By far, the most confusing aspect of the game of golf is the Rules. Thank goodness for Dr. Robin Farran. Dr. Farran teaches Advanced Rules at the Golf Academy of America in Phoenix and is one of the USGA’s top Rules Officials. He helps write and edit the actual rule book.
Dr. Farran is also one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, and he’s kind enough to email out a little clarity on the subject in the form of bi-weekly rules scenarios. It’s a little segment I like to call, Diary of a USGA Rules Official.
In this month’s installment, Dr. Farran breaks down an incident sent into him by one of his many followers. This actually happened here in Arizona earlier this month:
Recent Arizona Incident
Player A’s second shot from the fairway heads left toward bad country. Player A properly plays a provisional ball which lands in the fairway.
Player A, after a brief search, finds his original ball in a terrible lie in a bush.
After considering playing the ball in the bush, Player A picked up his original ball and continued the hole with his provisional ball.
When approached by an official near the green and asked whether he had found his original ball, Player A responded that he had found his original ball in a terrible lie and decided to continue play of the hole with his provisional ball.
The official and Player A returned to the bush, the location of the ball played from the fairway, and after clarification of his options, Player A dropped a ball properly under Rule 28c with guidance from the official.
Player A played the dropped ball to a spot just off the green and finished the hole in two additional strokes.
What was Player A’s score for the hole?
**Player A’s score for the hole was 9. The provisional ball became a wrong ball when Player A found his original ball within the 5-minute search time. Player A incurred a penalty of two strokes for play of a wrong ball (Rule 15-3) and was required to correct the error by continuing the hole with the original ball.
When Player A picked up his original ball from the bush, Player A incurred a penalty of one stroke under Rule 18-2 and was required to replace the ball or proceed under an applicable Rule. Player A incurred a penalty of one stroke under Rule 28c and played 3 additional strokes to complete the hole.
5 talent strokes (stroke from TG, stroke from fairway and three strokes to complete hole), plus 4 penalty strokes (1 Rule 18-2, 2 R 15-3, 1 R 28) for a score of 9.
1. Player A’s tee shot heads toward a lateral water hazard surrounded by vegetation left of the fairway. Being unsure if the ball will be found, Player A properly announces and plays a provisional ball. The second ball played was a career shot, landing about 80 yards beyond the lateral water hazard.
When Player A approaches the lateral water hazard, he is informed by the players in the preceding group that his tee shot landed in the middle of the hazard. Player A decided to continue the hole with his provisional ball.
**Player A is disqualified. Although Player A’s original ball was not found or identified, as noted in Rule 27-2c, if it is known or virtually certain that the original ball is in a water hazard, the provisional ball must be abandoned; the original provisional ball is now a wrong ball. (Also, see Decision 27-2a/2.5.)
2. On the 18th hole at ASU-Karsten, Player B’s 2nd shot from the fairway lands on the cart path right of the putting green and bounces onto the roof of the clubhouse. Not knowing if the clubhouse is out of bounds, Player B properly announces and plays a provisional ball. The ball played provisionally comes to rest 6 inches from the flagstick.
A tournament official near the clubhouse informs Player B that the clubhouse is an obstruction and although the location of the ball on the clubhouse is not known, for the purpose of taking relief without penalty, the reference for relief is where the ball crossed the outermost limits of the obstruction.
After considering where he would take relief and the location of his provisional ball, Player B completed the hole with his provisional ball, sinking his 6-inch putt for a 5.
**Player B has proceeded in accordance with the Rules. Player B may proceed under Rule 24-3 or continue play with the provisional ball – see Exception to Rule 27-2b.
3. Player A’s second shot from the fairway heads towards “bad country”. After Player A and his fellow-competitors search for 2 minutes, Player A announces that he will return to where he last played and play a provisional ball while his fellow-competitors continue search.
Player A drops a ball where he last played and prior to play of the dropped ball and before the 5-minute search time expires, one of Player A’s fellow-competitors calls to Player A that his original ball has been found.
**The dropped ball was dropped under an inapplicable Rule. Rule 27-2a is not applicable since Player A had gone forward to search for his original ball. Rule 20-6 permits Player A to lift (or abandon) the dropped ball and proceed in accordance with the Rules. Player A’s original ball is Player A’s ball in play.
4. Player B’s ball played from the fairway lands on the left side of the fairway and rolls towards a row of white OB stakes near some vegetation and home sites. Player B takes a ball out of his bag and drops the ball as near as possible to where his previous stroke was played. Prior to a stroke at the dropped ball, a nearby referee asks Player B if he is intending to play a provisional ball.
Player B announces to the referee and his opponent, “I am playing a provisional ball. This ball has 4 black dots. My original ball has 3 black dots”.
**The second ball played by Player B, the ball with 4 black dots, is a provisional ball. Rule 27-2a requires the announcement of intent to play a ball provisionally to be made prior to playing the ball.