Playing A Provisional Ball

Playing By The Rules

Rule 27 deals with Ball Lost or Out of Bounds; Provisional Ball.  If we go to Rule 27 – 2 Provisional Ball, we find the procedure for playing a provisional ball.  The procedure states: “If a ball may be lost outside a water hazard or may be out of bounds, to save time the player may play another ball provisionally in accordance with Rule 27 – 1.  The player must inform his opponent in match play or his marker or fellow-competitor in stroke play that he intends to play a provisional ball, and he must play it before he or his partner goes forward to search for the original ball.  If he fails to do so and plays another ball, that ball is not a provisional ball and becomes the ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 27 – 1); the original ball is lost.”

Rule 27 – 2a specifically provides that the player must inform his opponent, marker or fellow competitor that he intends to play a provisional ball. The players statement must specifically mention the words “provisional ball” or must make it clear that he is proceeding under Rule 27 – 2a.  Therefore a player who says nothing has put another ball into play.  The following examples of statements that DO NOT satisfy the requirements of announcing a provisional ball: (a) “That might be lost so I am going to re-load.” (b) “That one might be out of here.” (c) “I’d better hit another one.” (d) “I hit that one so deep into the woods I will never find it so I’ll play another.”  The best thing you can say is:  “I believe that ball may be out of bounds so I am going to play a provisional ball.”  Terminology is everything so make sure you use the proper language when announcing your provisional ball intentions.

Frank Guastella, PGA Rules Official Michigan Section PGA
Staff Writer, Mike Fay Golf
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