Three things worth remembering about Provisional Balls

  1. Teeing off from the 13th you hit your ball onto the mound. After walking forward and searching for your ball for 2 minutes, you leave your playing partners searching for the ball and go back to the tee to play a Provisional ball.
    Wrong! You play a Provisional ball to save time and you must play it before you leave the tee. (27-2a) When you go back to play the second ball from the tee, it becomes the ball in play even if you subsequently find your original ball.
    TIP: Always play the Provisional ball before you move forward to search.
  2. Playing your second shot on the 2nd you hit your ball into the water hazard. If it is “known or virtually” certain that the ball is in a water hazard you cannot elect to play a Provisional ball and you must proceed in accordance with Rule 26-1. If you hit another ball from the same place it becomes the ball in play, even if you then find the original ball in the hazard (ie on the island) and it is playable.
    TIP: When in a water hazard, walk forward and search first and you keep your options open.
  3. Teeing off from the 6th you hit your ball into the bushes on the left. You announce to your partners that you are playing a Provisional ball. Walking forward, you find your original ball in the middle of a large bush. It is not lost and therefore becomes the ball in play. It is unplayable. You cannot get relief within two club lengths of where it lies and must now either find a position well back down the course where you can keep the original position of the ball in line with the pin (not always possible) or walk back to the tee and play your 3rd

TIP: Think before you declare the ball a Provisional. Sometimes 3 off the tee is the best option.