Thursday, October 5, 2017

Ask Linda #1617-Failure to announce and identify provisional ball

Hello Linda,
We were standing on the tee box at No 17. A player hit his tee shot towards an area demarcated as out of bounds. He then went to his bag to take another ball out to hit what would be his provisional ball. He hit the “provisional” ball without announcing to the group that it was a provisional. He claimed that he whispered that to one player but that player denied such. We then asked him to identify both balls. He informed us that both balls were Srixon #3.

He went to look for his original ball to see if it was out of bounds and we also joined him. We “stumbled” upon a Callaway ball and he claimed that it was the first ball that he hit off the tee (he said he was just joking when he said his original ball was a Srixon). We told him that it could not be but he insisted and went on to play his second shot (the ball had not gone out of bounds).

Here are my questions:

1. Is it compulsory that a player indicates/announces that he is playing a provisional ball? If not, is there any sanction?
2. What is the rule if a player claims a ball that is different to the one that he had claimed was his? In this case, he told us that he was playing a Srixon 3 but then claimed that the Callaway was his.

Lou from South Africa

Dear Lou,

The player must announce that the second ball he is about to hit is a provisional ball [Rule 27-2a (i)]. Since this player made no such announcement, the second ball he hit from the teeing ground is his ball in play and is his third stroke on the hole under stroke and distance [Rule 27-1]. The original ball is lost and may not be played [Definition of “Lost Ball”]. Thus, the Callaway he claimed was his first ball is a lost ball and he may not play it. When he hits the Callaway, he has played a wrong ball. He incurs a two-stroke penalty [Rule 15-3b] and must abandon that ball and continue play with the second ball he hit off the tee (Srixon 3). If he does not complete the hole with the Srixon 3, and he tees off on the next hole, he is disqualified. If he cannot find that Srixon 3, he must return to the tee to hit his seventh shot on the hole.

If the player had properly announced his provisional, you now have another problem. The player stated his original ball was a Srixon, and then claimed that the found Callaway was his original ball. Unless he can prove that he misspoke in stating his original was a Srixon, he cannot claim the Callaway is his. Does the Callaway have his personal identification mark? Did he have both a Callaway and a Srixon in his pocket, such that when he checked his pocket he discovered that the Srixon was still there so he must have hit the Callaway?

You could avoid all these problems by asking all players to identify what ball they are hitting when they start the round. When a player hits a provisional, ask him to identify the provisional and explain how it differs from his original. If a player claims both his original and his provisional are the same brand and number, he had better have different ID marks on the two balls (perhaps green dots on the first and red dots on the second). If he cannot distinguish between the two balls, you should ask him to put down a different ball to hit or take a marker and put a distinguishing mark on the provisional ball.

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