RULE: Provisional Ball 2

First tee, still a bit stiff; hooked my drive to the left over the big tree. Now I can't find it!

Did it go into the hazard? Maybe it hit a tree and stayed out.
Maybe it bounced through the hazard and out into the clear!
Damn, I have looked for the allowed five minutes and still I cannot find it.
What do I do? Drop a ball behind the hazard? Can I return to the tee and hit a provisional ball?


In order to apply the water hazard rule, it must be known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found is actually in the water hazard. So it is most uncertain that my ball went into the hazard, therefore I cannot invoke this rule (Rule 26). No drop then behind the hazard.


Can I play a provisional ball? Yes and no!

Yes: But!
“If a ball may be lost outside a water hazard or may be out of bounds, to save
time, the player may play another ball provisionally in accordance with Rule 27.1 (lost ball). The player must inform his marker or fellow competitor in stroke play (opponent in match) that he intends to play a provisional ball, and
he must play it before he or his partner goes forward to search for the original ball.”

No: You cannot search for your ball and then decide to return to the tee and play a
provisional ball. You must declare your intention to play one before you go forward,
from the tee in this case.


So, I have played a provisional ball according to these rules, and decided to play a second shot with it. Then as I walk towards
the green, I find my original ball. What now?

The rules tell me I can play the provisional ball until I reach the place where my original ball is likely to be. I have met that condition, so far so good. However, if I had played the provisional ball close to the green and looked back to discover my original ball, it too late. The
provisional ball has become the ball in play!

Another scenario: my provisional ball from the tee is in great position, just short of the green. Then I find my original ball in a
really poor position (eg in the hazard, up against a huge log, and a drop behind the hazard leaves me dead…!) Can I decide to play the provisional ball?

No! “If the original ball is neither lost nor out of bounds, the player must abandon the provisional ball and continue play with the
original ball.” If I make any strokes with the provisional ball, I am playing a wrong ball – 2 stroke penalty!

Read further for complete details about the provisional ball, Rule 27-2 (p 106)