Lost Ball
By Snyper on 9/13/10
Matt is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions of Matt in the comments. Don't hold back- because Matt won't.

Losing your golf ball is never a good thing. Sometimes you know as soon as you make contact that the ball is gone and sometimes it's a surprise. Whichever the case, it is a sinking feeling when you realize that your ball is in jeopardy. The first rule that you need to be aware of as you approach this situation is exactly how long you have to try and locate the ball. From the time that you arrive to the location that the ball was last seen, you have five minutes to search for it. Anyone and everyone is allowed to help you look and locate the ball. However, once that five minutes has expired, your ball is officially lost. Whether or not it is found after that time has elapsed, it is considered to be lost and play must continue accordingly.
If you lost your ball on your tee shot, then you head back and tee it up again.

So, the question is, how should play proceed once your ball is determined to be lost? Well, too often, guys will just drop a ball where they think their last ball was lost and proceed with a one-stroke penalty. While that does keep play moving, it is far from the appropriate procedure for continuing after losing your golf ball. Unfortunately, the options are very limited for what you must do in this situation. It is time to hop back in the cart and head back to the location where you hit your last shot. If you lost your ball on your tee shot, then you head back and tee it up again. However, if you lost your ball on any other shot, you must head back to that location and drop as nearly as possible to the previous lie, no closer to the hole, and play from there with a one-stroke penalty. Because you are returning to the point from which you previously played, the penalty for a lost ball is considered to be stroke and distance. For example, if you hit a ball 200 yards off the tee into high grass and it becomes lost, you must count the original shot, plus a one-stroke penalty, and replay from the original position, thus losing the distance of the first shot. Simply stated, you would be teeing off again and hitting three. That is very different from dropping a ball by the high grass and hitting your third shot from there. If you decide that you are not going to return to the spot of your last shot because the group behind you is waiting, you are walking and don’t feel like going all the way back, or are just too infuriated to bother playing it correctly, you should at least penalize yourself two strokes and be hitting your fourth shot from the location that your ball was last seen. Though it is clearly not playing by the rules, it is much closer than just taking a one stroke penalty and dropping.
You must voice your intention to your playing partners by clearly stating "provisional" or else you are automatically forced to proceed as if your first ball is lost.

To avoid the dilemma of having to go back to the point where you last played after searching for your ball unsuccessfully, you should hit a provisional from that spot before you leave it. If you hit a ball that you think may not be findable, you have the option to drop another ball and hit again just in case you can’t find the first one.

However, be very sure to declare the second ball a provisional before you hit it. You must voice your intention to your playing partners by clearly stating “provisional” or else you are automatically forced to proceed as if your first ball is lost. In other words, if you drop and hit another ball without declaring it a provisional, you just gave yourself a stroke and distance penalty no matter where your first ball is. It could have hit a tree and ended up in the middle of the fairway, but that doesn’t matter now. You have to play your second ball because you never stated it to be a provisional. So, if you think your shot might be lost, hit another to save some time, but be sure to announce that the second ball is strictly a provisional just in case you can’t find the first one. If the first one is found, the provisional is picked up without any penalty and play continues.

Losing your ball is never fun, but it is way less fun when you have to ride or walk back to the spot where you previously played from and do it all over again. So, if there’s any chance that you are going to have trouble locating your shot, be sure to hit a provisional. Remember, if your ball is lost and you play the provisional, you will be laying three and hitting four from the location of that second ball. It is not as simple as just dropping, taking a stroke, and playing from there. You must take a stroke and distance penalty for this mistaken swing. And, it should be noted that if you hit a provisional and then find your first ball, you no longer have the option of playing your provisional. The second ball can only be played if the first one is not located.


* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of oobgolf.

photo source


[ comments ]
lcgolfer64 says:
Had a situation like this yesterday. Friend sprayed one right inot a wooded area so he hit a provisional and then went and looked for his 1st ball, after some time, we didn't keep a clock on it. But I think the key here is: we knew other golfers were getting off the last green) he did find his 1st, but we decided is was unplayable. Since it was friendly game of a couple of guys golfing, we decided to have him hit the provisional lying 3 in the fairway.

I think the important part here was hitting the provisional right away allowed time to look for the 1st without holding up others behind us.
9/13/10
 
mjaber says:
Balls are never lost. They have simply decided to go and find a new owner.
9/13/10
 
Agustin says:
The problem I see with the stroke and distance penalty for a lost ball is that it's much easier to lose a ball when you are playing a round without the benefit of marshalls, fore caddies, etc... like the pro's do. Right now it's rainy season in Mexico and you can lose a ball in the fairway specially off the tee

If you shot was clearly in-play yet you are unable to find the ball you should be penalize with one stroke only and not stroke and distance. The way the rules are currently stated, you can hit a shot into a hazard; not find your ball take a in the line it wnet tinto the hazard and continue play. But if you lose it in the fairway or rough, clearly in play, you have to take a stroke and distance penalty.... Sounds unfair to me.
9/13/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
I have a question about the rules concerning provisionals. Earlier this year on a par 3 I hit my tee shot way left into some high grass. I hit a provisional 3 feet from the hole. With my provisional I have a 3 foot putt for bogey. If I find my first shot, I have to hit out of high grass, get around/over a tree, make it over a small creek, and avoid a green side bunker. I don't want to find my first ball. Do I have to make an honest attempt to look for it? I cannot find the answer to this question in the rules. It seems logical that you must try to find the ball. If not, it would allow for many situation where a player could abuse the rule. For example, you could hit a layup into the fairway in front of a water hazard. Then hit a provisional and go for the green. If the provisional is close or even in the hole you conveniently loose the first ball. If it's not close, no harm done you just find the first ball.
9/13/10
 
lcgolfer64 says:
@mjaber - So true! We found a few while looking looking for his ball yesterday.
9/13/10
 
birdieXris says:
Very good article. What should be a well known rule is covered pretty thoroughly. : )
9/13/10
 
birdieXris says:
@tennesseeboy - check out Decision 27-2b/1 Sounds like your situation exactly:

Q: At a par3 hole a player hits his tee shot into dense woods. He then hits a provisional ball which comes to rest near the hole. in view of the position of the provisional ball, the player does not wish to find his original ball. He does not search for it and walks directly towards the provisional ball to continue play with it. His opponent believes it would be beneficial for him (the opponent) if the original ball were found. May the opponent search for the players ball?

A: yes. in equity (rule 1-4) he may search for five minutes provided that in the meantime the player does not play a stroke with the provisional ball, it being nearer the hole than the place where the original ball is likely to be. The player IS entitled to play such a stroke. If he does, the original ball is lost under rule 27-2b and further search for it would serve no purpose. in match play, if the player so proceeds and his.......
9/13/10
 
Kurt the Knife says:
Returning to the tee box after a search is largley impractical where I play. Too many cats waiting to play. We play a lot of provisionals to keep things moving forward.
9/13/10
 
birdieXris says:
.....provisional ball is closer to the hole than his opponent's ball, his opponent may recall the stroke (rule 10-1c). However, recalling the stroke would not change the status of the original ball, which was lost when the provisional ball was played out of turn. See also Decision 27-2c/2.


Basically stated, If you didn't want to look for it, you could declare it lost,take the penalty for provisional and play out -- however if the guy you were playing with decided to look for it and find it, then you have to play it.
9/13/10
 
Agustin says:
@mjaber - You are not forced to look for the ball; but your competitors may look for it until the 5 min expire or you play yoru next shot (assuming you don't play out for turn). See Decision 27-2.
9/13/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
@birdieXris - Thanks. When you're playing alone or with someone who doesn't care, I think you should make an honest attempt to find the ball. In my situation on the par 3, I found the first ball, hit it into the creek, and made a triple bogey on the hole :(
9/13/10
 
bkuehn1952 says:
A league I played in had a number of inaccurate drivers. We all had league "handicaps" so it was not uncommon for me to give my opponent 1-2 shots a hole. It was hard to beat those guys. They would hit a ball into the schmutz, take a 1 stroke penalty, and proceed to play another ball from an exceedingly generous drop. Needless to say, I would frantically try to find their ball to prevent them from escaping their fate. It is sort of perverse when your opponent is more interested in finding your ball than you are.
9/13/10
 
Banker85 says:
good article. I hate losing a ball in the rough or when you know it was a good shot and the ball is somewhere just cant find it. possibly the most infuriating thing that can happen on the golf course.
9/13/10
 
SweetJazz says:
This is one of the most frustrating parts of golf. Losing a ball when you know your ball landed fair is demoralizing since us high handicappers have so few shots to brag about.
9/13/10
 
MJKern44 says:
After reading this article, I think I am a little confused on the rules regarding "white" stakes from "red" stakes. I was always under the impression that if you hit your tee shot in the stuff where "white" stakes are present then you must tee another up and penalize stroke & distance so you're hitting 3 off the tee. However, I thought if it was red staked, you were allowed to take a drop at the point of entry with a one stroke penalty. I'm going to assume I'm wrong but I didn't see any posts about how the hole was staked so I figured I'd ask?
9/13/10
 
MJKern44 says:
For the record, I rarely loss a ball so I don't have to implemement this rule much but I play with guys that do and I've always stated that is how it is to be played.
9/13/10
 
zeg says:
MJKern: if you know or are virtually certain that the ball is in the hazard, you may play under the more forgiving hazard rule. If you don't have extremely good evidence that the ball is in the hazard, you do not have that option. For example, in the final round of the US Open this year, this bit Dustin Johnson when he hit into a hazard. Everyone "knew" he was in the hazard, but no one could honestly confirm having seen the ball enter. As a result, he had to return to the tee (and the ball was found in the hazard 17 seconds too late to help him).
9/13/10
 
jev says:
@BirdieXris: you can't "declare a ball lost", ever. Not possible. What you can do is play your provisional out of sequence (before your opponent that should hit before you) and have him recall that shot. However, as soon as you shoot that provisional, the provisional becomes the ball in play. Recalling does not change that according to decision 27-2b/1: " recalling the stroke would not change the status of the original ball, which was lost when the provisional ball was played out of turn.".

Now, for all that would like to change the rules so that it would no longer be penalized 1 stroke + distance but drop +2 strokes or something like that, where would you drop?
9/13/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
@jev - I would change the rules to say you can drop the ball with a two stoke penalty where you expected to find the ball but not on the green. This requires some honesty but there are many rules in golf that require honesty. If you're dishonest, you can just say after every bad tee shot that you accidentally hit the ball during a practice swing so the ball was not put in play.
9/13/10
 
Sparker1969 says:
With the advances in technology, I wonder how long it will be until your golf ball can be tracked with your GPS unit. Knowing I'm exactly 153 yards to the pin isn't as important as knowing the ball is five yards to the right of me under a giant oak leaf.
9/13/10
 
cjgiant says:
As in most cases, there are the USGA Rules of Golf, and there are the rules of golf (pace-of-play edition). The benefit of dropping with 2 strokes (which I have employed, mainly when a ball is inexplicably lost), per the latter "rules" is not taking an additional 5 minutes to go back to tee, re-hit, and drive back to ball (and walking??), but trying to live in the spirit of the original rule.

In some cases a drop near "point of loss" may be more penalizing (in trees) than a replacement shot (which could hit fairway). This is countered by the fact that you negate the possibility of losing your replacement shot and hitting 5 from tee.

The key is that in most cases of a lost ball, the golfer knows there is a chance of loss (in trees/thick grass), and SHOULD take a provisional. I always love golfers who KNOW they lost a ball and go forth to take their drop (some very liberally). Usually I don't ask, but I wonder if they even count a penalty.
9/13/10
 
birdieXris says:
@jev - it's completely within the rules to stop looking for it and play the provisional. What else could you possibly call it? "i can't find the ball but i know where it is". By definition that ball is lost. It's done on a daily basis. When was the last time you used the FULL 5 minutes to look for a ball? I did once during the world am but the majority of the time just called off and declared it lost about 2 minutes into it. Also, In fact according to the wording of 27-1a you can put a new ball in play any time if you feel like it. It would not be a provisional but it would be the ball in play. Under 27-1b/2 you can only recall the stroke if it's match play. In stroke play there's no penalty and you are deemed to have abandoned the "lost" ball in favor of the provisional under stroke and distance --- unless again the opponent finds it before you make your stroke on the provisional. All completely within the rules.
9/13/10
 
birdieXris says:
@cjgiant - yea i can't stand those golfers. It's not often but every now and again i get them. It sprays into the thick crap and i say " well don't you want to hit a provisional in case you can't find it?" the answer is almost always "nah that's findable, or i'll just drop one up there". They're only cheating themselves. I can't decide if it's ignorance of the rules or just pride to try and shoot a better score.
9/13/10
 
jev says:
@birdieXris: the net effect ofcourse is the same. The problem I have with the phrase "declaring a ball lost" is that people read or hear it and than think they can always "declare it lost", even if it's found within those 5 mins.

Anyway, I was trying to say 2 things at once (bad idea, I know :)). The second statement was regarding the situation in MP where your opponent decides to search and you play your provisional out of order. Your opponent can require you to replay that ball, but that does not change the fact your original was lost as soon as you played the provisional. Your statement "however if the guy you were playing with decided to look for it and find it, then you have to play it." in that case is not true (the original ball is lost as soon as you play the provi, even when that was out of playing order).
9/14/10
 
jev says:
@tennesseeboy: that simply is not always possible. I'll make it even stronger: that usually is not possible. If I slice my ball into the woods, there absolutely is no way to even remotely identify where it "should be", not within any acceptable margin. That's why the rule currently forces you to return to replay from the same position. Now, one can argue that stroke + penalty is too heavy a penalty when compared to a hazard situation, but that's another issue. If pace of play is that much of an issue that even playing a provisional won't help, maybe it's a good idea to simply play stableford instead of strokeplay. If you can't score on a hole, pick up the ball and continue on the next hole...
9/14/10
 
birdieXris says:
@jev - yea, that's what i said.
9/14/10
 
edditude says:
I've just started doing tournaments this summer and we each get a copy of the rules and theres a note on potential lost balls to call provisionals to keep the temple going with those ahead and behind us. We don't get spotters like pga people get or galleries. Also helps to anounce the balls you are playing and let them know your markings.
9/14/10
 
Bryan K says:
jev:

If you see your ball slice into the woods, then these woods would orinarily be staked...right? I guess on almost all of the courses I play, huge hazards like that tend to have stakes around them that would alter the scenario wildly. So my question is, if you are uncertain where you would drop by slicing into the woods, then could you not just assume that there are red stakes (since there probably should be red stakes anyway)?

I guess I'm confused as to the point you are trying to make. My belief is that the rule should be that, with a lost ball, the drop should occur at the last playable point (or a reasonable substitute) where it can be agreed that the ball flew over. Of course, the exceptions would be those instances where it flew into staked areas, and then those rules should prevail. If you don't even see your ball off the tee, which happens to me occasionally because my eyesight is so poor, then you probably deserve stroke and distance.
9/14/10
 
Bryan K says:
Another provisional story (or lack thereof).

Last Saturday, I hit a tee shot on a par 3 at one of my home courses that physically hit the pin...hard. I heard it. I saw it. The group in front of me heard it. They applauded. Then they went to the next tee.

I never found that ball. Fortunately, I was the last player on the course that night, so no one was behind me. I went back to tee up again, and I got down in three strokes from there. It still hurts to get a double bogey when you hit the pin with your tee shot, but the reason I bring up the story is because there is, at least for me, oftentimes the occurance where the ball SHOULD be in a place that is easy to find but just never turns up.
9/14/10
 
Bryan K says:
Another point...I have also encountered situations where I can't find my ball....and then can't find the divot where I hit my previous shot from.
9/14/10
 
Bryan K says:
And one final nitpick....I tend to lose more provisionals than original shots. Funny how that works. Actually had a hole about a month ago playing my home course from the tips (for the first time) where I lost five provisionals on a 200y forced carry, but thankfully found my original shot. I simply can't imagine laying 12 on the tee.
9/14/10
 
carv712 says:
As a side point, in May I played with a guy who missed almost every fairway, and played provisionals on all but maybe five or six tee shots. However, he found most of his tee balls in the rough. After the front nine, his provisionals started to feel like a waste of time to me and to those souls waiting behind our group.
9/14/10
 
bkuehn1952 says:
@ Bryan: Many courses do not stake forest or heather/grassland as lateral hazards. In fact, several previous posts have indicated the USGA does not endorse creating lateral hazards when it is not a natural collection point for water.

As such, when one hits a ball into these places, there is no "last point of crossing the hazard" from which to take a drop.
9/14/10
 
bkuehn1952 says:
Unless one is playing in a tournament or for money, my suggestion when you lose a ball and you have not hit a provisional is to record the maximum score allowed under ESC. A few times a year I will lose a ball in the rough or because it plugged deeply. Rather than trudge back to the tee, holding everyone up, I will just play the hole for practice and record a double bogey (or triple if the course handicap that day for me is 10+). Might I have scored worse or better? Certainly that is a possibility. However, whether I would have shot a 12 or 5, in the long run it won't affect my handicap significantly. The 12 will get reduced by ESC. If somehow I managed to bogey after a stroke/distance penalty and assuming the round is even one of my 10 best of 20, the one stroke will amounts to a .1 difference in the handicap calculation. Will I boast about what I shot that day? No, because I know the score is not really a valid one, having failed to return to the tee, etc...
9/14/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
@jev - I am not suggesting that you should drop where you think the ball was lost + 2 stokes as an alternative to playing a provisional ball rule. I am suggesting that it should be an alternative to replaying the shot on the rare occasions when you don't hit a provisional. On a public course on a busy Saturday morning, I'm not going to get in the cart and drive back to the tee box to hit another ball after searching for my ball for 5 minutes. Under the USGA rules, this means I don't have a score for the hole so I don't have a valid score for the round.
9/14/10
 
Bryan K says:
bkuehn: But there is a such thing as an "unplayable lie" as well, in which case the closest relief would be very similar to if the area was marked with red stakes (provided you actually saw the ball go into the woods).

My point is that we already have rules on the books that require players to be objective. Saying that "it's just not possible to know where the ball went into the woods" is the same as saying "it's just not possible to know where the ball crossed the red/yellow stakes". If it is impossible to know, then you take stroke and distance. But in most cases, it is not impossible to know, and because this is so, the automatic stroke and distance penalty on a lost ball is just silly. If you saw the ball in the air at some point, then an objective decision can be made as to where an acceptable drop should be.
9/14/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
@ Bryan Kautzman - Rule 28 "Ball Unplayable" gives you three options if you judge your ball to be unplayable. a) Play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played. b) Drop a ball behind the point where the ball lay, keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped. c) Drop a ball within two club-lengths of the spot where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole. To use option B and C, you must find the ball.
9/14/10
 
Bryan K says:
tennesseeboy: I still don't think you're grasping the point. It's not about following the "unplayable ball" rules ad verbatim. It's to make a new rule based on existing rules that make it silly to assume that we can't simply find an acceptable drop location for a lost ball. We can take an unplayable lie...we can drop outside the red or yellow stakes... but we can't make a reasonable assumption as to where the last place a lost ball was seen and take a drop at that point along with a one stroke penalty(no closer to the hole, of course)?

The rule just doesn't make sense to me. At all.
9/14/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
@Bryan Kautzman - I get your point now. I'm opposed to making drastic changes to the traditional rules of golf. The rules make a big slice that goes 100 yards out into a lake better than the same shot that goes 100 yard into the woods. I agree this seems silly but it's always been that way and changing it would make a big difference in the game. Your rule would have dropped my score last Saturday by 6 stokes.

We need a rule that gives the casual weekend golfer an out when he can't find his ball, didn't hit a provisional, and doesn't want to piss off everyone playing behind him. The penalty should be high enough to make sure the new rule does not lower his handicap.
9/14/10
 
Bryan K says:
Tennesseeboy: One question about what you said....that it would be better to slice a ball 100 yards over a lake than 100 yards into the woods. I'm not 100% sure that would be the case. Best case scenario, since we know nothing of the ball once it went into the woods, is that you would have the same drop as if those woods were water. However, what I find would happen most often is that the player would be forced to take a drop in front of the woods, and then still have to take a rescue shot into the fairway. Or the player could rehit from the tee. I'm thinking that the preferrable solution most of the time would be to rehit from the tee when woods are involved.

But even so, I'm not so sure that a shot into the woods SHOULD be worse than a shot into the water unless there is a dreaded white stake at the border of the woods.
9/14/10
 
Bryan K says:
As far as lowering a person's handicap, unless the player shoots in the 40's, what's the most profound effect this rule change could have? In all seriousness, I think I might have saved a dozen strokes all summer by playing by this rule. What's a dozen strokes on 150 rounds? Maybe a half a stroke on my handicap at its peak, perhaps.

But that still leaves us with the quandry of what to do on the par 3 last Saturday where I hit the pin and never saw the ball again. I think the only solution for that instance would be to rehit from the tee.
9/14/10
 
birdieXris says:
I think the sheer length of the replies illustrates very well why the USGA didn't even go there and wrote the rule like it is. ROFL.
9/14/10
 
Bryan K says:
lol....too true.
9/14/10
 
cjgiant says:
@Brian - I think @tennesseeboy was saying the current rules are actually that it is better to slice into a red staked area than an unmarked area. The same concept applies to a red vs white staked area.

In your suggested rule, I would think there would be no difference, as I thought you were suggesting the "natural boundary" of the woods would be deemed marked "red".
9/14/10
 
Letsplay says:
Letsplay says:
Having a tee shot possibly lost, then hitting a provisional and not finding either ball. Going back to rehit from the tee again, would probably get you killed from the group waiting on the tee. It probably would be a good rule, to take a drop in the area where the provisional likely is, and just take 1 additional stroke.
9/14/10
 
cjgiant says:
@Bryan - sorry for misspelling...

@bkuehn1952 - I agree with the ESC concept. Rarely do I score well enough on a hole with a "2-stroke drop" to go under ESC score. If I do, I figure it balances out the rare times I would have done better if I had gone back and dropped. As I mentioned, usually a provisional is in play to negate the need for a decision.

Anyhow, these rules were designed, flawed and all, to maintain a fair basis of competition. For most of us, we are playing against ourselves, so whatever rules you want to hold yourself to, feel free. However, realize what others who know/follow the rules think of ignoring or breaking the rules. Also realize that if you do ever want to compete, that you will likely (in a friendly competition, definitely in a real event) be held to the rules being discussed in these forums.
9/14/10
 
Trav says:
@sparker - There are already systems availabe to do this. www.radargolf.com Maybe they will be added to top-quality balls soon.
9/14/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
Interesting discussion. @cjgiant yes that is what I'm saying. @Bryan it sounds like you have been playing under this rule. I see a lot of guys playing this way when their tee shots is not playable. I'm guessing maybe half of all golfers play that way.

I have never gone back to the tee box to hit another shot when someone is behind me. I have never seen anyone else do it. We all eventually end up in a situation where we need to go hit the shot again but we almost never do. So everyone is either bending the rules or they are disqualifying themselves as the rules require. Most people figure out a way drop a ball and score the hole. Some take no penalty, some one stroke, some two strokes, and most are using these score in their handicap. It would be great if the USGA would give us an option to deal with a lost ball without holding up play and tell us how to score it so we can be consistent. I drop a ball where I expected to find it and take a two stroke penalty.
9/14/10
 
DrumGuy13 says:
Great article, but my handicap just took a hit right in the tenders...
9/15/10
 
jev says:
@Bryan: "If you see your ball slice into the woods, then these woods would orinarily be staked...right?"

No, why would they be staked? They're not out of bounds, they're not a hazard.
9/15/10
 
jev says:
Funny... I never seem to loose a provisional - "every fool can hit a second ball" very much seems to describe my game :D.

@birdieXris: "the USGA didn't even go there and wrote the rule like it is.": I think the USGA didn't write this rule, they just copied it from the R&A.

Here's my theory: the R&A rules primarily are based on linkscourses where either you find your ball in the fairway or don't find it at all in the long grass. There's no way to drop near the position where your ball is presumably lost and end up with a playable lie anyway.

I'm used to going back to the tee in case of a lost ball (but usually play a provisional if there's a chance you won't find it so it's not really holding up play). Also, we use the EGA handicapping system which is based on stableford. If you can't score on a hole, pick up the ball and continue to the next hole. It really speeds up play! :D
9/15/10
 
Tim Horan says:
I cannot see that a ball declared abandoned by the player can possibly be searched for by his opponents and brought back into play. I am thinking here of Tigers Putt a couple of years ago at the Masters where he de-greened into Raes Creek. He then placed another ball on the green took the penalty and putted out. His opponents all knew where his ball was but had no recourse to make him play it which would have meant taking a drop and chipping either from a DZ or some other point no nearer the hole. Once a ball is declared lost or abandoned that ball is not in play
9/15/10
 
Banker85 says:
Unless there is no 1 behind me i will never go back after searching for five minutes and re tee. People would be pissed and most i bet would not understand why. If i dont hit a provisional then i just drop near where i thought it should be and take 2 strokes. one for the penalty and one for the retee, which probably hurts more than helps hcp since if i did hit a good re tee in the fairway i would obviously have a better lie than dropping in the rough near bushes tress what not.
9/15/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
@Tim Horan - The situation you describe is very different. Tiger was taking relief from a water hazard which allowed him to hit another shot from the same location with a one stroke penalty. Let's say the ball rolled off the green and then 50 yards down a hill. If he had said he was hitting a provisional and holed the provisional, then his opponent could search for the ball and make him play it. In reality he would never hit a provisional putt. He would find the ball, declare it unplayable, and putt again with a one stroke penalty.
9/15/10
 
legitimatebeef says:
The more experienced I become as a golfer, the less of a big deal the provisional ball is. It doesn't take up undue time and it should not be a cause of embarrassment for anyone. I'd rather see more players play by the rules even if it slows up play a little. Regardless of what so many people say--"Oh, it's just people having fun, let them do whatever they want as long as it doesn't affect me." Well I think that ultimately when too many people play fast and loose with the basic, primal rules of golf, it starts to degrade the general atmosphere on the golf course. It is bad enough that its a Benny Hill scene with golf carts zig zagging in all directions, balls flying in the air in every which direction but the right one, "Fore!" being shouted all around you...and when people start with their kiddie training-wheel rule bending/breaking it only adds to the shame.
9/15/10
 
zeg says:
@Trav & sparker - devices to assist you in locating your ball are not permitted by the rules. I don't think this is a rule the USGA will be revisiting.
9/15/10
 
zeg says:
@Tim Horan: the issue discussed here pertains *only* to the provisional. You play the provisional in the event that your ball is lost or OB. If your ball is found in bounds, your provisional is abandoned and you cannot use it. When you have found your ball in bounds, you may *always* declare it unplayable (or use one of the water hazard rules in a hazard) to return to the previous location. You can also simply declare your original ball unplayable and hit another immediately, but you then lose the option to continue with the original ball.

If you could just opt to take your provisional would essentially allow you to know the outcome of that penalty before you make the decision, which is why it must be abandoned.
9/15/10
 
biscuit says:
I once lost a ball in the middle of an elevated fairway. When we pulled up to where the ball should have been we found a drain cover out of place. We looked for our aloud five minutes. All we could figure is the ball went down the drain.I Dropped behind the drain without penalty. Was this the rite call?
9/16/10
 
Bryan K says:
biscuit: Nope....in that case you would have to go back to the tee box and rehit, lying two.
9/16/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
@biscuit - The definition of "Ground Under Repair" includes a hole made by the greenkeeper, even if not marked as ground under repair. My interpretation is that if your ball was in the drain you did the right thing. If it was not, you're a cheater :)
9/16/10
 
Bryan K says:
tennesseeboy: Ahh....but since there was no way of knowing whether or not the ball was in the drain, then he has to go back and rehit. A lost ball is a lost ball.
9/16/10
 
cjgiant says:
@bryan/@tennessee - this is the rub of playing golf... there are instances where no one can be "certain" you went into a hazard, just best information possible and agreement of players. A similar item to the explained is when you run into that player out there who will grab your wayward shot as a "free ball", even if you don't see them.

I argue if the best agreement of players is that it went down the drain (or should have been in the fairway), free drop from "GUR" or "ball moved by outside force". We don't all have cameras following our ball. I don't know if that is pure by the rules of golf, probably isn't.
9/16/10
 
cpercy says:
@jev could you explain the EGA handicap system in terms of how you would score the hole and round toward, your handicap if you pick up your ball and move on to the next hole? I'm not familiar with this system but maybe this would be the sensible solution if, there is still some way to record the round for your handicap. Of course as bkuehn1952 says we can always record the max allowed ESC for USGA handicapping purposes. Maybe for pace of play taking a fair drop with two stroke penalty is not a bad way to proceed when you lose a ball and have not hit a provisional. This is not that unusual at my home course where they keep the rough right off the fairways cut at 4"+ to save it from the hot dry summers here in Kansas City. That said if you think it might be lost or OB you should hit the provisional.
9/17/10
 
Bryan K says:
cjgiant: what you explained is the entire problem I have with the rule. If no one saw the ball go into the drain, then it is stroke and distance. This comes into play a LOT. I saw my drive hit a fairway the other day. It bounced to the right towards the water. It would have taken a heck of a roll to get to the water, but there is no other place it could be. I didn't physically SEE it go into the water, so I have to take stroke and distance. Or another example...just last week, I watched a partner's approach shot hit the green and bounce over the hill on the backside. There is water behind that hill. There is no other place the ball could have gone, but since we didn't see it go into the water, it's stroke and distance.

I hate the rule with a passion.

And I'm not a fan of the "rub of the game", either. No offense inended, but I hate that explanation.
9/17/10
 
Trav says:
@zeg: You're right, I knew it's not approved, I thought he was asking about the state of technology.

But since we're talking about the concept - what is the rationale for keeping it non-approved? It doesn't help the lie, or aid your swing. Is it really any different than a rangefinder? If you're allowed to lift-clean-place under some situaitons, why not a finder if your ball is under a leaf this time of year?
9/17/10
 
MiddleAgedGuy says:
@cpercy -- if you pick up without completing the hole, then you figure out your "most likely score" you'd shoot from that point, and write it down preceeded by an 'X', not to exceed your ESC (see Section 4-1 of the USGA Handicap manual). It is then a valid score for handicap purposes, though obviously not in tournaments etc.

bkuehn1952 is a low handicapper where ESC is usually double bogey, so in most cases the ESC will be his Most Likely Score--so it makes sense for him to default to that. It works out differently for high handicappers. I play to a 30, and ESC for me is 9 at my home course. If I lose my tee shot on a busy day: I'm most likely to shoot double bogey if I were to return back to the tee. So I'll assume my most likely score for the hole is an 8 on a par 4 (lying 3 on the tee followed by double bogey). I'll card an 'X8' for handicap purposes, and move on to the next hole to keep the course moving.
9/17/10
 
bkuehn1952 says:
I think MiddleAgedGuy has it right. Estimate what you most likely would have scored and move on when confronted with an unexpected lost ball situation.
9/17/10
 
birdieXris says:
@middle and bk - my problem with that is that you have no idea what could happen on the way there. You could hit a sprinkler head and it could rocket off into the abyss. Or accidently move the ball and cause a penalty stroke. "most likely" isn't a very certain term when you're dealing in golf. Most everything in golf is about being "certain" or being a question of fact. I think taking anything less than ESC if you pick up is wrong and unfair. So you're laying 3 in the fairway hitting 4. What if you had put another bad swing on it and hit it into the woods again. Now youre 6 wherever that ended up - sand, 30 feet, whatever. Then you accidently 3jack the green. 9. If you're going to pick up on a handicap round, you owe it to yourself to put down your ESC, no more no less.
9/17/10
 
cjgiant says:
@Bryan "There is water behind that hill. There is no other place the ball could have gone, but since we didn't see it go into the water, it's stroke and distance."

I think I disagree with your assessment, and that it can be agreed that the ball is in the hazard, as you say: "there is no other place". I believe that falls into the best reasonable outcome of the shot. Otherwise everything would be lost ball, even in a hazard b/c you could say "well maybe it hit a rock in the hazard, bounced out, and then was lost".

I don't think the rule was intended to be "beyond a shadow of a doubt", but towards "more likely than not". Have I used enough quotes yet?

I take no offense, and I don't even think I used the right cliche for what I meant. I don't mind the rule, as I can't think of a better way to implement a lost ball rule that would be completely fair. We have all given the cases where it catches us, but these are more rare than the times when you legitimately expect not to find a ball.
9/17/10
 
cjgiant says:
@birdieXris - if I am not mistaken, however, if you finish like 16 holes of golf, then for HC purposes, you take what you most likely would have gotten on the remaining holes to post. And that is further defined, I believe, as par + HC strokes for the hole (depending on hole HC).

I think an example is better than that explanation: as a 9HC on a course, hole 17 is HC #18, I would take par, hole 18 is HC #3, I would take bogey. Now this is only for HC, much like an ESC is only for HC, and obviously has no point as a real score.
9/17/10
 
cpercy says:
@middle: I play to a 12 handicap, 14 course handicap for my home course so the ESC is a 7 for me. On a par 4, lying 3 for my second shot will likely net me a 6 or 7 for the hole, so I guess using the ESC score would work out about right. On a par three though a 7 might be a bit stiff. Better to hit a provisional if there is any chance its lost.
9/17/10
 
MiddleAgedGuy says:
@birdie - I think USGA acknowledges uncertainty where they define "Most Likely Score" as "the number of strokes already taken plus, in the player's best judgment, the number of strokes the player would take to complete the hole from that position more than half the time." In this case we’re told to use judgment.

I’m a bit anal on stats (at oobgolf go figure), and know I lose 40% of strokes above par in the short game and 60% to full swing/penalties. When lying 3 in the fairway, more than half the time I'd hit to the green and two-putt, plus an extra stroke. If picking up I’d card a X7. Putting ESC (9 or 10), could arguably result in a sandbagged handicap. Esp. if I pick up a few times per round (sadly not uncommon) it starts to add up.

But my opinion on which to use is irrelevant--I'm doing what Section 4-1 says to. If they said use ESC when picking up, I would. I just try to follow the system whatever it is so that my handicap index has the context that USGA intends.
9/17/10
 
MiddleAgedGuy says:
@cpercy - definitely agree on all points

@cjgiant - I see you play Reston National too... Bleep-ing 4th hole short & right of green and 13th hole right of the fairway -- where I get most of my experience picking up with no provisional hit because I was just *sure* I'd find the ball...
9/17/10
 
huntersunited says:
played round yesterday and my playing partner lost his ball and dropped and played another after our grouped had looked for the lost ball for about 5 mins. After he played his 1st drop shot he had another but was then directed to his lost ball by grounds staff. He says he should have been allowed to play that ball, but to me he has made two mistakes. One he should have gone back to the tee and played his penalty from there or he should have at least taken a two stroke penalty from nearset point to which he thought he lost ball. Is this right and should i be made to feel bad for pointing out the penalty.??
11/29/10
 
sengaphone says:
Question: If a player hits a driver on the tee box, it goes over some trees (that are still in bounds) but fades over into the red hazard line and deemed unplayable, does he have to drop where it entered over the tree line (point of entry), or 100 yards down the hill where the ball is found to have crossed just over the hazard line?
7/9/14
 
nancym says:
Love to see people play by the rules and, if everyone played by the rules, we'd all be playing the same game. Unfortunately, lots of players (including members of the PGA) apply variables and contingencies for lost balls (and other situations) when they're competing in Pro-Am events--gimmes, if you will. These "pros" are perpetuating a game that is nothing akin to the game of golf. Shame on them.
2/5/15
 
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