As your go-to golf course in Doral, we often encounter players, particularly first time and occasional players, asking things related to provisional ball when scenarios like out of bounds golf ball occurs. You are probably one of those who want to understand this technicality in golf and the way to do that is to have clear answers to frequently asked questions about it, so read on.
What is a provisional ball?
A provisional ball is an option taken into account in a golf game under penalty of stroke and distance to save time when the ball in play might have gone out of bounds or be lost outside a penalty area.
In other words, this is the second ball you play when you believe your first ball (the one in play) may be lost but not in a penalty area or out of bounds. Otherwise, as defined in the Rules of golf, a provisional ball is not an option or is not allowed.
Is provisional ball important or really necessary?
It is one of the most useful Rules in the golf book and its ultimate purpose is to save time. Looking for your lost golf ball may take some time – time which the game of golf needs to keep things moving on schedule. (Recommended reading: How to hit a golf ball)
How many strokes is a provisional ball?
It is one stroke. Just one. But do note that you also get a penalty of stroke and distance with it. And there may be special cases wherein you could hit a provisional ball more than once – a scenario which is also covered by one of the questions answered here.
When can you play a provisional ball?
You can call on this option when your ball might be lost outside a penalty area or be out of bounds. That means to say you can’t play a provisional ball when you are aware that your ball is lost in the penalty area. Also, before you hit your provisional ball, it is important that you announce it to all those involved in the game and clearly state that you are playing a provisional ball.
When does provisional ball become the ball in play?
This is actually a good question. We know a provisional ball acts as a secondary ball, but only to a certain degree. Basically, you can proceed on playing your provisional ball up until you reach the place where the first ball (the one lost) is likely to be. Making a stroke from that point makes your provisional ball the ball in play and the first one is rendered lost.
Can you hit a provisional ball twice?
You might also wonder how many times you can hit your provisional ball before it becomes the ball in play. The answer to this basically depends on the distance covered by the strokes made onto the provisional ball against the place where the first (original) ball was anticipated to be lost.
As mentioned in the previous answer, the provisional ball only becomes the ball in play when played at the place where the original ball is likely to be.
Considering that, should your first provisional hit come up short and does not level to the place the lost ball is anticipated to be, then you are going to hit your provisional ball the second time.
Golf makes all these rules to ensure a smooth and bounded experience between players and Provisional Ball defined under Rule 18.3 is just one to make sure the game continues.