Can I play a lost ball from its point of entry, if not out of bounds?

>
Published 25/08/2013 12:11:10
 

You see this happen all the time, especially during a busy weekend at the course.

Shane tees off on a par-4 hole that has heavy brush running down the left side, which is not marked as a hazard or out of bounds, and deposits his shot in the brush. After searching the brush for the allowable 5 minutes under the USGA rules, with the group behind his anxiously tapping their toes on the box, Shane picks out the closest point where the ball entered the brush, drops, and proceeds to hit his next shot.

Shane gets on the green with the dropped shot, sinks the putt, takes a penalty stroke for the lost ball, and gives himself a par on the hole. Did Shane record the correct score?

"No," says Ken Holubec, the head professional at The Buckhorn Golf Course in the hill country town of Comfort. "It's a lost ball and he has to go back to where he originally hit it."

Rule 27-1 of The Rules of Golf, states the player "shall play a ball, under penalty of one stroke, as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played."

Holubec said Shane was correct in going to look for his ball, but should have gone back to the tee box to hit again after not finding the ball within the alloted 5 minutes. The practicality of such a move makes this rule an often-broken one in this age of crowded daily fee play and impatient, uninformed golfers, but Holubec says Shane could have avoided a return trip to the box and an edgy group waiting there by re-teeing and hitting a provisioanl ball right away before proceeding to look for the first ball.

"It's like out of bounds, they're played the same way," Holubec said. "After 5 minutes, you go back to where you hit it from. It's always good to hit a provisional ball whenever there's a question. Then check in the pro shop with the pros. You don't want to be going back and forth. If you're not sure you're going to find it, hit the provisional."

Too many players, Holubec says, mistakenly play the lost ball like a hazard ball. But remember a hazard should always be marked with red stakes. Out of bounds is identified at many courses with white stakes, but also can be determined by fences, rails, walls and painted lines on the ground.

The exception would be a local rule, used by courses on holes with special conditions like unplayable areas, in order to maintain the pace of play.

"We have a local rule where if you hit it in the high heather, you play it as a lateral hazard," Holubec says of The Bandit in New Braunfels, one of the courses owned by Buckhorn management company Foresight Golf. "This is a local rule, but local rules needs to be stated on the scorecard."

Under the loss ball rule, Shane must be penalized an additional two strokes for playing the shot incorrectly. If it was a match-play event, the infraction would have resulted in the loss of the hole.




Comments


1.  "We have a local rule where if you hit it in the high heather, you play it as a lateral hazard," Holubec says of The Bandit in New Braunfels, one of the courses owned by Buckhorn management company Foresight Golf. "This is a local rule, but local rules needs to be stated on the scorecard."

Such a local rule is specifically prohibited by the USGA/R&A

comment by Doug - 08/01/2015 14:34

2.  Had a situation last night in a 9 hole Men's Club match. Player hit his second shot to the green from about 200 yards. Hit mound on right side of green and misses green. Looks for ball and can't find it, but finds a drainage hole about 8" wide with no cap on it where ball may have landed. You could not see this from where he hit the shot. He assumes his ball went in drainage hole, 10 yards away is heavy fescue. To me ball could be there, odds of it in drainage hole, not good. No one saw it go in there. I say it's a lost ball, did not hit a provisional and it's a two stroke penalty. Thank you.

comment by Eddie Neas - 23/06/2015 14:31

Add your comment