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Explanations of Rules:

Nearest Point of Relief Bunkers Water Hazards Lateral Hazards Relief Situations Casual Water Stakes and Boundry Fences Ball at Rest Moved Provisional Ball













Provisional Ball


We now will look at the Provisional Ball rule and when you can and cannot invoke this rule.

You stand on the  tee and carve the ball right into the trees in the direction of the hazard. You hear the ball hit the trees but do not see where your ball finished up. You look for the ball but cannot find it. There are a few scenarios of what may have happened to the ball.

It may be in the hazard.

It may have landed a long way from the search area after it hit the trees.

It may just be lost in the rough, and you cannot see it.

 So what to do now?

Do you drop a ball at the hazard?

NO: In order to apply the water hazard rule, it must be Known or virtually certain that the ball is actually in the water hazard. Since you heard it hit the trees it is most uncertain that the ball went into the hazard, therefore you cannot invoke this rule.


Can you go back to the tee and play a Provisional ball and leave your partners looking for the original ball?

NO: You cannot search for your ball then decide to return to the tee and play a provisional ball while your partners continue to look for your original ball. You must declare your intention to play a provisional ball before you move forward, in this case before you leave the tee. You can make your way back to the tee to play another ball while your playing partners look for the original ball, but once you have played the second ball, that becomes the ball in play. 

REMEMBER: If you do need to go back to the tee to play another ball, you MUST call the group behind through if they are already on the tee, and wait until they are out of reach before continuing to play. 


You hear the ball hit the trees, this should tell you that the ball may be difficult to find. To save time you should to play another ball in accordance with Rule 27.1 (Lost Ball). You must inform your marker or your fellow competitor that you intend to play a provisional ball and you must play it before you go forward to search for your original ball.

OK, you play the provisional ball but you don't reach the point where your original ball is likely to be, can you hit the provisional ball again?

YES: The rule states that you can continue to play the provisional ball until you reach the place where your original ball is likely to be.

What if you play a second shot with your provisional ball then look behind you to see your original ball has hit a tree and come back in the fairway?

TOO LATE: Once you played the provisional ball from a point forward of your original ball the provisional ball is the ball in play and the original ball must be discarded.


Another Scenario:

You hit your provisional ball straight up the fairway in perfect position, when you go to search for the original ball, you find it in a really bad position (e.g. in a hazard, between 2 tree roots). Can you decide to play the provisional?


If the original ball is neither lost nor out of bounds, you must abandon the provisional ball and continue to play with the original.

To find out more about the provisional ball rule check out Rule 27-2





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