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ANDY_UK

Lost ball rule and pace of play

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I think one of the key reasons for slow play is the time spent looking for lost balls and maybe then taking the walk of shame.  One recent example was when we arrived at the tee on a par 4 hole where a 3 ball had just started looking for a lost ball in the left rough about 200 yds from the tee. After searching for what seemed like the full 5 minutes, they found the ball and played it, but then all 3 walked across the fairway to the right hand rough and commenced another search for another of the group's balls! They didn't find it and the elderly gent then came back to the tee and played again. He apologised to the groups that were backed up on the tee on the grounds that it was a competition match, but in total it was a near 20 min wait on the tee

Lots of lessons learnt, for sure, such as not playing provisionals, not splitting up to search for both balls concurrently, not waving groups through, but these do not disguise what is basically a rather stupid rule that needs revision. Maybe just for the amateur game. 

Ironically the reduction in ball searching time to apply in 2019 from 5 to 3 minutes may increase the walks of shame. It's easy to say 'hit a provisional' and of course this should be done where it is thought the ball would be lost or OOB. However, this is not always practical, especially on courses with lots of blind shots, raised greens with run offs, etc, where often good shots can kick into rough out of site of the golfer playing the shot. Plus autumn leaves, playing into the sun, etc, 

Surely it is time for a change to this rule? Such as treating OOB and areas where the ball is lost like a lateral hazard, except that there is a 2 shot penalty rather than 1 for a designated staked lateral hazard. This could be a further option in addition to playing the shot again from it's original spot. For example a golfer hits a drive over a fairway hump and can't find it as it has probably kicked left into the rough. So a ball is dropped where it is thought the ball left the fairway and the golfer is then playing his 4th shot

Andy

England

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by ANDY_UK
typing error on the word hazard

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There are all those common sense things you mention, but another thing that would help a bunch would be the courses keeping the rough at a decent length. Your garden-variety hacker (like me) probably isn't super excited about the challenge of blasting out of ankle-deep rough. Keep the stuff cut, people will find their balls faster and hit them better once they get there.

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There are a bunch of threads on this topic, all explaining why such a rule is impossible.

But the best takeaway is the simplest,  whenever there's the least question whether a ball may be lost or OB, hit a provisional.  

"Problem" solved...

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If the new rules are implemented, the 3-minute rule will hopefully speed up play and make people think about hitting a provisional ball more often.

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13 hours ago, ANDY_UK said:

Surely it is time for a change to this rule? Such as treating OOB and areas where the ball is lost like a lateral hazard, except that there is a 2 shot penalty rather than 1 for a designated staked lateral hazard. This could be a further option in addition to playing the shot again from it's original spot. For example a golfer hits a drive over a fairway hump and can't find it as it has probably kicked left into the rough. So a ball is dropped where it is thought the ball left the fairway and the golfer is then playing his 4th shot

How about hitting a provisional?

http://www.randa.org/Rules-of-Golf/MainRules/27-Ball-Lost-or-Out-of-Bounds-Provisional-Ball/SubRules/2-Provisional-Ball

 

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12 hours ago, David in FL said:

There are a bunch of threads on this topic, all explaining why such a rule is impossible.

But the best takeaway is the simplest,  whenever there's the least question whether a ball may be lost or OB, hit a provisional.  

"Problem" solved...

+1

Can't tell you how many times I've tried to explain this to my golfing friends: there's no shame in playing a provisional.
Just hit it: it takes virtually no time, best case it's a free practice swing, worst case you have to play it but at least you didn't have to walk back to the tee and hold up play for everyone else.

 

 

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Problem with changing the rule is when a ball is LOST then how do you know where to drop? In my years of playing this silly game and searching and finding balls, I have observed that most of the time people search well past where the ball actually was. Taking a penalty stroke and then dropping and playing from the spot where you "think" your ball may have been lost opens a can of worms to say the least. For one if you really were anywhere near where your ball got lost you would look down and find the dang thing!

OB (not OOB btw) is a slightly different thing, it is possible, just like a lateral hazard, to estimate where the ball crossed the line and play from there with a penalty.  That being said I still don't understand why someone wouldn't hit a provisional if their ball goes in the direction of out of bounds.

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2 hours ago, Big_in_Belgium said:

+1

Can't tell you how many times I've tried to explain this to my golfing friends: there's no shame in playing a provisional.
Just hit it: it takes virtually no time, best case it's a free practice swing, worst case you have to play it but at least you didn't have to walk back to the tee and hold up play for everyone else.

 

 

Yup. 

But there have been times where myself or a playing partner have seen a poor shot bounce and come to rest, only to walk up to that area and never find the ball. Thats just awful luck. 

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Thanks for your replies. I understand the points about provisional balls, and yes, if it is thought the ball is lost or OB, then hit again.

 

But there is always the issue of the ball that is hit well and yet is still lost. Not an issue usually for the wide open parkland courses were you can see every ball land, but take other courses such as UK links courses with lots of blind carries and running fast in summer with lots of wind. A different matter completely and not a rare problem. If a golfer hits a good solid straight drive up over a rising fairway to where it flattens out, they are not going to see it land. The wrong bounce, some wind and the ball’s in the rough out of sight from the tee. Are they really going to hit again? And again if that’s another straight drive?

At a course I play regularly it’s like this with about 10 or so blind shots and the other day we’d booked a tee time only to turn up and find 4 groups still waiting on the first tee. Turned out there was a competition ahead and some of the groups had experienced ‘lost ball issues’ according to the starter. Welcome to the 5 hour round!

I understand that changing the rule would be difficult, and it’s unfortunate that the governing bodies couldn’t come up with something around this to reduce the curse of slow play when they did their rules review. But hopefully some of the new rules, such as the ‘maximum score’ on each hole, will help.

However, some clubs have introduced some local rules. One club in my area have a ‘no going back’ rule that applies to all play other than the most serious competitions. Encourages more use of provisional balls, but also uses the lateral hazard type rule I spoke of before.

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11 minutes ago, ANDY_UK said:

At a course I play regularly it’s like this with about 10 or so blind shots and the other day we’d booked a tee time only to turn up and find 4 groups still waiting on the first tee. Turned out there was a competition ahead and some of the groups had experienced ‘lost ball issues’ according to the starter. Welcome to the 5 hour round!

I understand that changing the rule would be difficult, and it’s unfortunate that the governing bodies couldn’t come up with something around this to reduce the curse of slow play when they did their rules review. But hopefully some of the new rules, such as the ‘maximum score’ on each hole, will help.

Just because there is a maximum score rule, that doesnt mean people will follow it. Same thing with pace of play. I have played tons of courses that have the pace of play guidelines printed on the scorecard, but rounds take over that amount of time because there is nobody from the course out there actively enforcing the pace of play. 

And in my own personal experience of non tournament golf, I have NEVER seen someone to come back up to the tee and hit another tee shot once they got out to the fairway/rough and couldnt find their ball. Based on my experience, people coming back up to the tee and rehitting/not hitting a provisional is not the reason for excessively slow rounds.

Edited by klineka

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26 minutes ago, klineka said:

Just because there is a maximum score rule, that doesnt mean people will follow it. Same thing with pace of play. I have played tons of courses that have the pace of play guidelines printed on the scorecard, but rounds take over that amount of time because there is nobody from the course out there actively enforcing the pace of play. 

And in my own personal experience of non tournament golf, I have NEVER seen someone to come back up to the tee and hit another tee shot once they got out to the fairway/rough and couldnt find their ball. Based on my experience, people coming back up to the tee and rehitting/not hitting a provisional is not the reason for excessively slow rounds.

I've seen it a few times in the past, but granted probably not a key reason for slow play. Still a tiresome rule though. The original searching is a key reason though, especially if not done in sync. Hate slow play though, no excuse for nearly 5 hours even for a 4 ball. As a guest on another course, followed a 4 ball the other day, mid handicappers I think. Took 2.5 hrs for 9 holes, but which time my partner and I had enough and went home. There was no group in front of them either. Main reasons for slow play with them was

Lost ball searching time, although no coming back to replay.

Doing their club selection and pre-shot routines in sequence after each player had hit. No attempt at ready golf

One guy kept answering his mobile on the course and the rest of the group stopped until he had finished. Their body language suggested they couldn't care less

Acting on the greens like it was the final hole in the Masters

Andy

 

 

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@ANDY_UK Interesting argument, but neither you nor the person that wrote the article has answered my question.

If the ball is lost where do you drop?

Obviously you don't have any idea where your ball went so how do you equitably drop in a place that does not give you an advantage? It could have hit a tree and gone backwards, it could have taken a horrible bounce and be well right or left of the fairway or green. You don't know so how could you possibly drop anywhere but from where you originally hit your shot?

For example you're playing a match, one person hits their ball up against a tree, another person hits their ball, it hits something and goes off never to be seen again. The player who found their ball has to chip out backwards back to the fairway, the player with the lost ball just gets to drop where ever and add a stroke? Technically the player with the lost ball could be in better position after dropping and they both lie 2. Thats just wrong IMHO

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2 hours ago, ANDY_UK said:

I've seen it a few times in the past, but granted probably not a key reason for slow play. Still a tiresome rule though. The original searching is a key reason though, especially if not done in sync. Hate slow play though, no excuse for nearly 5 hours even for a 4 ball. As a guest on another course, followed a 4 ball the other day, mid handicappers I think. Took 2.5 hrs for 9 holes, but which time my partner and I had enough and went home. There was no group in front of them either. Main reasons for slow play with them was

Lost ball searching time, although no coming back to replay.

Doing their club selection and pre-shot routines in sequence after each player had hit. No attempt at ready golf

One guy kept answering his mobile on the course and the rest of the group stopped until he had finished. Their body language suggested they couldn't care less

Acting on the greens like it was the final hole in the Masters

Andy

 

 

There's your problem...

...and it has nothing to do with the rules.

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Yes, looking for lost balls slows down play, but no it's not the primary culprit of slow play. Anyone who has played golf with me can attest to that. I am not a slow player, despite the amount of golf balls I am capable of losing per round.

2 hours ago, ANDY_UK said:

Doing their club selection and pre-shot routines in sequence after each player had hit. No attempt at ready golf

This is the #1 reason for slow play. Lost balls don't generally happen on every hole. This sort of behavior can happen on every single hole, several times per hole. All it takes is one group to do this and a ripple effect is created that slows the pace down for every group behind them.

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6 hours ago, ANDY_UK said:

Thanks for your replies. I understand the points about provisional balls, and yes, if it is thought the ball is lost or OB, then hit again.

 

But there is always the issue of the ball that is hit well and yet is still lost. Not an issue usually for the wide open parkland courses were you can see every ball land, but take other courses such as UK links courses with lots of blind carries and running fast in summer with lots of wind. A different matter completely and not a rare problem. If a golfer hits a good solid straight drive up over a rising fairway to where it flattens out, they are not going to see it land. The wrong bounce, some wind and the ball’s in the rough out of sight from the tee. Are they really going to hit again? And again if that’s another straight drive?

At a course I play regularly it’s like this with about 10 or so blind shots and the other day we’d booked a tee time only to turn up and find 4 groups still waiting on the first tee. Turned out there was a competition ahead and some of the groups had experienced ‘lost ball issues’ according to the starter. Welcome to the 5 hour round!

I understand that changing the rule would be difficult, and it’s unfortunate that the governing bodies couldn’t come up with something around this to reduce the curse of slow play when they did their rules review. But hopefully some of the new rules, such as the ‘maximum score’ on each hole, will help.

However, some clubs have introduced some local rules. One club in my area have a ‘no going back’ rule that applies to all play other than the most serious competitions. Encourages more use of provisional balls, but also uses the lateral hazard type rule I spoke of before.

You definitely have a point with the way that some of those links courses are designed.  I've always hated blind shots.  My home course has just one such tee shot, and once you've played it a couple of times, you learn how the ball reacts and can forecast just about where it will end up.  The most likely area for a ball to run off the fairway is kept mowed to about 1.5" to 2" so that it will have an effect on the approach shot, but still be fairly easy to find your ball. 

It doesn't work that way on some of those classic links courses in the UK where quirky bounces are the norm rather than the exception.  That is probably where the idea of a fore caddie came into being, but these days it isn't normal to have that luxury either.  Puts you guys in a difficult position, and I sure don't have any good answer for it.  

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16 hours ago, NM Golf said:

@ANDY_UK Interesting argument, but neither you nor the person that wrote the article has answered my question.

If the ball is lost where do you drop?

Obviously you don't have any idea where your ball went so how do you equitably drop in a place that does not give you an advantage? It could have hit a tree and gone backwards, it could have taken a horrible bounce and be well right or left of the fairway or green. You don't know so how could you possibly drop anywhere but from where you originally hit your shot?

For example you're playing a match, one person hits their ball up against a tree, another person hits their ball, it hits something and goes off never to be seen again. The player who found their ball has to chip out backwards back to the fairway, the player with the lost ball just gets to drop where ever and add a stroke? Technically the player with the lost ball could be in better position after dropping and they both lie 2. Thats just wrong IMHO

To answer your question, I would regard the area beyond the fairway where one feels the ball is lost to be a ‘lateral hazard’ and then drop the ball according to the current hazard rules. Namely, drop within two club-lengths of, and not nearer the hole than, the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard (In the case of a lost ball, the margin would be the fairway edge) . Not always easy to determine where the ball crossed the margin, but then hooking a shot 200 yds away into a lateral water hazard that runs the length of the fairway poses the same problem at the moment. 

However, unlike the lateral hazard rule, add 2 penalty shots not one. So in your scenario, the golfer who hit his shot behind a tree would lie 2, and the golfer who lost a ball would lie 3

Another option would be to adopt Speedgolf rules, but adding 2 penalty shots. See below

 

 

Andy

 

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14 hours ago, David in FL said:

There's your problem...

...and it has nothing to do with the rules.

Granted, but as I said, this group did spend a fair bit of time looking for lost balls. They did hit a few provisionals, but you could see them looking for balls in the distance and then drop a ball from shoulder height into the fairway, so like many golfers they made up their own rules. If everyone did follow the rules to the letter, just think how much slower rounds would be!

I like to play with new people regularly, and often the discussion on the first tee is 'what do we do about the lost ball rule?' Outside serious competition the 'walk of shame' rule is universally ignored, so why the pretense that it's a good rule? Like a lot of the other dumb rules that are being dumped in 2019, the governing bodies should have dumped this as well, if only in amateur golf!

Andy

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56 minutes ago, ANDY_UK said:

Granted, but as I said, this group did spend a fair bit of time looking for lost balls. They did hit a few provisionals, but you could see them looking for balls in the distance and then drop a ball from shoulder height into the fairway, so like many golfers they made up their own rules. If everyone did follow the rules to the letter, just think how much slower rounds would be!

I like to play with new people regularly, and often the discussion on the first tee is 'what do we do about the lost ball rule?' Outside serious competition the 'walk of shame' rule is universally ignored, so why the pretense that it's a good rule? Like a lot of the other dumb rules that are being dumped in 2019, the governing bodies should have dumped this as well, if only in amateur golf!

Andy

If a ball is lost, by definition you don't know where it is.  In your "blind shot down the middle" scenario, you may not even know which side of the hole it's on, nor do you know how far toward the hole it went.  All you're doing is guessing.

One of the basic, guiding principles of the rules is that a ball can only be advanced by means of a stroke.  Remember too, that the rules need to be written so that every player, in a similar situation proceeds in the same way, with the same options.  "Guessing where to drop"  doesn't allow for that equity.  Since you don't know where the ball is, or even how far up the hole it is, the only option is to replay the stroke.  

Balls get lost.  Some are found, some are not.  Hit a provisional whenever it makes sense to do so, and the relatively little time that is spent going back to the tee for unusual situations is a drop in the bucket when it comes to pace of play issues.  The much larger problem, as you correctly mentioned, is simple awareness and sense of concern to keep moving efficiently.  I know 20+ handicappers who can play a 4-ball, by the rules, in under 3 hours.  Many of them can't remember the last time it didn't take at least a sleeve of balls to complete a round.  It's the attitude that makes the difference.

 

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