Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Ask Linda #1344-Turn your back on your ball

Hi, Linda.
Could you please shed some light on the following…

In a stroke-play competition, I pulled my approach to the green into the rough. I did not play a provisional as I expected to find my ball. The three of us looked for my ball, but when it seemed that we weren't going to find it, I said that I'd better go back and play again from my previous spot.

As I went to my bag to get a replacement ball, one of my fellow golfers found my ball. I then played that ball because the full five minutes of search time had not been used.

After we completed the hole, one of the golfers suggested that my decision to play that ball was wrong because, "once I had turned my back on my ball," that ball was no longer playable as my actions deemed it lost.

I believe that, providing I have not exceeded the 5 minutes search time, my original ball is still available as a ball in play until such time as I have actually put another ball into play.

Does turning your back on the supposed location of the ball like that amount to a declaration that the ball is lost and therefore cannot be played?

As usual, Linda, many thanks for the great service that you provide for us all.

Lou from England

Dear Lou,

Ask that golfer to show you in the rulebook where it says that once you turn your back on your ball your actions deem it lost. I can assure you he won’t find it, but he might learn something searching through the Rules.

Your understanding is correct. If the ball is found within five minutes of beginning search, and before the player has put another ball into play under stroke and distance, he must continue play with the original ball. (He may, of course, choose to play under stroke and distance – that is always an option.) It would make no difference how far away he was when the ball was found. The time it takes him to walk back to his original ball does not count in the five minutes [Decision 27/5.5].

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