Has it ever occurred to you that you can take a lot of advantage on the course by having a sound understanding of the rules of golf? Knowing them well means not only avoiding the embarrassment of being regarded as a cheat or getting unnecessarily penalised. It also means you can often get away with wayward or unlucky shots by using the rules to work for you. Really, no golfer can enjoy the game to its fullest without knowing all its rules well, so remember to flip through the rule book and refresh yourself from time to time.
In this issue, I've chosen to explain about the 'Provisional Ball' and 'Unplayable Ball'. On more than a few occasions at my home club, players have raised the issue that quite a few golfers were dropping in the wrong place after declaring their ball unplayable and also that they were not playing a provisional ball off the tee even when the ball had gone towards an area where it could not be easily found. Let's look at these rules.
Provisional Ball (from Rule 27-2): If a ball maybe lost outside a water hazard or out of bounds, to save time the player may play another ball provisionally from as near as possible to the spot where the last shot was played. The player must inform the opponent (in match play) or fellow competitor or marker (in stroke play) that s/he intends to play a provisional ball. If a player fails to inform and plays another shot from the tee, the player will incur the penalty of one stroke and distance, and the new ball will be in play.
You are allowed five minutes to search for the first ball and if you find it within this stipulated time, the provisional ball is abandoned and you must continue play with that first ball. If you don't find the original ball within five minutes, the provisional ball becomes ball in play. If the provisional ball is not been found during the first five-minute search, you get additional five minutes to search for the provisional ball. In case the original ball and provisional ball both head towards an area where they may not be found or be out of bounds, you can also play a second provisional ball.
Please always play a provisional if you think your ball might be lost or out of bounds. This is good etiquette as it saves a lot of time for both your group and anyone waiting behind you.
Unplayable Ball (from Rule 28): A player is allowed to declare a ball unplayable anywhere on the course except in a water hazard. If the ball is unplayable in a bunker you must drop the ball in the bunker (even with a penalty stroke) or play the shot from where the last stroke was played.
So if you declare your ball unplayable, what are the options available? First remember to always announce your intention and mark the ball before lifting it. Then, adding a one-stroke penalty, the choices are:
a. Play another ball from as near as possible to where the original shot was played.
b. Taking the flag in line with the ball, drop the ball as far behind as you wish, ensuring the ball is dropped on a straight line behind the original lie, in line with the flag.
Drop the ball within two club lengths, not nearer to the hole, from the original lie. I am sure you will be extra careful in following these and other rules accurately. In return you will soon see the benefits received.
Junior golf: Golf should be taken up when you're young. This is when people are most receptive to learning. Le Meridien Kathmandu, Gokarna Forest Golf Resort & Spa is organising a Junior Golf Summer Program for children aged 10-19 that starts on 11 July. I will be one of the professionals conducting the program, so don't miss this opportunity to give your kids a golfing head start. 4450444/1212