RULE: Provisional Ball 3


Opinions differ with members about the legality of hitting provisional balls when the player's ball cuts the corner of the red penalty area adjacent to #12 tee. I am trying to save a bit of time so I don't slow down the group - so can I hit provisional ball from the tee, or one from position A??

How many times have you seen it - the player slices his tee shot, and the ball rustles through the leaves on the corner of the yellow penalty area. Because it is not possible from the tee to see 'around the corner and over the hill', we do not know whether the ball stayed in the penalty area, or made its way through to the cleared area on the hill (red line).

There still appears to be some confusion about hitting a provisional ball.

    1. Can I hit a provisional ball from the tee?

     2. Can I hit a ball from A (under Rule 17  Penalty Areas) and call it a provisional ball just in case we walk up the hill and find my ball has made it through the trees?

ANSWERS:

Before any answer can be given, the definition of provisional ball is critical: A provisional ball is "another ball played in case the ball just played by you may be lost outside a penalty area or may be out of bounds."

1. If you are certain that the ball is lost in the penalty area, you cannot play a provisional ball from the tee. You must proceed under Rule 17.1 Penalty Areas.

2. There may be an outside chance your  ball made it through the big trees and is "outside the penalty area", in the General Area (see definitions). But players will have to walk up the hill to search (see red line), in the forlorn hope it made it through! When it becomes obvious the ball is still in the penalty area, you have to walk back down the hill to point A (point of last crossing the margin of the penalty area) and play a ball under Rule 17.1.

This is time consuming and the following group is right behind them, so to save some time, you drop a ball at point A, call it a provisional ball, hit it and then proceed up the hill to check if your ball made it out.

The sentiment in so doing is admirable, but unfortunately, the "provisional ball" applies only to a ball lost outside a penalty area or out of bounds. If you play a ball from point A, this ball then becomes the ball in play (see Full Rule 14.4) as you have virtually declared that your ball is lost in the penalty area.

After hitting the ball at A, now the ball in play, you may still go forward and search the area for your tee shot, but if you find it, it is too late to play it, as you have put another ball into play when you dropped at A. You have to grit your teeth, mutter something inappropriate under your breath and pick up the tee shot ball!

If you  do hit the found tee shot claiming the "provisional ball" at A to be null and void, you have  actually hit a wrong ball and Rule 6.3c becomes into effect (two stroke [general] penalty or if  you fail to correct, disqualified!!) So have a look at Rule 6.3c for the details!

Now a test.

Apply the same ruling to the 'power fade' into the hazard on Hole #4!!

Do I hit a provisional ball at B? Maybe my ball made it out to C!

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