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Provisional Ball


By Ryan Gregg, Director of Education and Rules


Playing efficient golf and keeping pace with the players in front of you is a very important part of the game of golf. Properly playing a provisional ball is a great way to save time throughout your round.


The provisional ball must be announced and identified to fellow competitors. “I’m hitting another one” is not sufficient. “This is a provisional.”


if his original ball might be out of bounds or lost outside a water hazard. A player may not play a provisional ball if he thinks the original ball may be in a water hazard. A pro- visional ball is used to save the time of walking back to the tee and then forward again if the original ball is not found. A common occurrence is that a player will search for a couple of minutes and tell his fellow competitors to keep searching while he returns to the tee to play a provisional ball. This is not a provisional ball because, once again, a provisional ball is used to save time and must be played before going forward to search.


A 64 / NCGA.ORG / SUMMER 2012


player is permitted to play a provisional ball


If the original ball (the white ball in the woods) is found, the provisional ball (yellow) must be abandoned, even if it’s in a better location. The original ball is still the ball in play in this scenario.


To play a provisional


ball, the player must state that he is doing so to his opponent or fellow com- petitor before he goes forward to search for the original ball. If the player doesn’t do either or plays a provisional ball for a ball in


a water hazard, that second ball is not a provisional ball but becomes the ball in play under penalty of one stroke and the original ball is a lost ball. If the first provisional ball may also be lost or out of bounds, the rules allow the player to play another


If the original ball is found, strokes and penalty strokes incurred by playing the provisional ball do not count.


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