Searching for a ball—part 2

  • Following on from the last point, once a player has dropped a ball with the intention of playing under penalty of stroke and distance, that ball is in play and the original ball is lost, even though no stroke has been made at it before the original ball is found within five minutes of search starting for it (decision 27-1/2).

The situation is slightly different if the ball was played from the teeing ground, as a ball may be teed up and addressed, but is not in play until a stroke has been made at it.

  • If a player knows that their ball has definitely come to rest in an area of ground under repair, casual water or any other abnormal ground condition, they do not have to search for it, they may take relief without penalty, using the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the abnormal ground condition as the reference point for dropping their ball (rule 25-1c).
  • In stroke play, there is no penalty when a player accidentally moves the ball of a fellow competitor but, in match play. an opponent does incur a penalty of one stroke, unless they were searching for it when they accidentally moved it.

In every situation where a ball is accidentally moved, it must be replaced (rule 18-3a).

  • A player is permitted a total of five minutes to search for their ball. So, if they find their ball after a two-minute search, leave the area to get a club and are then unable to find it, they have three more minutes to search before it is lost (decision 27/3).
  • A player is allowed five minutes to search for their original ball and five more minutes to search for their provisional ball, unless the two balls are so close together that, in effect, both balls would be searched for simultaneously, when a total of five minutes is allowed for both balls (decision 27/4).
  • A player may search for a lost ball after putting another ball into play, but must not play the first ball if they find it and must not unduly delay play while searching for it (decision 27/9).

The author is a R&A certified tournament administrator and referee. He is also a teaching professional and a member of the Professional Golf Association of South Africa. For feedback, or call 0888 346 510.

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