Let me continue to try to explain the logic from last time with the Water Hazard Rule 26. Often I am asked, “If I can hit a provisional ball for a lost ball or ball out of bounds why not for the Water Hazards rule?”
With a ball OB or lost you only have ONE OPTION, hit from where you were before, under “stroke and distance” one stroke penalty. To hit from where you were before is your ONLY choice and because of this it is designed to speed up play as, if you find your ball you can pick up your provisional ball, no penalty.
Under Rule 26, Water Hazards you have 3 or 5 options. When any Rule in golf has more than one option ONCE YOU HAVE CHOSEN TO DROP A BALL UNDER THE ONE OF THE OPTIONS, YOU CANNOT then pick it up and choose a different option. The ball is IN PLAY under that option.
So……………YOU DROP AND HIT A SECOND BALL because you think your ball went into the water hazard….
1. You go ahead and find your ball BUT as you already dropped one, it is taken as fact that you chose the “stroke and distance option” 26-1a, and your ball is in play, too late! You are laying 3.
2. You go ahead and when you get there it was seen to go in the water by someone but you are still lying 3, whereas you could have dropped a ballJUST TWO CLUB LENGTHS AWAY from where it went in, for the same one stroke cost, and you’d be closer to the hole, too late!
The way this Rule 26 works is that by having you go and see if your ball went in the water, as you are not “virtually certain”, it protects the players by allowing ALL their options to be open.
Also if you allowed people to assume their ball went into a hazard they could often get an unfair advantage in distance for that hole. Let me explain.
If just because they didn’t SEE their ball go in, and they were allowed to drop a ball nearer the hole where they “thought” it went in, they would be getting an unfair advantage because in reality their ball might be laying further back from the hole, or had even bounced out of bounds, and they just didn’t bother to look for it. If they were allowed to do this they would be getting a great distance advantage over the field of players, aka cheating!
If you don’t SEE it, or FIND it, or are VIRTUALLY CERTAIN, it’s back to where you were before and take a one stroke penalty.
Golf is a game of integrity and all players have to be protected from folks “bending” the rules and assuming what happened.
I hope this last explanation helps you.
Next time it’s all about local rules and when can we use them and why don’t WE have some of them on our course?