It's in the Hole
At a recent U.S. Women’s Open qualifying event, I started my watch as I joined in a search for a ball left of the 12th hole of the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club in Bradenton.
Both the player and the caddie said the ball had gone into some bushes on the fly from the teeing ground. The other two players and their caddies also joined the search.
About two minutes into the search, the player noticed a hole made by a burrowing animal of some sort and summoned me over.
“It may have gone in there” she said as she pointed to the hole.
“It may have” I said, “but it needs to be known or virtually certain before we can go down that road.”
She responded with “but we’ve looked everywhere else.”
“No” I replied, “It could be anywhere in these bushes. Let’s keep looking.”
Just because you think your ball may be somewhere involving a Rule, doesn’t mean you can go ahead with that Rule. There must be knowledge or virtually certainty that the ball is in the condition to operate under Rule 25-1c; Ball in Abnormal Ground Condition Not Found.
Knowledge of the whereabouts may be gained by observation of the players, caddies, referees or even spectators. Virtual certainty implies some small degree of doubt. However, the conclusion must be drawn that there is nowhere else the ball could be but in the hole. On a scale of one to one-hundred, knowledge or virtually certainty, you should be about ninety-nine percent sure.
Just as my watch hit the four and a half minute mark her caddie announced “I’ve got it!”
The ball was found some ten to fifteen yards beyond the burrowing animal hole. Regrettably, it was in an unplayable position. I helped her with her options under the Unplayable ball Rule (Rule 28) before she settled on the last option of dropping a ball within two club-lengths of where the ball lie; no nearer the hole.
Remember, use the definitions, index or the table of contents to find the correct Rule that applies to the situation and follow the Rules of Golf to help yourself to enjoy the game of golf.