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Rules explainer: Will there really be no more provisional balls in 2019?

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Have you ever played a provisional ball? Of course you have not. Your ball lands in the fairway each and every time… I’m kidding. In all seriousness, though, in 2019, there will no longer be any provisional balls. This point has not gotten so much attention, so let me clear it up for you.

In 2019, it will be possible for golf clubs to apply two new local rules, which in essence give you the option–instead of going all the way back to the tee (or instead of playing a provisional ball)–to drop a ball with a two-stroke penalty in the vicinity of where your ball is lost or where your ball crossed the out-of-bounds margin. These two options, though, are only available if you have not played a provisional ball. Let me come back to that in a moment.

First of all, be aware that this local rule is meant only for non-elite-players. Thus, it will not apply for professionals, and it is not intended for elite amateurs.

Secondly, it is important to understand the reason for these new options: The governing bodies want to increase pace of play.

This is the scenario with the rules as they stand today

  1. You play a ball, and it goes towards out of bounds or towards some rough.
  2. You decide to play a provisional ball, and maybe you don’t have it in your pocket, so you have to go to your bag and get it.
  3. You declare to your fellow player that you play a provisional ball.
  4. You play the provisional ball.
  5. You now have to search for two balls, both the first and the provisional–so you might have to search twice.
  6. By the way: If the provisional ball is also near out of bounds or e.g. rough, you should in fact play another provisional ball for the provisional ball.
  7. If you did not play a provisional ball, and did not find your first ball, you had to go all the way back to play a new ball.

All this takes way too long. That is the reason that they have introduced this new option. So, you might ask: “Well then how exactly do we then proceed under these new local rules?” My answer is that I had hoped you had not asked, because it is not easy to explain.

Let me try a shorter version and a longer version. Both versions are a about a situation where you have played your ball towards out of bounds or towards an area (not in a penalty area), where you might not find it.

Short versions

Ball hit out of bounds

  1. Estimate the crossing point to OOB (“A”).
  2. Find the nearest fairway edge, equidistant from the hole (“B”).
  3. Drop e.g. on the fairway within two club lengths of “Y”, not nearer the hole.

Lost ball

  1. Estimate the spot where the ball lies (“A”).
  2. Find the nearest fairway edge, equidistant from the hole (“B”).
  3. Drop e.g. on the fairway within two club lengths of this spot, not nearer the hole.

If you proceed under that short version, you will comply with the rules. But to understand your options fully, you need to read the long version.

Long versions

Although the short version is correct, it does not cover all your options. Below I have copied the text from the local rule, where it is explained in more detail.

For two penalty strokes, the player may take relief by dropping the original ball or a substituted ball in this relief area (see Rule 14.3): Two Estimated Reference Points: a. Ball Reference Point: The point where the original ball: • Is estimated to have come to rest on the course, or • Last crossed the edge of the course boundary to go out of bounds.

b. Fairway Reference Point: The point of fairway of the hole being played that is nearest to the ball reference point, but is not nearer the hole than the ball reference point. For purposes of this Local Rule, “fairway” means any area of grass in the general area that is cut to fairway height or less.

Size of Relief Area Based on Reference Points: Anywhere between

  • A line from the hole through the ball reference point (or within two club-lengths to the outside of that line), and
  • A line from the hole through the fairway reference point (or within two club-lengths to the outside of that line).

Not really easy to understand, eh?

But here’s the point, as also stated above: These options are only available, if you have NOT played a provisional ball! In other words: If you chose to play a provisional ball, you also chose not to apply these local rules! Therefore, you have to do the math below.

  1. If I play a provisional ball (and it becomes in play) then it will cost me one stroke and one penalty, in all two strokes.
  2. If instead I don’t play a provisional ball and rather invoke the new local rule, then it will likewise cost me two penalty strokes.
  3. The big question then is: Do I think, that by playing a provisional ball I can be in a better position, than if I dropped according to the local rule?
  4. This could lead to the conclusion that you would maybe play a provisional ball if your stroke was very bad (e.g. only 40 yards into some rough). You then would think that you could do much better with a provisional ball) and that you would NOT play a provisional ball if you made a very long stroke (e.g. 250 yards), since there would be a good chance that the provisional ball would end up much shorter than if your applied the local rule and dropped in accordance.

The hope from R&A and USGA is probably that people will stop playing provisional balls…simply because it takes too long. But the dream for R&A and USGA would probably be this scenario in 2019

  1. Your ball seems to go towards out of bounds or seems to go towards some rough (outside a penalty area) where you maybe cannot find it.
  2. You immediately walk to the place where you think it is (without playing a provisional).
  3. If you don’t find it within the three minutes search time, you apply the local rule and drop/play another ball in accordance with that.

This will increase pace of play significantly. But the question is: What will players do? What would you do? From a player’s point of view it might look a bit more different, as stated above.

Some players would maybe do the math above, and sometimes play a provisional and sometimes not. Other players would think that it is a wonderful new opportunity and use it all the time. Other players again will find it hard to understand exactly where to drop under the local rule and thus would either do it wrong or not apply the new local rule at all.

So what is the conclusion then?

Well, maybe there will not be any more provisional balls played in 2019. Or maybe there will be, and there won’t really be any notable difference from today.

But no matter what, please remember, that these are only local rules, so in 2019 you must find out whether or not your club has such a local rule. And when you have found out, you must decide what to do in a situation where you can play a provisional ball. My guess would be, that many would do as they do today: not play a provisional ball.

Feel free to reply below. Will you play a provisional ball in 2019? Do you think golf clubs should have these local rules?

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I am founder of "The Oswald Academy", which has only one purpose: To teach in the Rules of Golf. My hope is to make the Rules of Golf interesting and easy to understand. I am publishing Rules Books, conducting seminars, letterboxes, writing blogs, publishing "The Oswald Rules School" (videos) and much more. I live in New York, but I was born in Denmark. I am a former lawyer, and have two kids - and one wife.

77 Comments

77 Comments

  1. John Taylor

    Feb 15, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    Best option is to ignore this new (optional) local rule. The UK golf unions have made it clear that stroke play rounds, made when this optional local rule in place, will not be accepted for handicap purposes as “qualifying rounds”. Quite right – it is far too open to misinterpretation and abuse.

  2. JiminSC

    Oct 25, 2018 at 7:20 am

    On any tree lined dogleg holes, most out of bounds drives short of the dogleg, will play a provisional due to the definition of the “Relief Area”. Whenever you cannot see the “hole” the “Relief Area” is going to be a point of contention.

  3. Bob Slavonia

    Oct 19, 2018 at 8:52 am

    This rule solidifies the stupidity of the USGA. They were to simplify the rules!

  4. Gimmie Hendrix

    Oct 9, 2018 at 7:36 am

    Our current pace of play is just fine. If you make us feel hurried we never return to spend money at your spot again. Simple. We vote with our wallets, and you don’t get a second chance. So think twice about accelerating pace on people like us, you’ll end up with less business, not more.

  5. ChipNRun

    Oct 6, 2018 at 12:17 am

    Will some courses adopt it only on a “situational” basis?

    If the rough mowing tractor is broken, or half the greens crew quit, or rains have left the lwoer half of the course unmowable… then use the rule that week. If the rough wide of the first cut is all 8 inches deep or more, it’s only fair for lost ball.

  6. DaveJ

    Oct 3, 2018 at 10:20 am

    Simplify recreational golf (most of us do anyway). If you aren’t keeping a handicap (only like 2 million of the 28+ million US golfers keep a handicap) just play by agreed upon rules within your group that are fast. No one outside of your foursome should care how you play your recreational round so long as you aren’t slowing up the groups behind you. Play 1 stroke penalty drops from any hazard/OB and keep your distance. Play 3 putt max once you are on the green (miss your second putt, pick it up). It is just a silly game to get some exercise and fresh air with friends for 90+% of golfers.

    If you are keeping a handicap, you are hopefully a pretty decent golfer already and should be playing pretty fast to begin with. If you aren’t, shame on you. Stop wasting everyone’s time.

  7. Bogey

    Sep 22, 2018 at 12:29 am

    If you want to speed up the game, just forbid drivers for amateurs.

    • Host

      Sep 23, 2018 at 6:14 am

      Or maybe there should be a “driver-licence” – you only allowed to use your driver on the course if you can hit 7 out of 10 fairways with it ????????????

    • ken

      Sep 26, 2018 at 1:23 pm

      I hope you are being absurd in sarcasm

  8. Ganz

    Sep 19, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    FOR THE AMATEUR GOLFER: Make the entire golf course red staked. Simple, clean and still penal enough. No time wasted walking back to tees, hitting provisionals etc. 4-4.5 would be a treat to have on a regular basis and everyone’s playing by the same rules.

    FOR THE PRO: Play the rules as stated. You guys are amazing.

    • Dave

      Sep 28, 2018 at 1:00 pm

      I run a league of about 30 golfers. We play red stake everywhere. The only rule I have is if your group comes in past 4 hours 15 minutes – 1 stroke team penalty for every 5 minutes past 75 minutes.

      The practice swingers, cart sitters and the numbskulls who take forever on the green have actually improved.

  9. Doug

    Sep 19, 2018 at 9:17 am

    Drop it where it went out. Thats how I typically play a casual round with buddies on the weekend. If the round is more serious, we play provisional’s.

    That said, I do have a friend who has delusions of grandeur. When its his ball that went out, he takes the drop 290 yards from the tee. When its someone else’s, he pulls the cart about 20 yards short. Unfortunately, I foresee this rule bringing out the inner DB in a lot of people.

  10. Joe Perez

    Sep 18, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    This is the way most of the people I know and play with have been doing it for decades, except the drop is at “relief point A” where it was lost or went out of bounds, with only a one stroke penalty. This new rule goes a step further by creating a situation where you might lose a ball in a lateral hazard (one stroke), and then have no choice but to wedge it back in play (second penalty stroke). The new rule, in allowing you to avoid a Provisional, makes up for it with the “wedge back into play” aspect.

  11. David Floyd

    Sep 17, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    Myself and the fellas I play with have been doing this all along. If any of us do play a 2nd off the tee, its a “called” mulligan. We amateurs normally give ourselves one per nine. If we cant find the first ball in short order, we take a drop close to where it entered the bad stuff, tack on the appropriate penalties and keep it moving. If we play a tourney then we abide by their rules. Simple & fun. FYI, we don’t play those $50.00 a dozen balls and that helps.

  12. 4Par

    Sep 17, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    These new rules are going to segregate groups at clubs…. I’ll be playing with the guys that try to play by the rules as we learned them 30-40 years ago. I’m not going to play with guys that want to walk 50 yards to the fairway and take a drop, putt from 5’ with the flagstick in after fixing every green imperfection, and try to convince me that they’re playing golf!

    I’m glad those guys are here supporting the course and keeping our bills paid but I don’t want to play by these new rules….

    • Millennial Falcoln

      Sep 18, 2018 at 1:30 pm

      4Par – care to elaborate? There are a few moving pieces in your argument that are confusing.

    • ken

      Sep 26, 2018 at 1:42 pm

      Dude…the rules are the rules. If you don’t like them, YOU are not playing golf.
      I can see you have no interest in speeding up play. Have fun in your 5 hour rounds.

  13. Tee-Bone

    Sep 17, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    The USGA has become dysfunctional in 2018. The only golfers who will understand these new rules are the same ones who knew the rules before. These rules will do nothing for the 98% of golfers who have never made an effort to learn the rules from the book. The new relief for a lost ball rule is a joke. It is a “caving in” to pressure that we must “grow the game”, by relaxing rules, simply because young people don’t like rules.

    • ken

      Sep 26, 2018 at 1:47 pm

      You are missing the point of the two stoke penalty.
      Look, You hit one you believe to be OB….So under the present rule , you can A) hit a provisional. That ball if you declare “in play” your next stroke would be your FOURTH
      B) head down to have a look. Discover it OB and have to ride/walk back to the tee and hit THREE from there. Waste of time
      Or you can C) invoke the new rule. Figure out where you believe the ball crossed OB and drop one in the fairway and hit 4 from there.
      Either way, you are playing your FOURTH stroke from the fairway.

  14. Malcolm Lewis

    Sep 17, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Why is OB a penalty at all? It only makes sense if a golfer can gain an unfair advantage over the field by deliberately hitting OB. We’re already penalized by not being on the fairway when we hit OB accidentally.

    • ken

      Sep 26, 2018 at 1:49 pm

      If you miss the golf course, no penalty? How so>?

  15. Dave

    Sep 17, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    Leave the weekend golfer alone and concentrate on the professional game where the take upwards of 5 1/2 hours.
    Monkey see monkey do.

    • Buster C

      Sep 17, 2018 at 5:39 pm

      AMEN! The Pros are the ones that need to speed up pace of play! Its been talked about forever but nobody does anything. Are they afraid to upset these pampered millionaires?? Talking for 5 minutes with their caddies over each shot, marking and remarking their ball numerous times after they plumb bob and view the put from every angle possible, etc. It is excruciating to watch these guys. And if you watch Jr. Golf you see the same exact things being done by young golfers. Make some rules for speedier play and enforce them….and make the game better for everyone.

      • StillaYankee

        Sep 20, 2018 at 10:47 am

        Exactly—I stopped watching golf, for the most part, more than 10 years ago. I just couldn’t take it anymore, watching these guys take forever on every single shot & then hit it bad or to the wrong place anyway. Then they’re drawing & fading when a simple straight shot is all that’s necessary sometimes. My father was a pro other pros went to for help & he stopped watching back in the 90’s, just couldn’t take it anymore. The players are given time limits & go over those limits & only some will get punished for it & it’s usually not the ones who do it often & also very rarely the top golfers.
        As for the rules, many ‘weekend’ golfers don’t know them because they don’t understand them as they always seem to have been written by lawyers. I try to teach the rulebook to my team & the boys look at me like I have 2 heads. The new rules are supposed to be for ‘recreational play’ but the average ‘recreational’ golfer still won’t understand them as written & will still spend 10 minutes looking for that $2-$3 golf ballbefore they ‘just drop 1 somewhere & continue on with their double’.

    • Bill

      Sep 25, 2018 at 6:18 pm

      If your Sunday match had millions of dollars on the line you would play in that amount of time too

  16. John A

    Sep 17, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    This rule reminds me of the old adage that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. Wow, what a mess of a rule! As if this game wasn’t difficult enough. I’m going to avoid it by hitting all of my shots right up the middle!

  17. HDTVMAN

    Sep 17, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    ???HUH??? I prefer the mulligan, but if I’m out of them, I just drop a ball on the line where I think it was last seen (usually 100 yards further up towards the green), take a stroke, and move on. Or, according to my group’s rules, take a max 7 strokes on a par 4/5 and move on. Just like if I’m behind a tree, and no one is looking, I kick it out (Judge Smail’s rule).

  18. Philip Pyle

    Sep 17, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    This new rule is a joke. Way too complicated. Will have ZERO POSITIVE EFFECT on pace of play. Possible negative effect.

  19. Fang

    Sep 17, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    Find the nearest fairway edge, equidistant from the hole

    From the hole, and what? Equidistant implies three points.

    • David Fay

      Sep 18, 2018 at 12:11 pm

      Equidistant to the point it crossed the OB line or where you think your LB is. It’s not that hard.

  20. Toaster

    Sep 17, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Ok can see lots of “ discussions “ about where exactly a ball disappeared out of bounds, “ Ie creamed that one , must be at least x yards,” yet the player hadn’t hit one that far all round. Then who decides on the outcome, it’s a game of honesty but I can see disagreements coming if people have totally differing ideas on what happened and where it finished, therefor delays in play

  21. JC

    Sep 17, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    This weekend one of my approach shots flew the green, hit a cart path and bounded over a OB fence. The ball flew directly over the flag before it hit the path and went OB.

    Under the new rule, where can I take a drop?

    • Steve

      Sep 17, 2018 at 2:41 pm

      Did you read the article – 2 club lengths from the point it went OB

    • Steve S

      Sep 17, 2018 at 3:57 pm

      Good Question. The only place to drop under the rule “in the fairway” which to me means “not rough” is only nearer the hole.

  22. Dennis

    Sep 17, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    The more useful aspect of this comes when a player hits a ball off the fairway, seemingly in play, only to lose it. No need to return to the tee, the penalty is defined and you get to drop in the fairway. Most casual players would just drop (or place) a ball (but in the rough) and play on.If you don’t care about the rules, it doesn’t matter. If you do, then you have a time-saving way out.

  23. Fiorenzo

    Sep 17, 2018 at 11:59 am

    I agree with taking 2 shots penalty if a 250 yard drive goes out of bounds ; but if I skull a wedge from 50 yards and it goes out of bounds behind the green I will play a provisional hoping for a one putt.

    • Bobdobalino

      Sep 17, 2018 at 3:21 pm

      If the ball went put of bounds there is no point calling it provisional.

  24. Joe Perdue

    Sep 17, 2018 at 11:57 am

    What an awful rules change. Absolutely awful.

  25. Joe virdone

    Sep 17, 2018 at 11:50 am

    Ive been playing golf for 50+ years, most of the time as a mid-high single digit …always carry extra ball, and cannot ever remember the first scenario you built.. will always play the provisional…thanks…

  26. Randy Wall

    Sep 17, 2018 at 11:49 am

    I’m just wondering how widely the “local rule” will be adopted. For example, here in the Pac NW, in the winter, many courses adopt a winter rule of a free drop within 6″ or a club length, due to course conditions. But not all do. And sometimes it seems really dumb to play it as it lies, when the course is soggy, and we are outside the handicap score counting period.

    The same might be true with this rule. If a lot of places decide that this isn’t true to the spirit of the game, then it might rarely be adopted. Despite the fact that those of us who shoot in the 90’s or higher could really use this.

  27. Acemandrake

    Sep 16, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    What is “Y”?

    Estimate the crossing point to OOB (“A”).
    Find the nearest fairway edge, equidistant from the hole (“B”).
    Drop e.g. on the fairway within two club lengths of “Y”, not nearer the hole.

    • Steve

      Sep 17, 2018 at 2:50 pm

      I wondered exactly the same thing (“Y” doesn’t seem to be referenced anywhere). Also, if you leave the teeing area without playing a provisional – the option of going back to the tee should be lost (I don’t think that is the case – or is it ?)

      • Jonathan Ho

        Oct 27, 2018 at 7:17 am

        Under the new rules, you are allowed to go back and play a provisional even after leaving the area of your last shot.

  28. Tiger Noods

    Sep 14, 2018 at 3:08 am

    My dream scenario is different. I was a proponent of all laterals, but someone astutely pointed out that sometimes, there needs to be a super-severe penalty.

    OK, I agree. Lateral for most things, but if you have housing/buildings you’re protecting, it’s simple. OB = pick-up triple bogey. (Or your pickup score.) No finishing a hole you lose your ball on out of bounds.

    Imagine the weekend hacks that step up to a par 4, and banana ball it. Write 7 and move on. That’ll actually speed up play.

    • Steve

      Sep 17, 2018 at 2:45 pm

      That’s going to make it worse for the housing you are trying to protect. I’m hacking my way up the rough – about to take my 6th shot from the rough ….. aaahhh lets send it into the housing estate and settle for a 7. Think again !!!!

  29. Andy

    Sep 14, 2018 at 1:39 am

    Bonkers. Taking skill out of the game. Good luck with all the arguments determining ‘the vicinity’ of where the wall was lost / OB…

    • talljohn

      Sep 17, 2018 at 12:22 pm

      You have to do that now for a Lateral Hazard. No difference.

  30. Larrybud

    Sep 13, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    Not going to affect pace of play one minute. Few players play stoke and distance, and those who do aren’t hitting many provisional or balls ob.

    Usga should have made guidelines for the tee time intervals and course setup, which has much more influence on pace than the occasional provisional

  31. AJ

    Sep 13, 2018 at 10:28 pm

    Get rid of OB and just have hazards with 1 option for drops, 2 club lenths. Done. Simplified!

    • AC1

      Sep 15, 2018 at 3:47 pm

      I absolutely agree! Perfect solution

    • Steve

      Sep 17, 2018 at 11:38 am

      Players would favor the OB side if you had a hazard on opposite side and this would create a problem for OB neighbors. Other than that great idea

      • Boyo

        Sep 17, 2018 at 11:43 am

        Don’t buy a house on a golf course. OB rule sucks.

      • JB

        Sep 17, 2018 at 12:04 pm

        Why favor OB vs a Hazard? The penalty for the hazard is 1 less stroke vs. the OB.

  32. DJ

    Sep 13, 2018 at 10:24 pm

    stoke and distance. drop 2 club lengths (estimate this) from where the ball crossed OB or the hazard. Example – i hit the ball OB left. I go to where I think it crossed and within about two club lengths, I drop my ball and play my next shot. Invoke 18.1 if you know your ball was taken. A lot of hackers like to take $4 Pro V1’s
    18-1. By Outside Agency – If a ball at rest is moved by an outside agency, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced.
    Note: It is a question of fact whether a ball has been moved by an outside agency. In order to apply this Rule, it must be known or virtually certain that an outside agency has moved the ball.

  33. Begemot

    Sep 13, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    just take a mulligan and be done with it

  34. sprcoop

    Sep 13, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    I’m thinking this is going to drop handicaps, and save time. Anyone hitting a bad tee shot that is potentially lost or OB has the same chance of doing it again with a provisional. Don’t ask me how I know that. Being able to walk that 2nd ball out to the fairway is a guaranteed fairway hit and going to save strokes.

  35. Scott C

    Sep 13, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    I don’t understand why they don’t just make everything a lateral hazard and have one stroke penalty. Honestly, why does it matter if stakes are red or white? I know why under current rules, but new rules could be all red stakes.

    • Mark Harr

      Sep 13, 2018 at 4:53 pm

      >>”I don’t understand why they don’t just make everything a lateral hazard …”

      What if out of bound is not lateral? What if the out of bounds is behind the green? Then lateral does not work too well, does it?

      Also, this same rule works for lost ball, not just out of bounds ball.

      And remember to take proper 2 stroke penalty for lost or out of bounds ball.

  36. 2putttom

    Sep 13, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    I am amazed at the plethora of golfers that do not hit a provisional.

  37. mike

    Sep 13, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    heres my question, say i hit the ball potentially OB, can i play a provisional, then if i dont find my original ball in play, can i choose from the fairway if i would rather play from where my provisional is, IE if i hit a great provisional in a better position from where my drop would be, or because I have hit a provisional am i forced to play from where it ended up, IE also hit the provisional it OB, or a bunker, or just shorter. basically does playing a provisional mean you cannot take the 2 strokes and drop or could you choose after you have looked for your ball. if you can choose it would be in your best interest to always hit a provisional as there would be no downside, only upside of being in a better position then the drop would allow.

    • John

      Sep 17, 2018 at 11:32 am

      No. As soon as you hit the provisional you’re committing to playing it if you don’t find your first ball. It would make play even slower if you hit a provisional then checked the lie then decided to take a drop from the fairway instead. The rule on lost balls was fine as it was. The powers that be are dumbing down the game.

    • Kg

      Sep 17, 2018 at 11:38 am

      No Mike. Once you hit a provisional you no longer have the new ‘Drop’ option. This is what the USGA needs to make everyone understand because most (if not all) clubs WILL adopt this local rule. When people don’t understand that it will make things even slower due to big long drawn out discussions/arguments on what the rule is.
      I hit a lot of provisionals now even if i’m 90% sure my 1st ball is in-bounds and i’ll probably find it. It’s like a free mid-round practice ball. But it wastes time and is taking advantage of the rules. That comes to an end January 1st.

      • Andy

        Apr 8, 2019 at 7:21 am

        This not actually totally true. The USGA states in the rule that:

        “If a provisional ball is played and neither the original ball nor the provisional ball can be found, then the Local Rule may be applied for the provisional ball that cannot be found.”

        So, even if you play a provisional ball and you lose both the first and the provisional you still have the option available. However, it is a 6th shot from there.

  38. Dave

    Sep 13, 2018 at 11:01 am

    i have 2 leagues where they already adopted their own rule of drop where it was lost and 1 stroke penalty to keep things moving. it actually allows high cap players to stay in the hole in match play. it will be interesting if leagues change to the new rules which is an extra stroke penalty as it should be….

  39. MakesSense

    Sep 13, 2018 at 10:40 am

    This seems to make a lot of sense from a practical standpoint. If I hit a ball OB left, re-tee “dropping 2, hitting 3”, my ball is likely to end up about the same distance from the hole as it would if I walked up to where the ball went OB, dropped a ball and took 2 strokes. Either way, I’m hitting 4 for my approach, and not messing with a second ball is less time-consuming.

    • Rod c

      Sep 29, 2018 at 8:23 pm

      That is ONLY if your 3rd shot is good. As we know we can have that 3rd shot either same way on on Rough.

      That is what confuses me on this new rule. Why get your ball dropped on fairway? And not near th area where it went OB or lost?

      Like when you go to hazards, is only one shot penalty and drop the ball near that place.

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News

Why players are living so far under par

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The PGA Tour’s tagline is “Live Under Par,” and every week we see the best players in the world take on courses set up to challenge them as much as possible. Even on these difficult courses, with pin positions tucked around greens and rough grown out beyond what many regular golfers might ever experience, we still see the pros who are playing their best get way under par and often break scoring records.

But how and why does this happen week after week? Are these courses just not challenging enough? Are players really that good? (“These Guys are Good” was the tour’s previous motto, after all)

Let’s break down a few factors that relate to scoring on the PGA Tour and why we keep seeing low scores on an almost weekly basis.

First off, we have the length. It’s not a guarantee that more length equals higher scores. Pebble Beach under U.S. Open conditions is a great example of that, but if we are to use a recent example, at Hamilton Golf & CC (host course to the RBC Canadian Open), we saw Brandt Snedeker shoot 60 during his Friday morning round, and multiple rounds in the low 60s. Hamilton is not a long course by modern PGA Tour standards, but on a day with some benign pins, little wind, and slower, softer greens (thanks to a wet week leading up), it’s a perfect scenario for someone to make a score. On top of that, to finish off the tournament we saw Rory McIlroy get on a total heater Sunday afternoon to shot 61 – with a bogey at the last, and win by 7 – yes 7!

Rough. As we saw at the PGA Championship this year at Bethpage Black, length plus rough means that you are going to eliminate more than half the field before the tournament even starts. It’s the exact reason we saw the bomber-filled leaderboard that we did.

On the opposite end of the spectrum a dry Open Championship often proves that tightly mown areas actually pose a greater risk to players than rough, since once a ball starts rolling, there is no telling where and when it’s going to stop – although a hazard is usually the answer. Average length rough around the greens makes chipping and pitching difficult, and when you add in the fact that as the week goes on the pins get closer to slopes and edges, it’s a recipe for those having the best week with their irons having the best chance to take home the trophy.

Player skill. This is the X-Factor. No matter what you do to the course fans need to realize that week to week, you have the world’s best players taking their games to every tournament. It all comes down to a numbers game. Half aren’t going to make the cut, 35 percent are going to play well but miss some putts, and the final 15 percent are going to have their games peaking and be inside the top ten.

Within that 15 percent, one or two of those players are going to be firing on all cylinders, and if you are a casual observer, that’s all you really get to see on TV, the guys on fire like Rory this past Sunday at the Canadian Open.

 

 

 

 

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5 things we learned on Friday at the U.S. Open

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If the weather forecast is to be believed, the next 48 hours of Pebble Beach weather will be a blend of cloudy, partly cloudy, and mostly cloudy skies. Rain will never have less than a 10 percent chance of falling, but never more than 20 percent. Winds will peak at 11 mph, dropping to three mph, blowing from west to east, at a variety of angles. What that consistent weather forecast means, is that golf will not be consistent.

The USGA should not need to water the greens, which means that they will slowly firm up, forcing golfers to be even more precise in the changing landing spots they select. It means that anyone who shoots the score of 65 (that was low each of the first two days), will find himself in the thick of the chase. For now, let’s take a brief look back at five things that we learned on Friday at the U.S. Open.

5. The numbers

79 golfers made the cut at 2 over, 11 shots behind the leader. Eight golfers missed the cut by one stroke, while 24 others made the cut on the number. Of the 79, four are amateurs, at 2 over, E, E and 2 under, respectively. That foursome will do battle for its own tournament medal, although none is expected to challenge for the overall championship trophy. Rhys Enoch had an 11-stroke turnaround, from 77 to 66, to make the cut on the number.

Rickie Fowler went 12 strokes the other way, from 66 to 78, to move from squarely in title contention, to 10 shots off the lead. Pebble Beach showed no favoritism to either wave, morning or afternoon. Low and high scores came during each. What Pebble Beach did do, was fray the nerves and distract the attention of the competition. The first act is now complete.

4. Brooks Koepka looks like…Brooks Koepka

True to his word, Koepka doesn’t change much. No soaring highs, no crashing lows…yet. The U.S. Open Champion of 2017 and 18, who is also the PGA Champion of 2018 and 19, stands at 4 under par, tied with four others in sixth place,  five shots behind the leader. Of the nine golfers between him and the top, three have won major titles, none since 2014. Only one of them, Rory McIlroy, has won the U.S. Open, and his win came on a rain-softened Congressional course in 2011.

Besides McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson at 1 under, and Tiger Woods at even par, no other golfer in the field has more than one major championship to his credit. It’s a wide-open weekend, so why shouldn’t Koepka have as much say as anyone in the outcome? The defending champion had half as many birdies (six to three) on Friday, but one-third as many bogies (three to one). It’s that second number that will weigh heavily on his result. The fewer the mistakes, the more likely the victory.

3. A Rose by any other name … needs another major title

In 2016, Justin Rose won the Olympic gold medal, a unique achievement in his generation. Problem is, no one knows where it ranks in terms of tournament victories. In 2017, Rose went into a playoff at Augusta National with Sergio Garcia, but came out a runner-up. The Englishman has won 24 times around the globe but lists just the 2013 U.S. Open in his major victories column.

In terms of a place in history, he needs more than one. Rose sits tied with Dustin Johnson, Jerry Pate, Henry Picard and a hundredfold of other champions of a solitary grand slam event. Trouble is, Rose’s long game is not at its best. His putting is sublime, but his driver is wayward, and his iron game, misguided. Do Aaron Wise, Chez Reavie and Chesson Hadley pose a threat to the man currently in 2nd place? Probably not. It’s the Oosthuizens, the McIlroys and, of course, the Koepkas that demand that Rose preserve his pristine putting stroke, while getting his long game in order. This is the elite of the elite, after all. No excuses, no margin for error.

2. Will the U.S. Open see another, first-time major champion?

Five of the last seven U.S. Open champions had not previously won a major title. Two of the last three Open champions at Pebble Beach (Graeme McDowell in 2010 and Tom Kite in 1992) made the Open their first major victory. For those reasons alone, names like Wise, Hadley, Reavie, Kuchar, and Wallace should not be eliminated from consideration this weekend.

True, the U.S. Open environment is a cauldron of pressure, increasing in constriction as each nine holes passes. At the same time, Koepka, Johnson, Kaymer, Rose and Simpson each had to find something yet unknown, to push aside the detractors and gain admission to the exclusive club of Open champions. Pebble Beach is a known commodity to PGA Tour regulars, so the putting might not be the greatest concern of the final 36 holes.

What will come into play, are the playing corridors. Fairways essentially cut in half, pushed left and right toward hazards and other dangers, a fraction of the width normally seen in February. The sure thing is that there is no certainty. The holder of the champion’s silver come Sunday might as soon be a first-timer as a repeat winner. Time will tell. After all, things like this could happen to anyone.

1. Gary Woodland is in uncharted territory

On the bright side, Gary Woodland played around Pebble Beach in 65 strokes on Friday. Six birdies against zero bogeys added up to the low round of the day and a two-shot advantage over Justin Rose. Also on the bright side, Woodland has hit 22 of 28 fairways, and 26 of 36 greens in regulation over the first two days. The leader has three PGA Tour titles to his credit, including Phoenix in 2018.

On paper, Woodland looks like a good bet to hoist the trophy on Sunday. That’s where the confidence begins to wane. Woodland’s track record in major events is improving, with consecutive top-10 finishes in the 2018 and 2019 PGA Championships. His best U.S. Open finish, though, was eight years ago, his only top-30 finish in the event. Woodland tees it up on Saturday in the final pairing, with the 2013 U.S. Open champion. No time like the present to find out if a step to the next level is in the offing.

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Morning 9: Record Rose | Tiger’s iron game betrays | Plenty more from Pebble

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

June 14, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1 Rose starts with 65
AP’s Doug Ferguson on the synergy…”Justin Rose played alongside Tiger Woods, and then joined him in the U.S. Open record book at Pebble Beach.”
  • “In a gentle start to the toughest test in golf, Rose birdied his last three holes Thursday for a 6-under 65, giving him a one-shot lead on a day so accommodating that more than three dozen players broke par.”
  • “It was an ideal start for Rose and for the USGA, which wants a smooth ride after four years of various mishaps in the U.S. Open. The idea was to start safe and make the course progressively more difficult, and a forecast of dry weather for the week should make that easier to control.”
  • “Rose knew what was at stake when he blasted out of a bunker short of the par-5 18th to about 12 feet. He was watching the telecast earlier when Rickie Fowler had a birdie putt for a 65 to tie the lowest U.S. Open round at Pebble Beach, set by Woods in the first round of his record-setting victory in 2000.”
2. “One of his better rounds”
Ryan Lavner at Golf Channel on Rickie’s start…
  • “With little wind and receptive greens, Fowler missed only one fairway and just three greens on his way to a 5-under 66 that shared the early lead at Pebble Beach.”
  • “It’s probably one of my better rounds I’ve played in a major,” he said Thursday.
  • …”It’s been a long road to get to the point where majors felt like another week, because they are bigger. They’re majors,” Fowler said. “But it’s time to soak it all up and have some fun.”
3. O’Connell recovering
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge on Kevin O’Connell’s wild week at Pebble…
  • “It was a little bit of a blur, because literally 10 minutes later I was throwing up in the fairway on eight,” O’Connell said Thursday.
  • …O’Connell said he wasn’t feeling great when he started his practice round Tuesday, but he didn’t think much more of it. By the time he got to No. 7 he was in trouble, so much so that he couldn’t even enjoy the ace.
  • …A nasty case of food poisoning had already started to take hold.
  • “I had a stomach ache, but I didn’t know it was full-on food poisoning like I was gonna be vomiting,” O’Connell said. “I could kind of tell when I walked up the hill on eight and started sweating a lot, I kind of had that feeling. … Honestly when I hit it in the hole on seven, I don’t want to say I didn’t care, but I was feeling pretty bad. I was ready to get out of there.”

Full piece.

4. Not so much for Phil
  • Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Mickelson remains in pursuit of the final leg of the career Grand Slam, and this week that quest brings him back to a familiar venue in Pebble Beach. But the conditions he encountered Thursday morning weren’t a far cry from those he saw in February en route to a win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, as many big names in the field feasted on a soft layout that will undoubtedly become more difficult as the week progresses.”
  • “But Mickelson was stuck in neutral, making just two birdies against three bogeys en route to a 1-over 72 that left him six shots off the early lead. He made just one putt outside of 10 feet all day, that coming on the difficult 10th where he salvaged par, and he missed a 22-inch putt on No. 3 that led to a bogey.”
  • “There was a good opportunity to score, and I played better than I shot,” Mickelson said. “I thought it was a great opportunity to get a few shots, and I just didn’t do it.”
5. Tiger struggles with irons
George Willis at the NY Post on Woods 1-under opening effort…
  • “After playing the front nine in 1-under, including a double-bogey on the par-3 fifth, Woods played the back nine in even-par, draining putts from as far as 30 feet to keep his scorecard in red numbers. He’ll start the second round five shots behind Justin Rose, who fired a 6-under 65 on Thursday.”
  • “It was typical Pebble Beach where the first seven holes you can get it going and then after that you’re kind of fighting and kind of hanging on,” Woods said. “I proved that today. I had it going early and had to fight off through the middle part of the round and hung in there with pars. I’m very pleased to shoot under par today.”
  • “He made a 30-footer to save par at the par-5 14th, and scrambled out of the bunker to make a 7-footer for par at the 17th. He closed with his 10th straight par at the 18th after his second shot landed in the bunker left of the green.”
6. Who is Sepp Straka?
Scanning the U.S. Open leaderboard, it’s a question plenty are asking. Thanks to Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols for putting a prime together.
  • “…The Straka brothers played college golf together at Georgia, with Sepp staying on for a fifth season. Sam, who was born two minutes before Sepp, went into commercial real estate for three years after graduation but recently decided to give golf another go. He’s currently playing on mini tours in the southeast and plans to try for Web.com Q-School later this year.”
  • “They’ve spent their entire lives pushing one another. Both share a career-low round of 62.”
  • “When we were growing up, any time I played golf, good or bad, I always asked what Sam shot,” said Sepp. “That’s the one guy you want to beat in the field.”
 
7. Good start for Rory
EuropeanTour.com report on Rory’s opening round…
  • “All four of McIlroy’s previous Major Championship wins came after a first round in the 60s and the 30-year-old will hope that sequence continues in California after an opening 68 which left him three under and continued his recent fine form.”
  • “The former World Number One has moved up to third in the Official World Golf Ranking after a win last week on the US PGA Tour, his second of the season to go with top tens at the WGC-Mexico Championship, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and US PGA Championship.”
  • “The Northern Irishman started on the back nine and made a bogey on the tenth after pulling his approach into a bunker but birdied the 13th and then hit a superb tee shot on the par three 17th to set up another.”
  • “After scrambling for a par on the 18th, McIlroy picked up further shots on the second and third and also rattled the pin from 15 feet for par on the fifth after duffing his chip from heavy rough.”
8. BK
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard on Koepka’s opening 69…
  • “…Maybe this is the ultimate chip for a player who relishes the role of being the overlooked superstar. Although he’d mentioned a promotional spot for this week’s championship that didn’t include him as a perceived slight, perhaps the real fuel comes from the idea that this wasn’t supposed to be his kind of course.”
  • “It certainly didn’t look that way early in his round when the two-time defending champion birdied four of his first six holes to move to within a stroke of the early lead.
  • “There were hiccups coming in – a missed green at No. 8 that bounced hard and into the hay, a wayward drive at No. 13 and a tee shot at the iconic 17th hole that airmailed the green. They all led to bogeys and added up to a 2-under 69 that was four shots off the pace set by Justin Rose.”
9. So your dad wants to play golf?
Andrew Tursky talked to PGA Pro Anne Cain about the particulars of getting your holdout father started playing golf ahead of Father’s Day.

“…To help us sift through the clutter, and get dad started the right way, PGATOUR.COM recently spoke with Anne Cain, a Top-100 ranked instructor from the PGA TOUR Academy at World Golf Village. Cain was an All-American at the University of Georgia, played golf professionally, and then went on to coach dozens of TOUR players and collegiate competitors”

PGATOUR.COM: What are the essential purchases that need to be made to start playing golf?

ANNE CAIN: “I think a good starting set is a putter, wedge, 7-iron and driver.”

PGATOUR.COM: Should you spend more money on lessons or a club fitting/new equipment?

ANNE CAIN: “I would recommend spending more time on lessons initially. A good instructor should be able to guide you on future club purchases, as well.”

PGATOUR.COM: Do you recommend group lessons, or one-on-one lessons?

ANNE CAIN: “I recommend private lessons if your budget allows for it. Imagine taking piano lessons in a group – you are not going to get the same individual attention as you will in private instruction. Group lessons are better for socializing or getting info on a particular shot within the game.”

Full piece. 

 

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