In What Order do I Hit a Provisional Ball?

After hitting a tee shot left into a dense thicket, a player announces that he’ll hit a provisional ball. Is it still the player’s turn to play?

Later, another player hits one to the right into heavy brush from the fairway. Is it still that player’s turn to play?

Believe it or not, the answer is different depending on from where the provisional ball is played.

The third section of Rule 10 addresses the situation of when a player is to play a provisional ball from the teeing ground. From the teeing ground, the player must play the provisional ball after his opponent (match play) or fellow-competitor(s) (stroke play) has made their first stroke; not immediately after hitting it left into the dense thicket.

In match play, if a player were to play a provisional before the opponent has played from the teeing ground, the player would be playing out of turn and the opponent may immediately require the player to cancel the stroke and play a provisional ball in the correct order.

If more than one player is to play a provisional ball from the teeing ground, the original order of play is retained.

The order of playing a provisional ball changes once the players are off the tee. Other than from the teeing ground, a provisional ball must be played immediately after the player hits the poor shot (Decision 10/4).

In foursomes play (partners playing alternate shot), the player who would be the next to play for that side is required to play the provisional ball. In other words, for side A-B, if player A hits a tee shot into the trees and heavy brush, the player’s partner, player B, would hit the provisional ball.

If it occurs on the teeing ground, player B would need to wait until the other side had played their tee shot before hitting the provisional ball. If it took place other than on the teeing ground, player B would hit the provisional ball immediately.

Remember, use the 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.

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