Originally Posted by mburton
thanks for the help guys! it didn't seem right to just guestimate where to drop from, so it makes a lot more sense now.
is it bad etiquette to do this on a busy course? (backtracking to the original spot)
also it just occured to me, if its a questionable hit i should just hit a provisional right? for some reason i had it in my head that those were only for tee shots, but surely you can take them in the situation i had right?
1) In a casual round on a busy course, it would probably not make you any friends to return to the previous spot while making them wait on you. Most casual golfers don't know the rule, and don't have any sympathy for someone who tries to play by the rules if they are inconvenienced by it. In a competition, it doesn't matter how busy the course is. If you make a serious breach like dropping 200 yards closer to the hole than the rules allow, you would be disqualified.
2) Yes. This is the reason that the provisional ball rule was added. It's designed to allow the player to play by the rules while also saving time by not having to return to the previous spot. One thing to keep in mind - if you play a provisional ball, then find your original ball in bounds, the provisional ball is abandoned. No exceptions, even if the original ball is unplayable. In that case, you are back to making the decision whether the situation dictates dropping where you can play from or returning to the previous spot.
When I am forced by circumstances to drop incorrectly, I add 2 strokes to make up for the stroke and distance penalty that I failed to implement correctly. It's not a perfect solution by any means, but it's closer than just adding a single penalty stroke, and it works when playing with friends for a wager of some sort. However, If I have any idea that the ball may not be in a playable situation, I always play a provisional ball. If I'm fairly certain that the ball will not be playable even if found, then I just play the second ball under stroke and distance without declaring it to be a provisional. I may not even bother to look for the original ball.
The USGA rules for handicap posting allow you to play some holes improperly and still return the score for handicap, as long as at least 13 holes are played by the rules, but I prefer to not have to use that provision. From the USGA Handicap Manual:
4-2. Holes Not Played or Not Played Under The Principles of The Rules of Golf
If a player does not play a hole or plays it other than under the principles of the Rules of Golf (except for preferred lies), the score recorded for that hole for handicap purposes must be par plus any handicap strokes the player is entitled to receive on that hole. This hole score, when recorded, should be preceded by an "X."