Provisional Balls – Rule Reminder

We all know the advice to play a provisional ball if we are concerned that our ball might be out of bounds or lost outside a penalty area. This not only speeds up play, but saves us a long and lonely walk back to where we played from before. Here are a few reminders:

  • Firstly, take a breath, don’t rush, and make sure you are thinking clearly.
  • Make sure you announce you are playing “a PROVISIONAL ball”. If you just say “I’ll hit another” that new ball will become the ball in play as soon as you hit it. (If you are playing with someone who says this then help them out by asking specifically “Are you playing a PROVISIONAL ball?”)
  • Don’t forget you now have a relief area to drop in which is within 1 club length of the place you just played from (but not nearer the hole). So don’t drop it back in the divot you’ve just made. Also, you may be able to legitimately drop in a more favourable position
  • If it was a tee shot you can play from anywhere in the Teeing Area and the ball can be re-teed
  • You can now walk forward and then go back to play a provisional ball
  • A provisional ball only becomes the ball in play (you can’t “declare a ball lost”) when either:
    • You play it from nearer the hole than where you believe your first ball to be
    • 3 minutes have elapsed from when you first started looking and you haven’t found your first ball
  • You can’t normally play a provisional ball if your ball might be in a penalty area. However, we do have a local rule at Cumberwell allowing this in specific circumstances – more of that on another week…

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