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Lost Ball, What Are Your Options?

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Ive searched through, and couldn't find this exact scenario which is why I'm posting a new thread.  What do you do in the following scenarios:

1) Off the tee, you think you hit a good shot on the fairway, or just on the rough.  When approaching the area where you think your ball is, you cannot find it.  What are your options?  Do you have to get back to the tee to hit another ball?  Or do you drop a ball where you think you lost it and take a penalty?  

2) Off the tee, you hit a ball 250 yards downrange, but out of bounds.  Do you get to drop next to where the ball exited in bounds to out of bounds and take a penalty?  Or do you need to hit a new ball off the tee?

3) Similarly, you hit a second shot and the ball goes out of bounds directly to the left of the green.  Do you have to hit another ball from the place of your 2nd shot or do you get to drop out of bounds to the left of the green where your ball left the in bounds area to out of bounds?

Thanks!  My assumption has always been you have to re-hit from the original shot in all of the above.  However, this causes disruption for foursomes playing behind.

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Unless a Local Rule is in place (mostly for leagues and things to help pace of play), OB/Lost balls are always stroke and distance. Re-hit from the same location as the lost/OB stroke was hit from, and add a penalty stroke. So if you hit it OB off the tee in one, you're hitting your third from the same teeing area.

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Lost ball or OB is loss of stroke and distance.  You can avoid the disruption by playing a provisional if there is a chance the ball will be lost or is flirting with OB.

Ninja'd…...

Edited by Papa Steve 55

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http://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/rules/rules-2019/rules-of-golf/rules-and-interpretations.html#!ruletype=pe&section=rule&rulenum=18

Please note that you are now only allowed 3 minutes to find your ball, down from 5.

Oh, and please hit a provisional if you suspect your ball is lost.

Edited by chspeed

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I get the “play a provisional” and that was always the case. 

 

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. 

 

The local rule is a guaranteed drop in the fairway under a 2 stroke penalty. 

 

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

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7 hours ago, Augster said:

I get the “play a provisional” and that was always the case. 

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. 

The local rule is a guaranteed drop in the fairway under a 2 stroke penalty. 

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

I don't think this is absolutely true.  Sure, if you hit a ball solid, and it doesn't hit trees or anything else, you're generally right.  But if you've mishit the ball even a little bit, its LIKELY to be well short of your normal distance, so your drop (in the wide relief area which includes a bit of fairway) has to be well short of your normal distance.  I'd generally prefer a provisional whenever I think a ball might be lost, because I expect to hit my provisional solid.  Solid means I hit it past where my mis-hit original would be, closer to the hole.

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On 3/1/2019 at 4:26 PM, iacas said:

Unless a Local Rule is in place (mostly for leagues and things to help pace of play), OB/Lost balls are always stroke and distance. Re-hit from the same location as the lost/OB stroke was hit from, and add a penalty stroke. So if you hit it OB off the tee in one, you're hitting your third from the same teeing area.

 There remains a lot of confusion over this, even though there shouldn’t be. 

 I played with a pretty good golfer earlier this week, who genenerally has a good understanding of the rules, and he was under the impression that the allowable LR was in fact, one of the changes as an actual option under Rule 18.

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11 hours ago, 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.

I don't necessarily agree, for the same reasons @DaveP043 stated. A ball hit offline is not likely to go as far as a ball hit online. So I'm still quite likely to hit provisionals (not that the Local Rule will be in effect for me very often, if ever).

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I did say “really really sideways”. If a player just hit a push or a pull OB, or straight through a dogleg, or it rolls the full length and OB, a player is better off taking the LR. 

He just hit one terribly. The odds of him hitting another terribly have gone up a lot based on the previous ball. He’s obviously not striping it. 

With the LR, he is guaranteed a ball in play AND a ball in the fairway. A provisional ball doesn’t guarantee either. In fact, there are so many bad situations a provisional ball can get a player in, really, in most cases, it makes no sense to hit one. 

A player will score better, overall, taking the LR most every time. 

 

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I have a question on this issue also.

I occasionally play on a course with lots of fallen leaves on the fairway.  It is a fairly common occurrence for a good, clearly fairway-struck drive to "disappear" under those leaves or just be too difficult to find in a reasonable amount of time.  In fact, it is routine to find some other player's ball while looking for your own because the issue is so prevalent.  My buddies and I always end up looking at each other for guidance as to what to do here.  One of my friends noted that PGA golfers do not even have to watch their ball land because there are plenty of people to spot it - and that the rules are meant to govern them.  He goes on to say that in a case like this it makes perfect sense to simply guess where the ball is and hit a new one with no penalty to keep from holding up the group behind us.  The straight-up rules feel draconian and not intended for this scenario, but his interpretation still makes me uneasy.  What is the deal?

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34 minutes ago, Augster said:

A player will score better, overall, taking the LR most every time. 

You can't say that. It's simply not accurate.

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1 hour ago, Cantankerish said:

He goes on to say that in a case like this it makes perfect sense to simply guess where the ball is and hit a new one with no penalty to keep from holding up the group behind us. 

If your just out for a practice / fun round where the score really doesn't matter, I do the same thing quite often.  If I see the ball go off into the trees or heavy brush, I just hit a provisional and 99% of the time won't even look for the 1st one.  Just depends.  If the score matters for whatever reason, then by all means, play the rules.

Just My Opinion.......

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1 hour ago, Augster said:

I did say “really really sideways”. If a player just hit a push or a pull OB, or straight through a dogleg, or it rolls the full length and OB, a player is better off taking the LR. 

He just hit one terribly. The odds of him hitting another terribly have gone up a lot based on the previous ball. He’s obviously not striping it. 

With the LR, he is guaranteed a ball in play AND a ball in the fairway. A provisional ball doesn’t guarantee either. In fact, there are so many bad situations a provisional ball can get a player in, really, in most cases, it makes no sense to hit one. 

A player will score better, overall, taking the LR most every time. 

You said "really really" sideways.  I said poorly, which covers a whole lot more situations.  For me, a poor shot goes shorter than a well-struck straight shot.  I hit a pretty fair proportion of well-struck straight shots, so MY best play in most situations is to play a provisional, and expect a good one.  

In my opinion, the results will vary with the player, and with the individual situations.  I don't think there's a blanket "most every time" generalization that can be made.

1 hour ago, Cantankerish said:

I have a question on this issue also.

I occasionally play on a course with lots of fallen leaves on the fairway.  It is a fairly common occurrence for a good, clearly fairway-struck drive to "disappear" under those leaves or just be too difficult to find in a reasonable amount of time.  In fact, it is routine to find some other player's ball while looking for your own because the issue is so prevalent.  My buddies and I always end up looking at each other for guidance as to what to do here.  One of my friends noted that PGA golfers do not even have to watch their ball land because there are plenty of people to spot it - and that the rules are meant to govern them.  He goes on to say that in a case like this it makes perfect sense to simply guess where the ball is and hit a new one with no penalty to keep from holding up the group behind us.  The straight-up rules feel draconian and not intended for this scenario, but his interpretation still makes me uneasy.  What is the deal?

Your friend is wrong, the rules are meant to govern all of us, not just the pros.  I agree, the lost ball rule is particularly strict, especially when the leaves are on the ground.  On the other hand, the Rules of Golf offer the following model local rule for your club to enact for just this situation

Quote

“During play of the [specify hole number], any ground with temporary accumulations of [identify types of loose impediments ] in the general area or in a bunker is treated as ground under repair from which free relief is allowed under Rule 16.1.

If your ball is known or virtually certain to be lost within the Ground Under Repair, you can take free relief.  Check out 16.1.e for more information.

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4 hours ago, iacas said:

You can't say that. It's simply not accurate.

It is accurate. 

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. 

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. 

Add up all those odds. Those will be the times the player makes triple, or worse.  Then compare them to the amount of times the player hits the fairway. Add all that together and compare to the LR which is a drop in the fairway hitting the 4th shot 100% of the time. 

Based on all that, over time, the player taking the LR will score better than the player hitting the provisional. 

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Just now, Augster said:

It is accurate.

It really isn't. And a big part of the reason why is that you made a sweeping generalization as if your advice is correct for all golfers in all situations. You didn't say "the majority of the time" or anything like that.

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:

17 hours ago, 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.

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:

17 hours ago, 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.

44 minutes 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. 

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.

44 minutes 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.

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.

44 minutes ago, Augster said:

Based on all that, over time, the player taking the LR will score better than the player hitting the provisional. 

The stats don't back that up in the majority of situations for the majority of players.

Maybe your experience is with really poor golfers or on a very tight/penal type course.

P.S. Never mind that a lot of golfers who will be employing this Local Rule are playing in a league or something where they will often just pick up after triple or something, anyway, so giving them the best chance for a double is often wise. Or I've seen guys just post their ESC and not even play the rest of the hole under the Rules at all. Which is fine if their ESC is double or occasionally triple.

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So, in general, you think adding in hitting another ball OB, adding in hitting the ball to an unplayable spot, adding in losing a ball in play, and adding in hitting it into the rough to make it harder to score, adding the odds on all that possibly happening adds up to ZERO?

Then odds of any of that happening on the provisional ball has to add up to a zero percent chance of happeneing VS. dropping in the fairway. 

If there is only a 1% cumulative total of all those things having a chance of happening (which is INCREDIBLY low IMO) my statement is correct. Over time, dropping in the fairway will yield lower scores. 

I could do the math and all the odds of each happening, and come up with a very accurate guess on how much more likely a player will shoot a better score dropping in the fairway instead of playing a provisional ball, but it’d be a waste of time. The answer is already there in front of us. 

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28 minutes ago, Augster said:

So, in general, you think adding in hitting another ball OB, adding in hitting the ball to an unplayable spot, adding in losing a ball in play, and adding in hitting it into the rough to make it harder to score, adding the odds on all that possibly happening adds up to ZERO?

I never said that it was zero.

28 minutes ago, Augster said:

Then odds of any of that happening on the provisional ball has to add up to a zero percent chance of happeneing VS. dropping in the fairway.

No it doesn't.

28 minutes ago, Augster said:

If there is only a 1% cumulative total of all those things having a chance of happening (which is INCREDIBLY low IMO) my statement is correct. Over time, dropping in the fairway will yield lower scores. 

You're not very good at math, dude.

Players make better scores from 150 than they do from 170, which are better than they do from 195, which are better than they make from 220.

28 minutes ago, Augster said:

I could do the math and all the odds of each happening, and come up with a very accurate guess on how much more likely a player will shoot a better score dropping in the fairway instead of playing a provisional ball, but it’d be a waste of time. The answer is already there in front of us. 

I've done that math, and it contradicts your assumptions.

Like I said, you must either play an incredibly penal course or with some very poor golfers. Decent golfers don't often hit two rope hooks in a row, for example.

P.S. I'm not just an average golfer, nor an average instructor. I've got quite a background in understanding these types of things. I wrote Lowest Score Wins, and have access to a bunch of data on average golfers.

Just by what you've said here, I'd guess your answer to this question is going to be pretty far off: how many penalty strokes, on average, does a 5-9 handicap golfer take per round? How about a 20-24 handicapper?

And remember, you stated this as if it applied to everyone, always, in saying "you WILL be MUCH better off…". That's not accurate. I'm not better off hitting dropping at 190 than I am playing from 150 on the hole above. And there are plenty of other situations where plenty of other people are better off playing the provisional, too.

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