Friday, October 5, 2018

Ask Linda #1817-Hit wrong ball, find original OB, continue with provisional

Hello Linda,
Thanks for doing such a great job in answering all the questions.
Question: A player tees off. He is not sure his ball is out of bounds so he hits a provisional. He claims finding the original and hits it. He looks at the nearby out of bounds area and spots his original ball, realizing that he hit the wrong ball. He then proceeds to play the provisional. Is there a penalty for hitting the wrong ball?
Lou from Georgetown, Texas

Dear Lou,

I’m not certain how the player could claim that he found the original, since he apparently did not take a moment to identify it. Laziness, or carelessness, leads to many a golf penalty. The answer to your question, of course, is yes. The player incurs a two-stroke penalty (loss of hole in match play) for hitting a wrong ball [Rule 15-3]. His provisional now lies five; his next stroke with the provisional, which is now his ball in play, will be his sixth on the hole.

I have received a rash of questions regarding hitting a wrong ball recently. Considering the stiff penalty, and how simple it is to avoid that penalty, I am at a loss to explain why so many of you keep hitting the wrong ball. It takes just a couple of seconds to glance at the ball to check for your personal identification mark. And if the mark is not visible (perhaps the ball is nestled in tall grass), the Rules allow you to mark, lift, identify, and replace the ball without penalty. How much more pleasant is that than the anger and aggravation that will stay with you throughout the round (and perhaps beyond) when you are assessed a loss-of-hole or two-stroke penalty?

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