The Search For Your Golf Ball Shortens | Rule 18-2
As you all know by now, there has been a major revision to the Rules of Golf. After an extensive review, the R&A and the USGA have modernized the Rules of Golf to make them easier to understand and apply. Over the course of 2019, Mike Fay Golf will cover many of the changes in print and through video.
One change that I would like everyone to be aware of is the new time frame for searching for a lost ball. The new rule, which is now 18.2a, When Your Ball Is Lost or Out of Bounds, states “Your Ball is lost if not found in three minutes after you or your Caddie begin to search for it. If a ball is found in that time but it is uncertain whether it is your ball: You must promptly attempt to identify the ball and are allowed a reasonable time to do so, even if that happens after the three minute search time has ended. This includes a reasonable time to get to the ball if the player is not where the ball is found. If the player does not identify his or her ball in that reasonable time, the ball is lost.”
So, the time frame for searching for a lost ball has gone from five minutes to three minutes under the new Rules. Limiting the search time to three minutes is more consistent with the underlying principle that golf is to be played in a prompt and continuous way, without long pauses in play. In most cases, if a ball is going to be found, it will be found in the first three minutes of the search.
Although this change may increase the number of lost balls, on average the overall impact should be to speed up play. Knowing that the search time is limited to three minutes should encourage players to play a provisional ball when they believe there is a chance their ball may not be found.
We welcome your questions and comments on this Rule or any others. Please address all questions and comments to Mike Fay Golf. Until next time, we hope you are Playing By The Rules!
PGA Rules Official | PGA Master Professional
Frank Guastella has over 35 years of golf management experience focused on planning, marketing, operations and administration at leading golf facilities. Currently, Frank serves as a PGA Teaching Professional at St. Clair Golf Club in St. Clair, Michigan
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