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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

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan stresses that the Tour won’t be “overly reactionary” in attempts to solve slow play issue

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Days after the European Tour announced their 4-point plan to tackle slow play in the game, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has stated that the Tour will not be reactionary to their counterparts across the Atlantic Ocean.

According to USA Today, Monahan spoke to media at East Lake Golf Club on Tuesday and acknowledged the ire of golf fans around the world. But the commissioner stressed that while the Tour is currently in the process of combating the issue—there is no quick fix.

“We’ve been working on this, and we can be criticized for taking too long. But there’s been more than 1.2 million shots hit this year, and we’re talking about a few instances – and granted, they’re instances that are extreme – and we’re going to go down a path and we’re going to address that.

And I feel really good about where we’re going to get to, but it takes longer than you want, and you can’t be overly reactionary. I tend to have a fair amount of urgency around everything I do, and sometimes you can’t execute the urgency you want. You have to stay on the path you’re on.”

Per the report, PGA Tour officials have held numerous meetings with the Player Advisory Council and the Policy Board and one rule change which we know will be coming into effect for the 2020 season is that only the top-65 and ties instead of the top-70 and ties will play the weekend next season. While teams in Florida have also reportedly been analyzing ShotLink data going back to 2003 to identify trends and solutions to solve the issue plaguing the sport.

But while the European Tour have gone about things their own way, Monahan says that their new ideas will not influence the PGA Tour’s future decision making on the situation in any way.

“I wouldn’t say we’re going to be influenced in any way. I think everybody looking at this, talking about it is a good thing, and they’ve obviously decided that that’s the right thing for the European Tour. And when we’re ready to talk about what we’re going to do, I’ll be excited to talk to all of you about it.”

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Morning 9: PGA Tour commish wants to slow down slow play discussion | Greg Norman: Roll back the ball | Langston

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

August 21, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Let’s slow down the slow play discussion
Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio…”Monahan, in a gathering with members of the media Tuesday morning at East Lake Golf Club, said the Tour is on the right path toward resolving any issues regarding pace of play.”
  • “He feels everyone’s pain, he has seen the ire on social media and heard from the mouths of top players after recent episodes of excruciatingly dawdling play. He’s just not going to lead a sprint to any resolutions.”
  • “We’ve been working on this, and we can be criticized for taking too long,” Monahan said to a few chuckles from the listeners.
  • “But there’s been more than 1.2 million shots hit this year, and we’re talking about a few instances – and granted, they’re instances that are extreme – and we’re going to go down a path and we’re going to address that,” he added. “And I feel really good about where we’re going to get to, but it takes longer than you want, and you can’t be overly reactionary.”
  • “I tend to have a fair amount of urgency around everything I do, and sometimes you can’t execute the urgency you want. You have to stay on the path you’re on.”

Full piece.

2. Greg Norman: roll it back to pre 96!

 

(h/t to Geoff Shackelford for the spot & Golf.com)
3. No risk, plenty of reward
Will players going to approach East Lake differently owing to the staggered scoring?
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin…”There’s nothing to lose, and everything to gain. The only question is how to make up those strokes.”
  • “Don’t expect drastically different gameplans, especially in the early rounds, though. East Lake isn’t a course that offers a lot of risk-reward opportunities. Instead, it’s a straightforward layout that rewards repetitive execution.  Plodding along with pars and taking advantage of the occasional birdie opportunity is the best way to succeed here. Professional golfers are a conservative bunch by nature, and they aren’t convinced that slamming on the gas pedal for 72 holes is the best strategy at the season finale.”
  • “I don’t think I’m really going to change my game plan too much,” Conners said. “I’m going to try to make a lot of birdies. Starting in this position, there’s really nothing to lose. You can’t be silly, but if I can put four really good rounds of golf together, I have a chance. I think everyone feels like they have a chance.”
  • “Since 1983, there have been 19 victories by players who trailed by 10 or more strokes after any round. Nine players won when trailing by 10 or more strokes with 54 holes remaining, while seven players did so with two rounds left to play.”

Full piece.

4. Inkster losing sleep
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Juli Inkster joked that making her two U.S. Solheim Cup captain’s picks are so difficult this year, she wished she didn’t have any picks at all, but the truth is that she would like more.”
  • “Inkster said Tuesday at the CP Women’s Open that she wished she had three picks.”
  • “Two picks don’t really do much for me,” Inkster said. “If I had four picks, it would be great, but I do think we need one more pick in there.”
  • “Inkster’s automatic qualifiers will be determined with Sunday’s finish to the CP Women’s Open. She’ll announce her two captain’s picks on Monday. European captain Catriona Matthew made her four captain’s picks last week. Inkster said another pick would help her with pairings.”

 

5. Well done, Lucas!
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard on Lucas Glover’s return to the Tour Championship
  • “For the three-time Tour winner, rock bottom came in 2015 when he was forced to play the Korn Ferry Tour’s finals events to regain his status.”
  • “That was a pretty bad year,” Glover said on Tuesday at East Lake. “I didn’t do anything very well. That was about as low as it got, that first journey back to the Korn Ferry finals.”
  • “By comparison this season has been an unqualified success. He’s made 20 of 25 cuts, posted seven top-10 finishes and heated up at the perfect moment with a tie for seventh last week at the BMW Championship to qualify for East Lake for the first time since 2009.”

Full piece.

6. The forgotten history of Langston
Elliot Williams at The Washingtonian…”In 1927, golfers petitioned Uncle Sam to build a course for African Americans. While they eventually prevailed, the replacement wasn’t much of an upgrade. Located atop an abandoned city dump in Northeast DC, Langston-named after John Mercer Langston, Howard University’s first law school dean and the first black man from Virginia elected to Congress-opened in 1939 with grass missing and just nine holes. (The other nine were added in 1955.) There were no shelters for bad weather, and the course was surrounded by disused tires and a sewage ditch. Trash and all, though, Langston was still home.”
  • “Over the years, it also became a see-and-be-seen destination. Heavyweight champion Joe Louis played an amateur tournament at Langston in 1940, drawing 2,000 fans. Lifelong golfer David Ross met Muhammad Ali one day on a putting green: “His limousine pulls up, and . . . he said to me, ‘I’ve never picked up a golf club before,’ and he reached out and got my putter.”
  • “By the 1970s, black people could comfortably play at many courses. As the demographics of the city changed around it, Langston did, too. Today newcomers-often white and in their twenties-play just as often as the old-timers. The course, however, is again in shambles. The National Park Service says it will open up operations to bidders this year and will strike a new contract by October 2020. But a similar plan to renovate was under way two years ago and ended abruptly. Longtimers hope the limbo will soon be in the past-and that after 80-some years, the course conditions will finally befit its loyal players.”

Full piece. 

7. Bobby’s missing medal
A segment of a fascinating story from Helen Ross at PGATour.com
  • …”The medal, which is slightly larger than a silver dollar, is the one Jones received when he won the 1927 Southern Open. On the front is the crest of the Southern Golf Association while the back is engraved in 14-carat gold with the words: Open Championship, Atlanta, March 1927, Won by Robert T. Jones Jr., 281 strokes.”
  • “What the younger Jones didn’t know is that serious golf collectors had wondered where it was ever since his grandfather donated all his championship medals to the United States Golf Association. The medal was the only first-place award not in the collection.”
  • “One day, Jones and his wife, Mimi, who happened to be wearing the medal, walked into a reception. A good friend, Sidney Matthew, the Tallahassee, Florida lawyer who is one of the foremost experts on all things Bobby Jones, immediately took notice.”

Full piece. 

8. A Tiger-inspired generation
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…“The world that Woods took by storm two decades ago is far different from the one he looked to reconquer last year, and different still from the one that watched him slip into a green jacket this spring. Gone are the scores of journeymen who once cobbled out a decent living on Tour without much time for practice. Same for the single-skill specialists, the ones who shined so brightly in one area as to make up for glaring deficiencies elsewhere.”
  • “This is the Tiger Effect. The one he bore and the one he’s had to overcome.”
  • “Out on Tour in 2019, you need to have the entire package. Fairways are lined not with players who spend more time at the buffet table than the gym, but instead by physical specimen who have honed their craft by combining two workouts for every round played. The era of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy is upon us, with athletes taking to golf rather than golfers gleaning athletic skills to boost their skill set.”

Full piece.

9. Youngest CWO competitor ever
BBC report on 12-year-old Michelle Liu…”As well as practicing alongside LPGA players, Liu met Henderson, 21, on the driving range on Monday and said she had a picture taken with the defending champion, who became the first home winner last year.”
  • “Liu qualified for the event, which started in 1973, via the Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship in July.”
  • “I know there is a lot of great players in the field here so I definitely say it’s going to be pretty hard,” she added.

 

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Morning 9: Will Captain Woods pick Tiger? | Would new Tour Champ format have altered past outcomes? | Pelley on slow play

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

August 20, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Captain Tiger’s expectations 
AP report…”Tiger Woods wants the eight players who made his Presidents Cup team and four more under consideration as captain’s picks to play tournaments and stay sharp over the next three months leading to the December matches Down Under.”
  • “…Woods said he told prospective Presidents Cup players at a meeting two weeks ago how important it was to be committed to the team and to the event.”
  • “And that means playing and being prepared,” he said during a conference call Monday evening. “The only time we have ever lost the Cup was in Australia, and quite frankly, some of the guys didn’t play or practice that much. It was our offseason, and we got beat pretty badly.”
2. …but will TW pick himself? 
ESPN’s Bob Harig with Woods‘ remarks on the matter…
“Woods said Monday that although the final decision remains his, he won’t participate as a player unless that is what all involved want. And even then, he might not.”
  • “My job as the captain is to put together the best team possible,” Woods said during a conference call Monday to discuss the eight players who automatically qualified for the team following the BMW Championship. “Trying to put together the best 12 guys. We’ll be going through the whole process of having communication with the top eight guys and vice captains.
  • “That is something that we’ll certainly talk about. Ultimately it’ll be my call. But I want to have all of their opinions before that decision is made.”

Full piece.

3. How Tiger will remember 2019…
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…
“The rest of the tournaments I didn’t really play as well as I wanted to,” Woods said. “But at the end of the day, I’m the one with the green jacket.”
  • “It was a perfect encapsulation of the dichotomy that ruled Woods’ 2019 campaign. For most of the year, he was mediocre and sometimes worse – this, despite coming off a season that saw him capture the Tour Championship and come within a whisker of winning the FedExCup. The good rounds were sporadic, the bad ones were more plentiful, and the few decent results usually stemmed from a palatable final round that began with Woods well out of contention.”
  • “In fact, there was only one tournament all year where Woods even finished within eight shots of the winner. But that’s also the only one most people will remember.”

Full piece.

4. What if…
Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington on what the past FedEx Cup finales would have looked like with the current seeding…
  • “What if, however, the system that begins this week had been in place the previous 12 years of the FedEx Cup? How might history be different?”
  • “As it turns out, not all that much. And that’s the way the tour officials wanted it, having run thousands of computer simulations to try and approximate as best they could the point differential in play under the old system.”
  • “We went back all 12 years, took the top 30 in the FedEx Cup list entering East Lake and applied the adjusted strokes to the players scores at the Tour Championship to determine who would have won if the new format was used retroactively.”
  • “Nine times the actual FedEx Cup winner also would have won in the new strokes-based system, and a 10th time the winner (Jim Furyk in 2010) would have been in a sudden-death playoff for the title.”
5. Steph Curry bankrolls Howard golf
Our Gianni Magliocco…”NBA star and avid golfer Stephen Curry has donated a seven-figure sum to Howard University in a move that will see men’s and women’s golf teams at the school for at least the next six years.”
  • “As the Washington Post reported on Monday, this will be the first time the school will compete at the Division I level in the sport, and the university plans to have the teams ready to compete for the 2020/21 academic year.”
  • “Curry’s donation was partly inspired by Howard senior and golfer Otis Ferguson IV, and speaking on bringing golf back to Howard, the 31-year-old stated”
  • “Golf is a sport that has changed my life in ways that are less tangible, but just as impactful. It’s a discipline that challenges your mental wherewithal from patience to focus, and is impossible to truly master, so when you hear about these passionate student athletes who have the talent but don’t have a fair shot at the game, it’s tough. I feel really honored to play a small role in the rich history of Howard University.”
6. U.S. Am ratings…
Per Geoff Shackelford…”According to Sports Business Daily, the 2019 BMW Championship drew a 1.9 Saturday audience and a 2.4 for Sunday’s final round on NBC, well up over non-Tiger-contending Wyndham Championship’s previously played in this schedule spot.  The 2018 Wyndham drew a 1.9.”
“The slide in US Amateur interest and visibility continued with a .4 Saturday and a .3 for Sunday’s finale on Fox going head-to-head with most of the BMW final round. Talk about an event screaming out for a change in its Monday to Sunday format to avoid being an afterthought.”
7. Do away with the Tour Championship name? 
Randall Mell says it no longer applies…
  • “The Tour Championship isn’t really a “tournament” anymore.”
  • “They’re hosting something bigger and better at East Lake in Atlanta this week, something completely different.”
  • “They’re hosting the FedExCup Finale.”
  • “Really, the PGA Tour ought to rename this week’s event exactly that, because keeping “Tour Championship” shackles fans to conventions that offend traditional sensibilities. You don’t, after all, start a tournament with a lead of seven or more shots on two-thirds of the field, the way Justin Thomas will.”

Full piece.

8. Ogletree’s tough love short game lesson
Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington on the discussion between Georgia Tech’s coach and the eventual U.S. Am winner…
  • “The tough-love conversation between Ogletree and Heppler had become the stuff of legend in the Georgia Tech camp. They were at Blaze Pizza in Atlanta last November, and Heppler let Ogletree know he had the game tee-to-green to be a successful tour pro, but the reason he had yet to win a college event was that he just wasn’t good enough around the greens.”
  • “Ogletree played the equivalent of six under par for 35 holes en route to the title. So Ogletree did something about it, working with Jeff Patton on technique in the sand. Meanwhile, teammate Noah Norton helped him with some putting drills. Ogletree put in time daily at the short-game area. And in the spring semester, he saw his stroke average drop 1½ shots without hitting his driver or irons any different.”
  • If perseverance in part characterizes Ogletree’s golf development, it certainly describes how he claimed the Havemeyer Trophy on Sunday. The day started with promise; Ogletree shot the equivalent of a 67 on Pinehurst No. 4 during the morning 18 (for the first time in U.S. Amateur history the 36-hole final was contested over two courses). The problem? Augenstein, a rising senior at Vanderbilt, shot a 65, and held a 2-up lead.”

Full piece.

9. Euro Tour chief on slow play
Keith Pelley penned an op-ed of sorts for EuropeanTour.com, that reads in part…
“Slow players, on the other hand, have become increasingly prevalent and problematic in our game in recent years, to the extent that we risk fans, both core and casual, switching off if we don’t do something about it.”
  • “The European Tour has been at the forefront of the assault on slow play for the last four years. We have the most aggressive monitoring policy in our sport, and we have issued shot penalties, but the past four months showed us finally that the time had arrived when players were willing to take a tough stance and we applauded that.”
  • “Slow play became a critical issue because our players wanted it to be.  That moment was the door opening and the mandate we were given at May’s tournament committee meeting empowered our operations and rules team to present stronger, more robust recommendations”
  • “We took a formal proposal back to the next Tournament Committee meeting at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open last month and following some fine tuning over the past six weeks, we yesterday publicly announced a four-point plan focusing on regulation, education, innovation and field size reduction where appropriate.”

 

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