Provisional Ball, Golf Term

What is a Provisional Ball in Golf?

A Provisional Ball is a term used in golf to describe a second ball that a player hits when there is a chance that their first shot might be lost or out of bounds. The purpose of hitting a Provisional Ball is to save time if the original ball cannot be found, ensuring that the player does not have to return to the original spot to replay the shot.

Here are some key points to understand about Provisional Balls:

  • A Provisional Ball can only be played if there is doubt about the outcome or location of the original shot.
  • It is important to declare the ball as provisional before teeing off, hitting the second shot. Failure to do so will result in the provisional ball becoming the official ball in play.
  • The player must announce clearly and explicitly that the ball being played is provisional.
  • If the original ball is found within the five-minute search time, the provisional ball is abandoned, and the player continues play with the original ball.
  • If the original ball is not found or is deemed out of bounds, the player must continue play with the provisional ball from where it came to rest.
  • If the provisional ball is played from the teeing area, it is considered as the second stroke.
  • The ball must be played as it lies, and no changing of balls is permitted while using a provisional ball.

By playing a Provisional Ball, players save time by eliminating the need to go back and replay the original shot. This helps to maintain a good pace of play for both the player and the group they are playing with.

The use of a Provisional Ball is most common in situations where the original ball is hit into areas that are difficult to search, such as thick rough, deep water hazards, dense woods, or areas marked as out of bounds. It is also used when the shot might be lost due to poor visibility or unfavorable weather conditions.

It is worth mentioning that a Provisional Ball cannot be played if there is certainty that the original shot is in a playable location. If a player plays a Provisional Ball unnecessarily and then discovers that the original ball is in play, they incur a penalty stroke and must abandon the Provisional Ball.

In conclusion, a Provisional Ball is a second ball played by golfers with the intention to save time in case the original ball is lost or out of bounds. It provides a practical solution to continue play without going back to replay the shot, as long as the original ball's outcome is uncertain. By understanding and correctly implementing the concept of a Provisional Ball, golfers can keep the pace of play smooth and efficient.