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Lost Ball, What Are Your Options?

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There is a level of hackerdom where getting the driver out of your hands as soon as possible is the best possible thing that can happen. I've seen it and experienced it.

It also would be nice to have the option when the course is packed and you lose a ball that you didn't expect to lose. Score aside, walking back to the tee is the worst thing ever. 

Short of that, a golfer would generally expect to hit his or her next drive substantially better. Let the others tee off. Step aside, breath a bit and hit it like you know how. You'll be in a much better position than if you simply dropped where your quacker went farm. 

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By the admission that all of those possible scenarios add up to more than a 0% chance of happening, already it’s proven dropping in the fairway is the better option to score lower over time. Every time the provisional doesn’t hit the fairway, the player brings 7, 8, 9, and 10 into play. From the fairway, he’s mostly looking at 6 or 7. He hits the green and makes 6. He misses the green and makes 7. 

I can also show why the loss of yardage isn’t that big a deal. Hitting the fairway is. I’ll grant you the 40 yards (which is an exaggeration in most cases). Let’s say the provisional gets to 140, but the drop would be 180. 

How often does a player, who just pumped one OB mind you, hit the fairway? What do pros average? 60%? 65%? Seems high. Let’s go with 60. So 40% of the time that provisional is in the rough where lots of bad things can happen. 

Even saying none of those bad things happen, the ball is found etc. For the pros, he will score better from 180 in the fairway compared to 140 in the rough. (3.15 vs. 3.08 SG) For ams it’s even more likely because they don’t hit the middle of the face. 

So 40% of the time, the times the provisional is in the rough and 40 yards closer, the drop in the fairway is still going to shoot a better score over time. 

60% of the time, the times the provisional hits the fairway, the pro has 0.17SG 140 vs. 180. 

So when the pro hits the fairway with his provisional, he gains 0.2 strokes. Ams will gain even less. And that pro only has a 60% chance on the tee to gain that 0.2 strokes. Ams hit less fairways. 

Because hitting a provisional can bring very large numbers into play, and because the player is not guaranteed to hit the fairway, taking a guaranteed ball in the fairway, even if you have to give up lots of yards, the player will score better over time taking the LR over the provisional. The higher your cap, the more this is true. 

There are exceptions, there always are in golf. But, in general, a player will shoot lower scores over time taking the LR regardless of handicap. 

Edited by Augster

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1 hour ago, Augster said:

By the admission that all of those possible scenarios add up to more than a 0% chance of happening, already it’s proven dropping in the fairway is the better option to score lower over time.

No.

The rest of your math is faulty as well.

But hey, you play the way you enjoy playing.

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1 hour ago, Augster said:

By the admission that all of those possible scenarios add up to more than a 0% chance of happening, already it’s proven dropping in the fairway is the better option to score lower over time. 

This is the part that keeps confusing me. I've played any number of courses, and in any number of leagues, who had local rules governing balls hit OB. They were generally stroke only penalties in order to keep play moving. But I can't remember a single one that allowed you to drop in the fairway! You were allowed to drop in bounds within 2 club lengths of where you could reasonably ascertain, I suppose that means "guess", where your ball went OB. 

This could still leave you surrounded by trees, with nothing but a sideways punch out to look at. That's tantamount to a distance penalty anyway!

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14 hours ago, iacas said:

I've got the stats to back this up, but here's an example that's pretty representative… in fact, this example skews things pretty hard in your favor by choosing a relatively narrow hole that limits how much farther offline a ball can get before it's OB.

ob1.jpg

This player barely hit the ball out of bounds, by about an inch, on a 270-yard tee shot. Dropping at the edge of the fairway means he has 172 yards to the center of the green.

If the player hits a tee shot anywhere in play, his next shot is shorter. If he hits near the ideal tee shot…

ob2.jpg

his second shot - with the same distance off the tee - is 152 yards. That's 20 yards less. That's a 5-iron to a 7-iron for a lot of golfers. Or a 6-iron to an 8-iron.

In fact, the only time a player will be better off dropping up ahead instead of hitting a provisional is if they expect the shot to also be lost or OB, or so badly in the rough that the gains toward the hole they can make are going to be offset.

Maybe for some really bad players, that's going to be true. But for the majority of players on the majority of holes, those conditions won't be true to offset the gains you can make by driving a second tee shot. Most OB/lost ball areas aren't close enough and golfers, having just hit a horrible shot, aren't all that likely to repeat it.

If they are - then obviously the choice becomes clear. But most don't.

And that's the most generous case I could make. Here's a 270-yard tee shot that went further OB (it nestled against the condo):

ob3.jpg

Know how long that approach shot is? 220 yards. 70 yards back of where the player could hit with a decent tee shot… and farther back than they might be able to get with a hybrid from the tee.

Remember, you said:

On 3/13/2019 at 11:54 PM, Augster said:

BUT, if you are playing with the new local rule in place, unless you hit your drive really really sideways, you’ll be much better off taking the local rule INSTEAD of hitting a provisional. If you hit a provisional ball, you can no longer take the local rule for the previous ball.

Read more  

That doesn't even talk about "the majority of the time" or anything like that. It simply says "you WILL be better MUCH better off."

And I've shown you how that's not necessarily true, with a pretty representative example. Even using the most generous of situations, where the ball goes OB by an inch, you can get 20 yards closer with your second tee shot than by dropping in the edge of the fairway.

You also said:

On 3/13/2019 at 11:54 PM, Augster said:

I’m just saying, the strategy for shooting your best score changes if the local rule is in place. 

It doesn't. Nowhere near always, and not even for most golfers in most situations. They're better off hitting a provisional.

Additionally, if you're ever interested in playing in a tournament where the Local Rule is not in effect, you'd be well served to learning to play a provisional.

15 hours ago, Augster said:

What is a player expected to score when hitting the first OB? Double is a good score and the score he “should” take. Bogey is as rare, or rarer, than the odds of that player making a birdie. Triple or more is the most likely score, unless the player makes lots of “pars” after pumping his first OB. I’ve played with a lot of guys over a ton of rounds over a lot of years. When the first ball is OB, the score they generally shoot is a triple. 

Read more  

What's the golfer going to get from 170 out? They're gonna average more than they will from 150, and they're gonna average even more from 220 than 150, too.

I'm sure you realize they're dropping three and hitting their fourth, yes? So the shots are basically equal, whether you play the Local Rule or play a provisional, except the odds are more often good that the provisional is in a better place.

15 hours ago, Augster said:

BUT, it can be so much worse. Hitting a provisional, that provisional could also be OB. And the next one after that. Or add in with your provisional hitting a ball to an unplayable lie. Also add in the times you hit that provisional into the rough making it marginally, or not so marginally depending on the rough, tougher to score.

Read more  

If the golfer is so bad that they're quite likely to hit another ball OB, then yeah, drop up ahead if you can.

But you're not describing the average golfer, and you're definitely not describing the average type of visitor to a site like this, which tend to cater to better golfers (because we care enough about golf to want to spend our free time chatting about it).

The stats don't back your play in most situations for most players.

For extremely penal/tight conditions and/or a (very) bad golfer? Sure. For the majority of the rest of the situations… no. Hitting a provisional will be the better play.

@Augster, I agree with what Erik wrote here with the examples. They line up with my own assessment of my game (I'm a fairly long hitter who drives the ball wildly) I did when I was evaluating the rule change. There are a few times where the local rule will be better than hitting a provisional, but they're rare.

A shot hit offline isn't going to travel as far towards the target as an average shot in play would be so you're going to be giving up distance. When you're talking about OB you're dropping at the point where the ball crossed the margin which could be dozens of yards behind in terms of distance. If you hit your provisional OB you're likely picking up on the hole anyway and taking ESC so the best chance of saving one stroke would be to try and hit a better tee shot.

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10 hours ago, Buckeyebowman said:

This is the part that keeps confusing me. I've played any number of courses, and in any number of leagues, who had local rules governing balls hit OB. They were generally stroke only penalties in order to keep play moving. But I can't remember a single one that allowed you to drop in the fairway! You were allowed to drop in bounds within 2 club lengths of where you could reasonably ascertain, I suppose that means "guess", where your ball went OB. 

The new local rule for 2019 allows you to drop in the fairway for a 2 stroke penalty.

http://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/rules-hub/rules-modernization/infographics/golf-s-new-rules--stroke-and-distance.html#expanded

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14 minutes ago, klineka said:

That graphic is a great summary of the new Model Local Rule.  For @Buckeyebowman, you can read it in more detail in the Rules in Section 8 of Committee Procedures, Local Rule E-5

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Something else that @Augster doesn't seem to recognize.  A player who is so erratic that he can't trust himself to hit a second tee shot in play, is also very likely to have little or no clue where his next shot is going, from the fairway or not.  That makes the local rule moot as far as any actual scoring comparison is concerned.

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43 minutes ago, Fourputt said:

Something else that @Augster doesn't seem to recognize.  A player who is so erratic that he can't trust himself to hit a second tee shot in play, is also very likely to have little or no clue where his next shot is going, from the fairway or not.  That makes the local rule moot as far as any actual scoring comparison is concerned.

That absolutely is added in and is MORE reason to take the LR. 

 

The worse the player is, the more taking the local rule will save strokes. 

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22 minutes ago, Augster said:

That absolutely is added in and is MORE reason to take the LR. 

The worse the player is, the more taking the local rule will save strokes. 

But the opposite applies at times for better players.  Better players are pretty likely (not guaranteed) to follow a bad shot with a good one, leaving them in better position lying 3 than if they use the Local Rule.

And as @billchao says, it will have a pretty small impact on scoring for handicap posting, which will generally be controlled by ESC (or the maximum hole score in other handicap systems).  Most of my play is in some type of match play format, and a lost or OB usually means a lost hole.  If I've probably lost a hole, I'd rather hit a provisional as a bit of legal practice, as opposed to ending up on the next tee with that OB shot as my most recent drive.

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I never mentioned posting for cap. I never mentioned match play. My statement was, taking the LR instead of a provisional a player will shoot lower scores over time. 

I keep reading the “losing yardage” take. That only matters if the provisional hits the fairway. That’s a big if. Should better players hit the fairway on their second try? Sure they should. But they just put one OB so they don’t have their A swing. 

And even if we grant the player a fairway ball, we are only talking about a fraction of a shot difference. 

An extreme example would be the provisional driven to 100 yards out, and taking the LR drop would be at 200 yards out. This example is completely unrealistic. 

EVEN in that extreme, unrealistic, example, a pro will finish the hole from 100 in 2.80 strokes and from 200, 3.19. That’s 0.39 strokes different. Less than 1/2 a stroke. This unrealistic example would have to happen MORE THAN TWICE to even gain 1 stroke over taking the LR. AND it’d have to be a tour pro. Anyone scratch or worse is going to gain even less. 

If that provisional rolls into the rough at 100 yards, now the pro is down to .17 strokes gained. Basically nothing. 

It’s not worth the risk. 

Players will shoot better scores over time taking the local rule. 

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7 minutes ago, Augster said:

EVEN in that extreme, unrealistic, example, a pro will finish the hole from 100 in 2.80 strokes and from 200, 3.19. That’s 0.39 strokes different. Less than 1/2 a stroke. This unrealistic example would have to happen MORE THAN TWICE to even gain 1 stroke over taking the LR. AND it’d have to be a tour pro. Anyone scratch or worse is going to gain even less. 

If that provisional rolls into the rough at 100 yards, now the pro is down to .17 strokes gained. Basically nothing. 

I might look at it a bit differently.  If a pro is on the tee for a 410 yard hole, he'll average 4.00 strokes to hole out.  That takes into account his good swings and bad, fairway or rough, all in one number.  Add stroke and distance, he'd be expected to take a total of 6.00 after striping one OB.  But if his tee shot was offline, and his E-5 drop leaves him 190 yards in the fairway and lying 3, he's going to take 3.1 more to hole out, or 6.1 total.  He's lost 0.1 by using the local rule.

My guess is that you'll find the difference in scoring for any yardage interval is actually greater for higher handicaps than for good players.  We get much worse much more quickly as we get further from the hole.  

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19 minutes ago, Augster said:

EVEN in that extreme, unrealistic, example, a pro will finish the hole from 100 in 2.80 strokes and from 200, 3.19. That’s 0.39 strokes different. Less than 1/2 a stroke. This unrealistic example would have to happen MORE THAN TWICE to even gain 1 stroke over taking the LR. AND it’d have to be a tour pro. Anyone scratch or worse is going to gain even less. 

I think you have this backwards. Lower skilled players are worse from farther out than higher skilled players. The higher the handicap, the higher the differential. Everyone benefits from being closer to the hole, but higher handicap players stand to gain more than scratch players.

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4 minutes ago, billchao said:

I think you have this backwards. Lower skilled players are worse from farther out than higher skilled players. The higher the handicap, the higher the differential. Everyone benefits from being closer to the hole, but higher handicap players stand to gain more than scratch players.

You guys may be looking at this differently.  My handicap is 20.7 right now, so...bad.  I hit more than 50% fairways in regulation though, and my fairway wood is decent.  When I hit a green in regulation, I am very likely to par.  But my approach shots and chipping are pretty bad.  Par 5 are my favorite, and this is so extreme that I routinely hit *near* the green on a par 5 in 2 only to end up with a bogey.  As long as I'm not expected to have a precise landing zone, I do well.

Nonetheless, we all see that the par 3 holes tend to be the simplest on the course presumably because there are fewer chances to screw up.  (I'm always closest to par just after I place my first tee, and just before my first stroke.  It's downhill from there.)

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8 minutes ago, Cantankerish said:

You guys may be looking at this differently.  My handicap is 20.7 right now, so...bad.  I hit more than 50% fairways in regulation though, and my fairway wood is decent.  When I hit a green in regulation, I am very likely to par.  But my approach shots and chipping are pretty bad.  Par 5 are my favorite, and this is so extreme that I routinely hit *near* the green on a par 5 in 2 only to end up with a bogey.  As long as I'm not expected to have a precise landing zone, I do well.

Nonetheless, we all see that the par 3 holes tend to be the simplest on the course presumably because there are fewer chances to screw up.  (I'm always closest to par just after I place my first tee, and just before my first stroke.  It's downhill from there.)

You're either a bit of an anomaly or you're not tracking your strokes accurately and there might be a bit of confirmation bias going on.

Generally, poorer players lose more strokes on par 5s vs par 3s and the opposite is true for better players.

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7 hours ago, Augster said:

My statement was, taking the LR instead of a provisional a player will shoot lower scores over time.

And it's as wrong now as it was then. For the majority of players most of the time, you're wrong. Especially for the types of golfers on a forum like this.

7 hours ago, Augster said:

I keep reading the “losing yardage” take. That only matters if the provisional hits the fairway.

No, it's not only if you hit the fairway. It's if you hit it any straighter than the OB/lost ball.

7 hours ago, Augster said:

And even if we grant the player a fairway ball, we are only talking about a fraction of a shot difference.

Fractions add up.

7 hours ago, Augster said:

An extreme example would be the provisional driven to 100 yards out, and taking the LR drop would be at 200 yards out. This example is completely unrealistic.

Not really. I showed you pretty easily how you could get to 220 vs. 150.

7 hours ago, Augster said:

EVEN in that extreme, unrealistic, example, a pro will finish the hole from 100 in 2.80 strokes and from 200, 3.19. That’s 0.39 strokes different. Less than 1/2 a stroke.

The gap widens for amateurs.

7 hours ago, Augster said:

If that provisional rolls into the rough at 100 yards, now the pro is down to .17 strokes gained. Basically nothing. 

Those fractions add up. Do that three times and you've gained over half a shot.

7 hours ago, Augster said:

Players will shoot better scores over time taking the local rule. 

True only when you're talking about really poor players on narrow/penal courses.

For most players on most courses, no.

Just repeating it doesn't make it true man.

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On 3/15/2019 at 4:09 PM, billchao said:

You're either a bit of an anomaly or you're not tracking your strokes accurately and there might be a bit of confirmation bias going on.

Generally, poorer players lose more strokes on par 5s vs par 3s and the opposite is true for better players.

Okay, sure. As an example, I played a typical nine yesterday evening.  Like I said, I can get the ball close to the green fairly well.  It just goes to pot from there.

par 5: Drive to left side 1st cut 260 or so off the tee, 3 wood into the front bunker off the green. Out in one, 2 putt. (5)

par 4: Best drive, 288 off the tee. Duffed my gap wedge.  Chip onto the fringe green, 3 putt. (6)

par 3: 5 Hybrid to left fringe, very far from the hole.  Chip on. 2 putt. (4)

par 4: Pwedge off the tee (major dogleg), 8 iron fat to 20 yards off the green.  Chip, 2 putt. (5)

par 4: Long drive just off the green, Chip on, 2 putt. (4)

par 5: Short, low drive, maybe 250 to center of fairway.  3 wood to fairway short of the green.  I blade my Lob wedge over the green. Chip on.  Long putt to finish. (5)

par 4: Tee shot goes banana slice into the water.  Punched 3 hybrid to the fairway.  Approach shot to back of green. 2 putt. (7)

par 3: 7 Iron off the tee goes over the green. Chip on, 2 putt. (4)

par 4: Long drive to right side rough.  Gap wedge over the trees onto the green.  2 putt. (4)

 

But the point is that there are two ways to look at this. I'm just not sure any of this aids in the clarity of the discussion.

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17 minutes ago, Cantankerish said:

par 4: Tee shot goes banana slice into the water.  Punched 3 hybrid to the fairway.  Approach shot to back of green. 2 putt. (7)

Off-topic, but wouldn't that be a 6? 

1. Tee shot

2. Penalty stroke/drop

3. hybrid to fairway

4. approach shot to back of green

5. putt

6. putt

17 minutes ago, Cantankerish said:

Like I said, I can get the ball close to the green fairly well.  It just goes to pot from there.

Duffed gap wedge, 8 iron fat, 7 iron that was over the green are all examples of full swing shots that had nothing to do with your short game that still cost you strokes. You got out of the bunker in one stroke, and didn't seem like you had duffed chips, maybe only the bladed lob wedge, but depending on how far that shot was that might have been considered a full swing shot as well.

Edited by klineka

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