Rules Corner #5

Last time, we looked at hazards and preferred lies. Here we will look at the problem of a “lost ball”, as well as our “bare patches”.

Scenario 9. Libby and Claire are playing the 8th, in a closely contested match. Libby pulls her tee shot deep into the trees. Advantage Claire. Libby wisely hits a provisional ball, knowing that her first was not in a good place, and aware that having to return to the tee would slow down play. Her provisional finishes next to the pin! Advantage Libby. She has a look in the trees for her first ball, doesn’t find it and heads to the green. Claire keeps looking and finds Libby’s ball. Libby says that she had declared it lost and wants to tap in for a four. Claire wants her to play her first ball, from an ugly lie. Stalemate! How to proceed?

Well, it’s a bit tricky. Firstly, you can’t declare your ball ‘lost’. The rules tell us (see page 38) that your ball is lost when you have searched unsuccessfully for 5 minutes (or hurried ahead and played your provisional before anyone finds your errant one). So, the question is: for how long did Libby search? If it was 5 minutes, then the ball is lost and she must play her provisional, even if Claire subsequently finds the first one. If it was less than 5 minutes, then she must play the first and abandon the provisional.

So, if you think your ball may be lost, it’s a good idea to hit a provisional. If you choose to look for your first, note the time that you start looking. After 5 minutes (3 minutes in 2019!), the ball is lost! Move on!

Scenario 10. There has been some confusion about our local rule which offers relief from bare patches and our rule about preferred lies.

These rules tell us that bare patches on fairways may be treated as GUR. Also, they tell us that (most of the time) preferred lies are available on fairways. So, if you’re on a fairway and on a bare patch, you may (if you’re a wimp) drop off the bare patch and then prefer your lie. Sometimes we have preferred lies through the green, but this does not impact on the bare patches rule. If you find your ball on a bare patch in the rough, you are not entitled to a free drop, even though you may (if you’re a wimp) prefer your lie.

If you have a scenario to share, please let us know and we will discuss it in a future RULES CORNER.

Richard Best      mobile: 0403 285 403    email:

Mark Smith       mobile: 0408 461 807    email:

Claire MurrayComment