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  1. #1
    "Richard"
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    What does it mean when you play a provisional ball?

    I'm new to golf and my friend plays provisional balls all the time. He told me that he doesn't know where his first ball went so plays a second one off the tee. Then we go to his second ball, he doesn't even look for the first one. Then after he shoots his provisonal ball he usually finds his first ball and plays it. Is he allowed to do this? What is the rule with provisional balls? What is to stop someone from taking one on every hole? Isn't he supposed to take a drop where the ball went out of bounds?

  2. #2
    7 Iron HiG4s is on a distinguished road
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    Well let see, I may be wrong but I'm the first one here.. I believe that a provisional is a "just in case I can't find the first ball and it is stroke and distance" meaning that if you play the provisional after the tee shot, it is the 4th stroke.. But if you find your first ball you are suppose to play it.. with the exception that if you already hit your 4th shot by hitting the provisional ball it is too late to find the original ball and play it.

  3. #3
    Golf Canada Rules Official L4 BC MIST is on a distinguished road
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    Quote Originally Posted by thotho
    I'm new to golf and my friend plays provisional balls all the time. He told me that he doesn't know where his first ball went so plays a second one off the tee. Then we go to his second ball, he doesn't even look for the first one. Then after he shoots his provisonal ball he usually finds his first ball and plays it. Is he allowed to do this? What is the rule with provisional balls? What is to stop someone from taking one on every hole? Isn't he supposed to take a drop where the ball went out of bounds?
    If a golfer thinks that his ball may be LOST or OUT OF BOUNDS, he may elect to play a provisional ball. If the golfer thinks that the ball may be "LOST" in a water hazard, he may NOT play a provisional.

    If the golfer's ball is found before within 5 minutes of his starting to look for it, the provisional ball MUST be abandoned, and the original ball must be played. No choice here. If the provisional ball ends up short of where the original ball was thought to be lost, the provisional ball may be struck until it is at or past where the ball was likely to be lost. If the original is then found, the provisional is abandoned and the original must be played.

    A golfer may NOT declare a ball lost. It is lost if it cannot be found in 5 minutes of his side, himself, partner, caddie, starting to look for it. If he has made a stroke at a substituted ball (a provisional, which must be declared) or if he has made a stroke from a point at or beyond where the original ball was likely to have been lost.

  4. #4
    Hopelessly Addicted broken27 is on a distinguished road broken27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC MIST
    If a golfer thinks that his ball may be LOST or OUT OF BOUNDS, he may elect to play a provisional ball. If the golfer thinks that the ball may be "LOST" in a water hazard, he may NOT play a provisional.

    If the golfer's ball is found before within 5 minutes of his starting to look for it, the provisional ball MUST be abandoned, and the original ball must be played. No choice here. If the provisional ball ends up short of where the original ball was thought to be lost, the provisional ball may be struck until it is at or past where the ball was likely to be lost. If the original is then found, the provisional is abandoned and the original must be played.

    A golfer may NOT declare a ball lost. It is lost if it cannot be found in 5 minutes of his side, himself, partner, caddie, starting to look for it. If he has made a stroke at a substituted ball (a provisional, which must be declared) or if he has made a stroke from a point at or beyond where the original ball was likely to have been lost.
    Don't really follow the last sentence Lyle... Could you please finish it? The rest was very helpful for me, as I (as a fairly uneducated golfer) tend to play "provisionals" even in cases where a water hazard may be the culprit... It is of no benefit, 9 times out of 10, since taking the lateral hazard drop would be better than the hurried "re-hit" provisional shot I usually end up with....

    Fortunately, I have not had this problem much recently.

    Dan

    Appreciate the info.

    Dan
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  5. #5
    RulesNut Gary Hill is on a distinguished road Gary Hill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC MIST
    If he has made a stroke at a substituted ball (a provisional, which must be declared)
    A substituted ball can NEVER be a provisional ball.

    A provisional ball and a substituted ball are two completely separate entities.

  6. #6
    I Just Won't Leave covanant is on a distinguished road covanant's Avatar
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    If you elect to play the second ball,it's still a one stroke penalty right?

    Like taking a drop?
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  7. #7
    "Richard"
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    ok well we don't really look for the balls for 5 minutes. The guys behind us would be really mad if we looked for 5 minutes for every ball we lost (we lose a lot). What happens if in the following situations.

    1. He hits the ball, I see where it went and I can clearly see that it is in the trees way out of bounds and he wants to use a provisonal ball. Should he take thr drop where it went out of bounds or should he rehit knowing the ball is lost for sure?


    2. He hits the ball and we dont' know where it is. He plays his provisional ball and then takes his second shot with the ball and on the way to his third shot on that provisional ball he finds his first ball... is he allowed to play the first ball with no penalty??

    3. He hits his provisional shot and loses it as well...


    IS there any way that someone can benifit from taking a provisional ball? Or should I just let him take it and lose a stroke? I'm so confused

  8. #8
    RulesNut Gary Hill is on a distinguished road Gary Hill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by covanant
    If you elect to play the second ball,it's still a one stroke penalty right?
    Careful.... a second ball is something else again; Different from both a provisional ball and a substituted ball.

    If the original ball is lost, the provisional ball becomes the ball in play under penalty of one stroke.

    The original ball is lost if:
    1. Five minutes has elapsed since the search began; OR
    2. the player makes a stroke with the provisional ball from the place where the original ball is likely to be or a point nearer the hole than that place.

  9. #9
    "Richard"
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    I guess my quesiton is why would anyone play a provisional ball when they can just drop it where it went into the forrest (that is usually where he ends up taking his provisional ball shots)

  10. #10
    "Richard"
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    A provisional ball can only be played off the tee?? Or can you take one in the middle of the hole? What if you lose the ball on the second shot? How would you know where exactly to take the provisional ball from?

  11. #11
    RulesNut Gary Hill is on a distinguished road Gary Hill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thotho
    I guess my quesiton is why would anyone play a provisional ball when they can just drop it where it went into the forrest (that is usually where he ends up taking his provisional ball shots)
    Under NO circumstances are you allowed to drop where it went into the forrest.

  12. #12
    "Richard"
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    Ok, so I lose a ball in the forrest... what do I do?

  13. #13
    RulesNut Gary Hill is on a distinguished road Gary Hill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thotho
    A provisional ball can only be played off the tee?? Or can you take one in the middle of the hole? What if you lose the ball on the second shot? How would you know where exactly to take the provisional ball from?
    A provisional ball may be played anytime a player thinks his ball may be lost outside a water hazard.
    A provisional ball must be played as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played.

  14. #14
    RulesNut Gary Hill is on a distinguished road Gary Hill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thotho
    Ok, so I lose a ball in the forrest... what do I do?
    If a ball is lost or is out of bounds, the player must play a ball, under penalty of one stroke, as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played.

    Note the word "must". There is no alternative.

  15. #15
    I Just Won't Leave covanant is on a distinguished road covanant's Avatar
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    o.k that makes sense now,but is there a stroke penalty?

    You answered before i posted this!
    It's all clear now.
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  16. #16
    "Richard"
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    OK so this is what I'm getting from this thread. If I hit a ball off the tee and it goes into the forrest I can play a provisional ball and hope that I find my original ball... if I don't find it then I take the stroke and just play the provisional?

    What if I hit a ball off the tee and know that it is so far into the forrest that I will not find it for sure 100%..the ball is lost. Then I just rehit form the tee and and that is my 3rd shot ?


    If this were to happen somewhere in the fairway and I hit a shot into the forrest and it was lost... I would rehit my ball from the spot I just hit correct? I guess that is why people play a provisional ball in the first place. This is starting to make sense now

  17. #17
    RulesNut Gary Hill is on a distinguished road Gary Hill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thotho
    OK so this is what I'm getting from this thread. If I hit a ball off the tee and it goes into the forrest I can play a provisional ball and hope that I find my original ball... if I don't find it then I take the stroke and just play the provisional?
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by thotho
    What if I hit a ball off the tee and know that it is so far into the forrest that I will not find it for sure 100%..the ball is lost. Then I just rehit form the tee and and that is my 3rd shot ?
    Yes.


    Quote Originally Posted by thotho
    If this were to happen somewhere in the fairway and I hit a shot into the forrest and it was lost... I would rehit my ball from the spot I just hit correct? I guess that is why people play a provisional ball in the first place. This is starting to make sense now
    Yes.

  18. #18
    "Richard"
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    THANK YOU for clearing that up. You have no idea how many times I've thought about this. My next question is about water hazards but I'll start another thread for that I guess

  19. #19
    "Richard"
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    I knew I would be asking a question in this thread pretty soon. Here is what happened.

    My friend hit a ball into the forrest. He played a provisional ball and put it right in the middle of the fairway. He went to go look for his ball but didn't really do a good job of looking for it. I suspected that he had found it and went to go look, found it and pointed it out to him. I couldn't help but laugh because it was the worse lie i have ever seen. trees everywhere, can't pitch or punch out. We were on the right side of the fairway and it was a dog leg left so he couldn't even pull it out farther back along the line between the ball and the flag an simply call it unplayable as he would just be farther in the forrest so I told him he had to play it or re-tee it. He picked up his ball and walked over to his provisional (i assumed to pick it up) and played it. I asked him what he was doing and he said, well thats why you play provisional balls.. in case something like that happens. I told him that the provisional ball was just an extension of the first shot and once it was found the provisional is done. He could just go back an tee it up again if he wanted. He said he was sure the provisional ball could be used also when calling the ball unplayable since it would speed things up and save you from walking back and hitting another ball. This kind of made sense to me since it does save time and also if a ball is lost you have to re-tee and also if you declare it unplayable but then what would be to stop someone from playing a provisional on everyhole they shank a drive on? Anyway, what was the right call?

  20. #20
    RulesNut Gary Hill is on a distinguished road Gary Hill's Avatar
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    See Rule 27-2.

  21. #21
    "Richard"
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    I read all the rules before asking the questions. I do that now and as you can see my volume of questions has gone down but how I missed this... I have no clue. It was written out so clearly and asked and answered the question so clearly. I need to read more carefully. Anyway, thanks garry. So what can one do in the situation? go back to the tee and tee up another shot? What if there is a group behind you?

  22. #22
    Hopelessly Addicted el tigre is on a distinguished road el tigre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thotho
    So what can one do in the situation? go back to the tee and tee up another shot? What if there is a group behind you?
    You had it right the first time - play it or declare it unplayable and take the best option (which may mean going back to the tee).

    I've seen a lot of people use the "speed up play" line as an excuse to ignore the rules and prevent taking a high number on a hole. If he really doesn't want to walk back to the tee with a group behind him, then play the ball as it lies or drop one. If it takes him 2 or 3 or 4 shots to get out of the woods, so be it.
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  23. #23
    "Richard"
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    I just talked to him. I told him I he had played it wrong and that next time if time is an issue I don't have a problem with dropping one where it went out of bounds IF he would agree that he is shooting 4 but he said no, he would be shooting 3. I said, had he gone back and teed up again and hit it right to whre I'm saying drop it... you would now be shooting 4. Then he said, yeah but who is to say that it wouldn't be farther up in the fairway? Well in that case play it out of the forrest then. Its the only other option. FOr the sake of speeding up the game I don't mind dropping a ball where it was lost but I do have a problem when the player thinks he is shooting 3 and not 4 if it was a tee shot. Would you go back and tee it up Tigre? I just play the ball or declare it unplayable. If it takes me 3 shots to get out, then so be it.

  24. #24
    Hopelessly Addicted el tigre is on a distinguished road el tigre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thotho
    Would you go back and tee it up Tigre? I just play the ball or declare it unplayable. If it takes me 3 shots to get out, then so be it.
    If the course is not busy, then yes I would go back to the tee. If the course is busy, I would play it or declare it unplayable and drop - and curse myself for my stupidity!

    BTW, I assume this was a "competitve" round of some sort. Personally, if it is a non-tournament round and/or if there is no money on the line, then I would not go looking for someone else's ball if he does not want it to be found.
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  25. #25
    "Richard"
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    We were playing for $$$ and it didn't matter because I still lost. If it was just for fun, I don't even keeps core for the other people, i just see what their total on 18 is and accept it as fact But when you are bettting you can't let anyone cheat

  26. #26
    Birdie g8r is on a distinguished road
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    If i'm reading this correctly.....
    If the ball was in the forest and the forest is out of bounds, then he was right to play the provisional. And he is shooting 4 from the provisional.
    You can't play a ball that is OB, even if it by a half inch and you have a perfect lie....if the forest is not marked OB, then he would have to play it, decalre unplayable or go back..right?
    You can't only play by some of the rules (i.e. let him drop and play it 4) because that is no different than dropping and playing it as shot 3...neither way is correct.

  27. #27
    "Richard"
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    it wasn't out of bounds. It was just in the forrest. I wanted him to go back and play it again but he didn't want to. He dropped it and played 3. Now that I know the rule, my other question is, when playing for fun with friends but still trying to keep acurate score to see who wins... what is the right call? Can you actually go back and re-te your ball while they have been waiting for a few minutes in he tee box while you look for your ball? I personally wouldn't re-tee it. I would try to play it

  28. #28
    Big_duck
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    Quote Originally Posted by thotho
    it wasn't out of bounds. It was just in the forrest. I wanted him to go back and play it again but he didn't want to. He dropped it and played 3. Now that I know the rule, my other question is, when playing for fun with friends but still trying to keep acurate score to see who wins... what is the right call? Can you actually go back and re-te your ball while they have been waiting for a few minutes in he tee box while you look for your ball? I personally wouldn't re-tee it. I would try to play it
    You could. How understanding the group behind you is depends on wether or not THEY know the rules.

  29. #29
    1 Iron Tanglegrip is on a distinguished road Tanglegrip's Avatar
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    Who wins?

    Quote Originally Posted by thotho
    it wasn't out of bounds. It was just in the forrest. I wanted him to go back and play it again but he didn't want to. He dropped it and played 3. Now that I know the rule, my other question is, when playing for fun with friends but still trying to keep acurate score to see who wins... what is the right call? Can you actually go back and re-te your ball while they have been waiting for a few minutes in he tee box while you look for your ball? I personally wouldn't re-tee it. I would try to play it
    The only way to know who wins is to know and follow all of the Rules of Golf. BTW the lowest score wins.

    If you're the only one in your group that knows the rules you do have to use your best judgement on how to inform your FC about the rules, otherwise they may not be your friends at the end of the round!

    There's also a certain etiquette to be followed amongst friends. For the shot well into the trees, with the hearty sound of the ball richotcheting from tree to tree, we always assume that the ball has managed to end up close to the fairway so that's where we look. If the FC who hit the ball wants to look 20 yards into the bushes that's his call, not ours. We will help him look in the bushes if that's where he heads but otherwise we look only where we assume he would want to find it and have a decent shot.

    Usually we take 1-2 minutes (or less) looking and then the FC hits his next shot using his provisional ball. BTW its always a good idea to hit a provisional when you hear the ball hitting a tree and you don't see it rebound back into the middle of the fairway.

    Just remember that golf is also supposed to be fun. If your FC don't know the rules break it to them gently. There's even some that will save you strokes!

    Enjoy!

  30. #30
    Caddy jmr73 is on a distinguished road jmr73's Avatar
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    I think you are a little confused here. Seems like other people have been confused and are giving you bad advice. Don't ever go back to the tee box and re-tee (unless the course is empty). That is why provisionals are used.

    Quote Originally Posted by thotho
    My friend hit a ball into the forrest. He played a provisional ball and put it right in the middle of the fairway. ....
    Ok... this is fine

    Quote Originally Posted by thotho
    He picked up his ball and walked over to his provisional (i assumed to pick it up) and played it. I asked him what he was doing and he said, well thats why you play provisional balls.. in case something like that happens. ..........
    That is right. He hit the provisional ball in case he was O.B. and would need to re-tee. He re-teed while he was at the tee-box so he would not have to return.

    Quote Originally Posted by thotho
    I told him that the provisional ball was just an extension of the first shot and once it was found the provisional is done. ......He could just go back an tee it up again if he wanted.
    Wrong

    Quote Originally Posted by thotho
    what would be to stop someone from playing a provisional on everyhole they shank a drive on? Anyway, what was the right call?
    they would be shooting 4 off of every hole. Why do you think people would abuse using provisionals. It is not an advantage. Just a method to avoid people returning to the tee... (which you were recommending). I better not see you coming back to the tee expecting to re-hit.

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