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# Provisional Ball Question

## 89 posts in this topic

Ok, so this is a situation that arose in the final round of the World Amateur Handicap Championship today. I think I understand the ruling, but I'm not really understanding why? For the rules guys here, please explain this to me. Player 1 hits his tee shot into a dense wooded area on the right. He isn't sure if it is going to be found, so he declares and plays a provisional. After player 1 hits his provisional ball, we drive up to where we believe his original ball is located. After a quick search, we find his original ball, but it's very deep in a thick wooded area with no chance to hit at it, and no options to take an unplayable lie, except to rehit from the tee under stroke and distance. No, my understanding is that at this point, since his original ball is found, his provisional ball is no longer even an option. You are not allowed to play it no matter. So, as his only option is to rehit from the tee under stroke and distance, we turn around, trek back to the tee, and he then hits #3 from there. What I really don't get, is that if the entire point of hitting a provisional is to save some time, why would it not be an option to play the provisional as stroke and distance unplayable lie, instead of having to return to the tee, just to hit a 3rd ball, because your first provisional ball is null and void as soon as you find your original ball? This exact situation occurred today, and there was an argument about whether he could use his provisional to proceed under stroke and distance playable lie. My thought is that he can not. But why not? We are trying to save time. Why is he going to drive back and re-hit a 3rd tee shot?
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It's late, so a quick answer.  Yes a provisional ball is used to save time, but it's for a specific situation under the rules......for a lost ball or rule 27-1.  A ball found is not lost, it doesn't apply.  Think of it this way, there are 3 options for an unplayable.  Normally, a player has to decide which option to use when he get's to his ball.  One of the things he has to consider, is if he feels comfortable replaying his stroke from the previous spot.  With a provisional, he doesn't have to worry about it.....he already knows if it was a good shot or not and this could help in making his decision as to what unplayable option to take.

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The other thing you have to bear in mind is that you can't have a situation where a player has options regarding which of the two balls he wants to be using.

You can't make a decision about the original ball because you like the position the provisional is in.

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Originally Posted by Shorty

The other thing you have to bear in mind is that you can't have a situation where a player has options regarding which of the two balls he wants to be using.

You can't make a decision about the original ball because you like the position the provisional is in.

Exactly. You do not want a provisional to be the deciding point of whether or not to play the first ball. You make a decision about the first ball, then the pressure is on to replay from the original spot if that is the relief that you choose. Let's say that you were allowed to use the provisional for this purpose. If you were in great shape you would use that as a factor to make a decision. If your provisional was stuck in a bush, you would then use that information to try to take a different type of relief for the first ball. The way the rule is written currently, it does not allow the provisional to influence how to take relief for the first ball that is not lost or OB.

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Thanks to the 'trappers for their well stated rationale about provisionals and "lost" balls that are found.  Very clear explanations.

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Originally Posted by Shorty

You can't make a decision about the original ball because you like the position the provisional is in.

There is one decision you can make about the original ball: You can choose not to look for it. If it isn't found, it is lost and you play the provisional.

That doesn't prohibit your opponent, a spectator, or anyone else from looking for the ball and if they find it within 5 minutes the provisional is abandoned.

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Fascinating stuff! I wasn't aware of this! I'm gonna have to brush up on the in playable lie scenarios! Could anyone briefly explain what is and isn't classed as an unplayable lie, and the penalty format!
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*unplayable lie that is?
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Originally Posted by Hardballs

*unplayable lie that is?

Rule 28 : The player may deem his ball unplayable at any place on the course , except when the ball is in a water hazard . The player is the sole judge as to whether his ball is unplayable.

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All of this makes sense. Thanks for the replies.
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This is one of the many rules that need to be modified under the USGA's 'Pace of Play' promotion.  IMO, unless you in a PGA or USGA National tornament, you would be allowed to delclare the ball lost or unplayable, and then drop at the nearest point that's no closer to the  hole with a 2 stroke penalty (aka stroke and distance from the tee.  In either case, you would be hitting three from that point.  This will greatly speed up the pace of play on most public, and alot of private, courses.  The rule that yo have to go back to the tee is very self defeating and must be changed if there is to be any improvement in the 'pace of play' on amateur golfing ranks.

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Originally Posted by LAMountaineer

This is one of the many rules that need to be modified under the USGA's 'Pace of Play' promotion.  IMO, unless you in a PGA or USGA National tornament, you would be allowed to delclare the ball lost or unplayable, and then drop at the nearest point that's no closer to the  hole with a 2 stroke penalty (aka stroke and distance from the tee.  In either case, you would be hitting three from that point.  This will greatly speed up the pace of play on most public, and alot of private, courses.  The rule that yo have to go back to the tee is very self defeating and must be changed if there is to be any improvement in the 'pace of play' on amateur golfing ranks.

That's been tried. Read Tufts and report back.

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Originally Posted by LAMountaineer

This is one of the many rules that need to be modified under the USGA's 'Pace of Play' promotion.  IMO, unless you in a PGA or USGA National tornament, you would be allowed to delclare the ball lost or unplayable, and then drop at the nearest point that's no closer to the  hole with a 2 stroke penalty (aka stroke and distance from the tee.  In either case, you would be hitting three from that point.  This will greatly speed up the pace of play on most public, and alot of private, courses.  The rule that yo have to go back to the tee is very self defeating and must be changed if there is to be any improvement in the 'pace of play' on amateur golfing ranks.

Why would unplayable result in a 2 stroke penalty when there is already a rule assessing a one stroke penalty?

The rules are already perfectly adequate.  When in doubt, hit a provisional.

Given the rarity of seeing someone actually go back to the tee and re-hit, I find it laughable to say that changing the rule would improve pace of play in the slightest, let alone "greatly speed up the pace of play".

I was at US Open sectional qualifying a couple of months ago and there was a situation where a player hit a tee shot onto a brush covered hill.  He would have hit a provision but there was miscommunication between him and the spotter down the fairway and he thought the spotter signaled that he saw the ball.  As it turned out the ball was lost and the player had to walk back and re-tee.  Within a hole they were can in position with absolutely no pace of play issue caused by going back and re-hitting.

Pace of play is a red herring on this rule.  If you do not like the rule, fine, but pace of play is not a good pretext for changing it, IMO.  If you want to argue that this rule should be changed because it is ignored more than it is followed, then that is at least a cogent argument (though one I disagree with).  But pace of play?  Hah!!

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This is one of the many rules that need to be modified under the USGA's 'Pace of Play' promotion.  IMO, unless you in a PGA or USGA National tornament, you would be allowed to delclare the ball lost or unplayable, and then drop at the nearest point that's no closer to the  hole with a 2 stroke penalty (aka stroke and distance from the tee.  In either case, you would be hitting three from that point.  This will greatly speed up the pace of play on most public, and alot of private, courses.  The rule that yo have to go back to the tee is very self defeating and must be changed if there is to be any improvement in the 'pace of play' on amateur golfing ranks.

This may be a possibility on a ball that is found, but Out of Bounds. But there's no way to use this rule for a Lost ball. As the ball is lost, there is no real way to determine where to drop (under your proposed 2 stroke penalty). Also, I don't even like the idea of a 2 stroke penalty on a ball out of bounds. If I hit my tee-shot to the right, and it goes out of bounds, you're suggesting I drop at the point it last left the boundary of the golf course, take a 2 stroke penalty, and then hit #4 from there. Why would I do that? I would still need to punch out or hit some miraculous recovery shot since I'm now sitting very close to the OB line. I could very easily just take my 1 stroke penalty, re-hit from the tee, and more than likely be hitting my 4th shot from the fairway (or rough) instead of hitting my 4th from the edge of the course near the OB line.

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Had a guy in my group at the World Amateur this year hit one in the woods.  It was definitely pretty dense.  He said he was hitting provisional and he did.  When we got to about where his ball entered the woods, I asked him if he really wanted to go in there and look for it.  It did not take him but a moment of looking just along the edge to move on to his provisonal ball.  It was the smart thing to do.  If he had found it, he might have still been in there hacking away.

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Had a guy in my group at the World Amateur this year hit one in the woods.  It was definitely pretty dense.  He said he was hitting provisional and he did.  When we got to about where his ball entered the woods, I asked him if he really wanted to go in there and look for it.  It did not take him but a moment of looking just along the edge to move on to his provisonal ball.  It was the smart thing to do.  If he had found it, he might have still been in there hacking away.

Rick, looks like you had a good tourney. Finished 6th in your flight with some solid scores after the Monday "warm up round". Nice! Hey, at least the weather was perfect for the week. I very much enjoyed it and will definitely compete again next year.

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Originally Posted by MyrtleBeachGolf

Rick, looks like you had a good tourney. Finished 6th in your flight with some solid scores after the Monday "warm up round". Nice!

Hey, at least the weather was perfect for the week. I very much enjoyed it and will definitely compete again next year.

I did.  Even with Monday's terrible crap, I still had my chances but made an 8 every day.  You just can't do that.  I went brain dead on several par 5s.

Glad to hear you will compete again.  It really is a lot of fun.

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As has been pointed out, the rules allow for a provisional ball to be played for a ball lost or OB.

It's pretty clear to me that this rule should be changed to also include an unplayable ball. Why stop with lost or OB, if the rule itself says it's to save time.

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