During the 2021 Tour Player Summit*, it was suggested The Tour provide players with a series of educational emails and videos that would help to provide players with information on some of the Rules of Golf. We are excited to continue this journey with you.
In the last email series, we learned about when a provisional ball is permitted. The fourth installment in the Rules series covers when a ball becomes the ball in play or when it must be abandoned (Rule 18.3c). When a provisional ball is played, it is important to know which ball is the ball in play to avoid being penalized for playing a wrong ball.
When a Provisional Ball Becomes the Ball in Play
A player’s provisional ball becomes the ball in play when:
a) The original ball is lost anywhere on the course outside a penalty area or is out of bounds.
b) The provisional is played from a spot that is closer to the hole than where the original is estimated to be.
The original ball becomes lost when three minutes has expired after the player or their caddie begins to search for the ball. A player cannot declare their ball lost. If a ball is found within the search time, the player must make all reasonable efforts to identify it as long as the provisional ball has not been played from a spot closer to the hole than the original was estimated to be.
A player may play a provisional ball more than once without losing its status as a provisional ball as long as it is not played from a spot closer to the hole than the original is estimated to be, but the provisional loses its status when it becomes the ball in play or must be abandoned.