Monday, January 15, 2018

Ask Linda #1677-Second tee shot designated both provisional (if ball lost) and stroke and distance (if ball in hazard)

When you think your ball may be lost outside the hazard, what’s wrong with stating on the tee box that if the ball is in the hazard this is my 3rd shot and if the ball is not lost or in the hazard, this is my provisional shot?
It would save coming back to the tee box if the ball is in the hazard and you want to use the option of hitting from the original position when a ball is in a hazard.
Lou from Wingham, Ontario, Canada

Dear Lou,

The Rules state quite clearly that if the original ball is found, the player must abandon the provisional and continue with the original. Please read Rule 27-2c.

While you may hit a provisional for a ball that may be lost outside a hazard, if it is determined that your original ball is in the hazard you must abandon the provisional and proceed under the Water Hazard Rule, Rule 26-1, if you do not want to play the ball as it lies in the hazard. If you choose relief option “a” under 26-1 (stroke and distance), you must return to where you hit your previous shot and hit another ball. Your provisional ball was hit under the Provisional Ball Rule; when you return to the tee to hit another ball, you are now playing under the Water Hazard Rule. You do, of course, have at least one other relief option for a ball in a hazard – you may choose to drop on the flagline (any type of water hazard) or take the two-club-length drop (lateral water hazards only).

I understand this seems like a waste of time to you, when you consider that if you could count your second shot from the teeing ground as both a provisional ball (if your original turns out to be lost) and a ball hit under relief option “a” in Rule 26-1 (if your original ball is found in the water hazard). But consider this: If the Rules were to permit this double meaning for a second shot from the teeing ground, the player would have a choice of which ball to play. For example, if the original were found in the hazard, and the player’s second tee shot from the tee were a poor shot, he could say: “I’m going to drop on the flagline for relief,” or “I’m going to play the ball as it lies in the hazard.” It is not the intent of the Rules to give a player a choice of shots, which would give the player an unfair advantage.

All of this being said, there is a Local Rule that, if adopted, permits a player to hit a ball provisionally under 26-1. It is a Rule that requires very specific conditions to exist. Look in Appendix I, Part A, #5 (p.151). If these conditions apply to a particular hole at your course, discuss this Local Rule with your Committee or a golf course manager and see if they would consider adopting it. Here is a link to a column I wrote in 2011 explaining this Local Rule:

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