Replaying from the tee.

by Chris M
(Oxfordshire, UK.)

A 190 yard par three has a line of bushes down the left hand side. The out of bounds stakes are a couple of feet inside the bushes. Hitting a tee shot pin high but left into these bushes I play a provisional ball from the tee. After a 200 yard walk I find the first ball in the bushes but still in bounds. The ball is unplayable - any two club length drop would be nearer the hole and it is impossible to drop back in line with the pin. The only option is to go back to the tee to play my third shot. Why don’t the rules allow my provisional to be used in this situation thus saving time, holdups and an additional 400 yard walk? In other words the provisional is ‘provisional’ on my first ball being OOB, lost or unplayable.

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May 25, 2021

by: Douglas

Hey Chris - That's a great question and a situation that many amateur golfers may face from time to time without truly knowing how to handle the possibly complicated circumstances.

The simple answer though is that a provisional ball is played when it is believed that the first ball is lost or out of bounds. If the first ball is then located in play within the allotted 3 minute search time, then that remains the ball in play and the use of the provisional ball is abandoned. If the first ball is found in a lie determined to be unplayable, the golfer may then proceed under the rules of taking relief of a penalty stroke to then put the ball into a position from which it can legally be played.

This video on YouTube may help to clearly define the situation -

In your situation Chris, the club length rule of relief is taken from the nearest point of relief no nearer the hole. You're not taking two club lengths from the spot in which the ball lay unplayable, but rather two club lengths from the point at which relief has been determined to exist no nearer the hole.

If you had not found your original ball, you'd then be hitting 4 from where your provisional ball came to rest (1 out - re-tee 2 - hit 3 from the tee). Having found your original ball, you now get to take the relief described above and put that ball into play under penalty of one stroke for an unplayable lie and you'd then be hitting 3 on that ball once relief is taken.

Playing this situation properly saves you 1 stroke.

I hope that helps and thanks for visiting I also hope you enjoy your time here and all the content provided. Be sure to take advantage of the many places to add additional content to the site by posting Entertaining Golf Stories from your rounds on the Golf Stories page and maybe hit the Wall Of Fame on the Aces & Eagles page if you have any to report.

Thanks again Chris and remember to "Hit 'em Straight and Not Too Often"!

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