Saturday, December 12, 2015

Ask Linda 1210a-Improper provisional for ball in water hazard

Hi Linda,

Could you possibly clear this one up for me? I will explain as well as I can. Player hits his second shot in a water hazard. He walks up to the hazard, and before he looks for his ball, he plays a provisional ball. He then proceeds to look for his original ball and finds it. He then exits the hazard and proceeds to hit the original ball from the point of entry. Then picks up his provisional ball and finishes the hole with his original ball. Is this allowed?

Looking forward to your reply,
Lou from Wales, UK

Dear readers,
This was a very difficult question to answer. I received invaluable advice from three well-respected readers. The answer you will read below was submitted by Lou (what else would his name be?), a rules official from Canada. My thanks to all three “Lou’s” for their patience, expertise, and dedication to getting the answer right.

Dear Lou,

No, this is not allowed. Playing a provisional ball for a ball that is known or virtually certain to be in a water hazard is not permitted by the Rules.

When the player played the second so-called “provisional” ball, he had proceeded under Rule 26-1 (Relief for Ball in Water Hazard), incurring a penalty of one stroke under that Rule, and the second ball became his ball in play. His original ball was lost by definition. If the second ball was not played from the same place as the first ball (Rule 26-1a), or played from a spot behind the hazard on a straight line formed by the point where his first ball last crossed the margin of the hazard and the flagstick (as in Rule 26-1b), he has played from a wrong place, incurring a penalty of two strokes, and with a potential serious breach.

When he picked up his original ball, which was lost by definition, and dropped it, he had incorrectly substituted a ball for his ball in play (the “provisional” ball). By playing this incorrectly substituted ball, it became his ball in play with a penalty of two strokes. He must complete the hole with this ball. (Rule 15-2)

Summary – the player incurs a one-stroke penalty for the water hazard relief, potentially two penalty strokes for playing from a wrong place, and two penalty strokes for incorrectly substituting a ball for his ball in play.

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