Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rules of Golf - Ball Lost or Out of Bounds

If I hit the tee ball in play (it does not even have to be in the fairway), generally my worst score should be a bogey. A few pars interspersed with bogeys and maybe a double bogey and birdie here and there and I am shooting in the mid-80s! This game is easy.

When I am struggling, it is usually because of my driver. Hitting your tee ball out-of-bounds one time per round will hurt your handicap, but hitting it out of bounds two or three times per round will drive you to (1) drink (which may loosen you up!), (2) give up the game of golf or (3) put your driver in the bag and take out your 3-wood. I am a glutton for punishment and don't drink so I continue to hit my driver. Albert Einstein described this as "insanity": doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!

Rule 27 generally provides that if your golf ball is lost or out of bounds, you are assessed a "stroke and distance" penalty. I think this penalty is too harsh and slows the pace of play. And if you are playing Titleist Pro V golf balls, at $4 per ball, loss of the golf ball should be penalty enough!

Therefore, as the rules Committee, I invoke the local rule that all out-of-bounds areas are treated as modified lateral hazards, in which case you take a penalty stroke and are permitted to drop the golf ball in the short rough (using your foot wedge to provide a reasonable lie), 90 degrees from the location where the ball came to rest (not where it entered the hazard or out-of-bounds area). Further, the lost ball rule is null and void under my local rules. Either the ball is out-of-bounds, hiding in the desert or "hiding in plain sight". If it is out-of-bounds or hiding in the desert, you apply the above rule and take your penalty stroke and play on. If you hit a good shot and there is no way the ball should be lost, but you cannot find the ball, it must be "hiding in plain sight", in which case you may drop a new ball in the location where the ball should have been without taking a penalty stroke. The Committee's rationale for this local rule is that if you were a PGA Tour player, it would be almost impossible to lose a well-struck ball given the television cameras, the gallery, the marshals and your caddie.

If you are a stickler for the Rules of Golf, Rule 27 includes a subsection on playing a provisional ball. After hitting a wayward tee shot, rather than walking to the location of the ball to determine whether it is in bounds or out of bounds and then making the walk of shame back to the tee box while the next group is waiting, the Rules of Golf magnanimously permit you to hit a "provisional ball". You must announce to your playing partners that you are in fact hitting a provisional ball before striking the second tee ball. Then, if the first tee ball is out-of-bounds or lost your provisional ball is treated as your third stroke after taking the one-stroke penalty. If you are lucky and the first tee ball is not out-of-bounds or lost, you can treat the provisional ball as a practice shot without any penalty! No harm, no foul. This Rule applies to all shots lost or hit out-of-bounds, but the major culprit is typically the tee ball.

For those players like me, the Rules also provide for additional provisional balls if your prior provisional ball may be lost or out-of-bounds. In "The Rules of Golf in Plain English", Kuhn and Garner explain the Rule as follows: "Any additional provisional ball bears the same relationship to the previous provisional ball as the first provisional ball bears to the original". Now that is plain English! And you wonder why I invoke the modified lateral hazard local rule.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dustin Johnson (the leader, of all people) just lost a ball in the rough! He's walking back to the tee box right now to re-hit. And he had a small army of people helping him look!

Chad Feldheimer