball. Once you have gone forward more than 50 yards to search for your original ball, you lose the option to hit a provisional ball [Rule 27-2a].

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.