There were several comments regarding a provisional ball or lost ball that were forwarded to me last week that I wanted to address for the membership. I got to be rather longwinded, but I wanted to clarify the situations as much as possible as there are obviously women out on the course that are unsure of what action to take and who want to proceed properly.
Again, let me start by saying
When the player has not played a provisional ball and has to return either to the teeing ground or to the spot nearest to where the original ball lay to re-hit because she assumes her ball is lost… here are 2 scenarios:
(D 27-1/1): The player has teed ball and within the 5 minute search period, the original ball is found. May the player abandon the teed ball and play the original ball? Yes, the teed ball was not in play since the player had not yet made a stroke at it (see definition of Ball in Play) and the original ball was not lost (see definition of Lost ball).
(D 27-1/2) A player plays a second shot, searches briefly and then goes back and drops a ball under Rule 27-1. Before she plays the dropped ball and within the 5 minute period, the original ball is found. Is the player required to continue with the dropped ball? Yes. When the player put the substituted ball into play at the spot of the previous stroke with the intent to play the ball under penalty of stroke and distance, the original ball was lost. Therefore, Rule 20-6 does not apply, and she must continue with the substituted ball. If she had not yet dropped the ball, and the original ball had been found within 5 minutes, she could continue to play with the original ball.
(D 27-1/2.3) What if the player continues to play with the original ball instead of the ball that had been dropped? As the original ball is no longer the player’s ball in play, it is a wrong ball and the provisions of Rule 15-3 apply (loss of hole in stroke play; 2 stoke penalty in stroke play).