Rules of Golf Quiz #3

Jim Ferree, PGA, Head Golf Professional

Answer to Rules Quiz #2 In this case, Curly cannot use his provisional ball to complete the hole.  The provisional ball rule is provided as a time saver when a player thinks his ball might be lost outside a penalty area or out of bounds.  In either instance the player must go back to where they played the previous shot and with a 1-stroke penalty put another ball in play.  Once Curly’s ball was found within the 3-minute search time his original ball was neither lost or out of bounds and therefore in play. 

Unfortunately, Curly’s ball was unplayable and the only practical option of the three available was to take the 1-stroke penalty and go back to where he hit his previous shot (which was off the tee).  Since Curly had already hit a provisional ball before he left the tee it seemed only practical that he could go over and play his provisional lying 3 hitting 4, but the rules of golf do not permit that.  The snag in Curly not being able to go to his provisional is that the option to hitting a provisional ball is only allowed when the original ball is lost outside a penalty area or out of bounds – two very specific conditions.  Once Curly’s ball was found on the golf course the provisional ball was voided.  For Curly to use option 3 of the unplayable ball rule he would have to return to the tee and hit his third shot from there.

Rules Quiz #3:
Now let’s take this same scenario with a slightly different situation. Suppose Curly surveyed the area where his original ball was and decided to abandon his first ball and go play his provisional ball. However, before the 3-minute search time was up, Larry and Moe looked for and found Curly’s original ball in the big bush.

Can Curly play his provisional ball or is he required to play his original ball?