Question: During our Member-Guest earlier this year. We were playing the gunch as a penalty area. The player hit his ball into the gunch or possibly OB, and proceeded to hit a provisional. While looking for his ball I asked why did he hit a provisional when we are playing this as a penalty area. He says “oh, yeah, I’ll just drop one,” I told him since he already hit a provisional he had to play that. He was not pleased. What’s the ruling?
Answer: If a ball may be possibly OB, the player may play a provisional, even if a penalty area is where the ball could be. This player had the right to play a provisional. However, once it is determined where the ball is or where it is lost, we must proceed with that Rule. So if it was determined the ball was OB, then the provisional becomes the ball in play. If it is determined the ball is in the penalty area, then the provisional must be abandoned, and then proceed under the penalty area rule. Those options are stroke and distance (and cannot use the provisional), back-on-the-line relief, or two club-lengths from where it entered the penalty area. If the player knew the ball was in the penalty area, then yes, you cannot play a provisional, it would become the ball in play.
Todd Stice is our in-house Rules of Golf Expert. You can learn more about Todd here.