Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Ask Linda #1732-Provisional for ball possibly in hazard

Hi Linda,
I know that it has to be certain or virtually certain that the ball is in the hazard to take a penalty drop outside the hazard.

On our course there are a bunch of trees to the right, staked red, after which the fairway opens up.

A player in our group hit a ball over the trees, we all agreed that it had most likely crossed the trees but would only know whether it went into the hazard or not after we got to the ball. If the ball was not visible on the fairway beyond the trees it had to be in the water.  We agreed that too.

I suggested that he hit a ‘provisional’ from the point of entry (i.e., very near the tee box where the ball would have entered the trees/ hazard so that we would save time if the ball did end up not being found.  If the ball was found he could pick up the ‘provisional.’

However, one player said that the moment he dropped a ball and played it, he had declared the ball was in the hazard and so even if his original ball was found outside, he could no longer play it. In other words he could not drop a ball provisionally.

What do you think - seemed a little painful to go all the way there and then walk back, but that is what we ended up doing as the ball was not found.

Thanks a lot as always,
Lou from Hong Kong

Dear Lou,

A player may hit a provisional ball for a ball that may be lost outside a water hazard. If the player is uncertain whether his ball is in the hazard, and he decides to hit a provisional ball, he must hit the provisional from the spot where he hit the original (not from the point of entry into the hazard). If the ball is not found, he must continue with the ball played provisionally under stroke and distance.

However, if I understand your question correctly, (1) it is not possible to determine whether the ball is in the hazard when the shot is hit; and (2) if the ball is not found, it is known or virtually certain that the ball is in the hazard. This being the case, there is a Local Rule that permits the player to play a ball provisionally using any of the relief options in Rule 26-1. Under this Local Rule, if the original ball is found outside the hazard, it must be played as it lies. If it is found in the hazard, the player must either play it as it lies or continue with the ball played provisionally; the player may not drop another ball. If the ball is not found, the player must continue play with the ball played provisionally.

Please read Local Rule #5 in Appendix I, Part A. If it pertains accurately to your situation, encourage the course management to adopt this Local Rule for this particular hole.

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