Tips on Learning the New Rules of Golf
Tip #9: Rule 18.2a: When Ball is Lost or Out of Bounds
Molly Cooper, Certified PGA Professional
Director of Tournament & Member Programs
Welcome back to our monthly Rules article to help guide you to a successful 2019 season and beyond. I can’t believe it is September already!
PGA Members, the PNW PGA Professional Championship entry deadline is coming up FAST! The entry deadline is on September 4 at 11:59 PM. Enter today! Don't forget the deadline, as we will not be accepting late entries. Indian Summer G&CC is in fantastic shape. Go to pgatournaments.com to enter.
I chose my ninth topic to discuss 18.2a: When Ball is Lost or Out of Bounds, as we have experienced multiple questions during Section tournaments this year on this rule. I think we have experienced more questions on this than any other rule for 2019.
Rule 18.2a: When Ball is Lost or Out of Bounds
(1) When Ball Is Lost. A ball is lost if not found in three minutes after the player or his or her caddie begins to search for it.
If a ball is found in that time but its uncertain whether it is the player’s ball:
- The player must promptly attempt to identify the ball (see Rule 7.2) and is allowed a reasonable time to do so, even if that happens after the three-minute search time has ended.
- This includes a reasonable time to get to the ball if the player is not where the ball is found.
If the player does not identify his or her ball in that reasonable time, the ball is lost.
If the ball is lost, that means the provisional ball now becomes your ball in play. That’s it. Sounds easy right?
Where we have seen people confused is twofold. One, how do we know it’s been three minutes when we don’t look at the clock? Two, when does the ball search begin?
Let’s tackle the first question. Take a watch out. Start a timer for three minutes. It really is that easy!
The second question is just as easy. Search begins when you or your caddie have started looking for the ball. Or in the case of a team competition, the three minute starts when the first team member or their caddie starts looking for the ball.
The rules do not have to be that hard. Sometimes it is just that simple.
You hit a ball off line. When search begins, get the watch out (or a phone). Start the clock when the player, their caddie or, in the case of it being a team competition, the partner or their caddie starts looking for the ball. You then get three minutes in which to either find the ball or have located a ball that you need to identify whether it is your ball.
That’s it. Once the three minutes ball search expires, the original ball is now a lost ball. EVEN IF YOU FIND IT AFTER THE THREE MINUTES. If you do happen to find a ball after the three minutes expired, that ball is no longer in play.
If you hit a provisional, that ball now has become the ball in play. If you did not hit a provisional, the ball is lost and play under stroke and distance.
I hope this little explanation has helped some in your understanding of the rules. This rule has had many questions this tournament season. I thought it could be a good topic to discuss and move forward successfully on.
I know I say this every month but please download the new Rules of Golf App on your phone. I can not stress how convenient it is and how easy it is to use. The search engine on the App is amazing! You just type in what you are looking for and you immediately have the answer at your fingertips.
Let me know if you have any questions!