Thursday, August 29, 2019

Ask Linda 1987-Local Rule for Lost Ball

Linda .. quick question for you today regarding the new USGA Local Rule regarding a lost ball. I play in a friendly group. No money changes hands but to the best we can, we do attempt to play by the Rules of Golf. In a recent round one member of our group of four lost a ball in some deep grass. After looking for a reasonable amount of time he dropped a ball in the general area that the ball was suspected to be in and played out the hole. The course was crowded and it was a long walk back to the site of the original stroke so simply dropping where he thought the ball might be was not unusual. However, at making the turn he announced his front nine score. I (perhaps foolishly) pointed out that he could not have shot that score as he had taken an "X" on the hole under question. Perhaps a surge of testosterone kicked in (although given our age that might be a stretch) but he insisted that the Rules of Golf allow this. After a quick iPhone Google search I did find where one of the 2019 changes is that a Local Rule allowing this can be adopted by a course or a committee. 

My question has to do with the difference between this new Local Rule "option" versus the Rules of Golf. Specifically, can you address when this new option can be invoked and if that answer is that it always applies why has Rule 18.2 not been altered to reflect the change?

Lou from Texas

Dear Lou,

In order for the player to take the two-penalty-stroke relief for a lost ball, your club must adopt Local Rule E-5 (Alternative to Stroke and Distance for Lost Ball or Ball Out of Bounds). This option is not available to the player unless it has been adopted. It is not an option in the Rules of Golf.

Please click on this link to read the column I published last December explaining Local Rule E-5:

Just between you and me, if all of your play is with this friendly group, and you are not using your handicap to enter tournaments, consider “adopting” this Local Rule within your group. It will make the round more enjoyable for everyone (including the group behind you, which most assuredly does not want to watch one of you traipse back to the location of your previous shot to play another ball under stroke and distance). You might also talk to the course manager and see if the course might want to officially adopt this Local Rule for all casual play at the course.

Copyright © 2019 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.