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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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Tour News

Keegan Bradley Puts Srixon Z-Forged Blades in the bag

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This week at the BMW Championship, Srixon staff member Keegan Bradley switched irons from the cult classic Z745 to the company’s current Z-Forged blade irons.

For most players, an iron change is not something you would do during the playoffs, but when talking to the team at Srixon, Keegan had been trying to replace his set for a little while. The Z745s were getting on in years and with recent swing changes, he was also looking for more consistent numbers and distance control. That’s an impressive request from one of the top-50 ballstrikers on tour

Let’s take a quick look at his stats

  • 12th in Proximity to Hole with an average distance of 34.2″
  • 16th in Strokes Gained Approach with .642
  • 38th in Greens in Regulation at 68.45%

His new Z-Forged Iron setup is 4-PW with Nippon Tour 120 X shafts.

Although Keegan started the BMW Championship in 66th place in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, he still has a chance of making it to the Tour Championship with a solid weekend in Chicago.

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Senior golf: Practical suggestions for lowering your scores

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This is the second article is our senior series. I was away for a while, so let’s get back to helping you seniors! If you missed the first article, take a look.

I live just a few yards from the green of a par 3, and it never ceases to amaze me the number of times I see two shots turned into three. Or more. All golfers, (particularly seniors) looking to cut their scores need to pay attention, not just to putts, but to the simple up and down opportunities that they missed. The par three by my house plays anywhere from 160 to 200 years, has a pond bordering the green on the left, and out of bounds (MY HOUSE) on the right. So it’s not an easy hole, and golfers miss that green all day; but even the poorer shots will come within 15, maybe 20 yards of the green. I see no reason a player should leave that hole with anything more than a bogey. Yet I see fives and sixes more than you can imagine…a chip shot is a very simple shot to learn.

MOST of your senior golf years should be spent chipping, pitching and putting.  Here’s why:

After a certain age. or perhaps when one has played a certain number of years, your golf swing can be changed slightly at the most! By slightly I mean this: Let’s say you are a 15 handicap player, you are hitting around five greens a round in regulation. If you make huge improvement in your swing, you may get to seven greens a round in regulation (the average of a 10-handicap player). That still leaves you 11-12 times per round OFF THE GREEN. Now, it’s true of course that swing improvements can also lead to missing closer to the green, but even here we are talking perhaps a pitch instead of a chip from the edge. BOTH these shots are within the skill set of most any golfer if they think and play differently around the greens. Hitting more greens is not always in that player’s capability, but getting the golf ball in the hole in fewer strokes IS!

I’ll use the green by my house as an example: the green is over 25 paces (75 feet) long. Like most courses, carts are kept on the cart path on all par 3s. I can’t begin to tell you how many players leave the cart with ONE, maybe TWO clubs regardless of the length of the shot. Those clubs are very often a wedge (of some loft) and/or a sand/lob wedge. Again most golfers are short with their tee shots (on all holes not just par 3s). So now they are standing in front of chip possibly 70-80 feet long with a 55-degree club. They either stub it or skull it, leaving themselves in double-bogey (or worse) position. That club selection is like taking a hit on 16 in blackjack when the dealer is showing 6!

Again, I know studies show that ballstriking is primary. Of course, you have to get your swing to the point where you can get the ball in play off the tee, but let me ask this question: when ballstriking is as good as it is going to get, you will still miss plenty of greens. What then? Are you doomed to shoot 94 because your swing cannot change greatly? The answer is NO, if you think better, and learn to hit short shots better. A big change in a golf swing requires time and athleticism. Short shots need technique and feel, but MUCH less strength, flexibility or general athleticism.

As a general rule, I teach most of my students the following priority list when near the green

  • PUTT whenever you can
  • CHIP if you can’t putt
  • PITCH only when you must.

Putting and straightforward chipping or bumping-and-running is a MUCH higher percentage shot. Do yourself a favor and play the shot that you are most capable of NOT the one you’ve seen on TV. Look, you’re probably not gonna hole a chip or pitch, so where do you want to be on your next shot?

Many of you have heard of the “rule of 12.” I’m going to try to explain this as simple as possible and suggest quick math for the course.

  • Pace off the distance you want the golf ball to fly and land two paces (5-6 yards) on the green. NO FURTHER THAN THAT!
  • Let’s say that distance is 4 paces (two yards off the green, two yards to land on the green).
  • Now pace from that point to the hole. Let’s say for the sake of simplicity the hole is 8 yards (25 feet or so) from the landing spot.
  • You have a 2 to 1 relationship of carry to roll.
  • Here’s how to do quick course math in your head: 12-2=10 iron, PW
  • If you have 3X roll vs carry, 12-3=9, iron.
  • If you have 4X roll vs carry, 12-4=8 iron. and so on…
  • This is NOT CAST IN STONE, it is merely a guide.
  • NOTE:  This applies to chipping only; next time I’ll deal with pitching. And course, just like putting uphill, downhill, into grain, down grain etc. have to be taken into consideration.

 Simple drill:  Put a headcover two paces on the green. Chip to it, no further! See what club it takes to reach various hole positions.

No one knows better than a golf instructor of nearly 40 years how difficult it is to get someone to change their habits. I can’t tell you how many times I have suggested people try another approach around the green, and invariably they go right back to their “favorite club.” It’s your choice, but PLEASE practice your short game most of the time!

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Morning 9: U.S. Am, BMW report | Tiger’s start | ROY race

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

August 16, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Round 1 report
AP report on Justin Thomas’ opening-round 65…”On the range, Justin Thomas had no idea where the ball was going. Some five hours later, he had a share of the course record at Medinah.”
  • “Ultimately, all that mattered Thursday in the BMW Championship was taking a good step toward an important goal. Thomas already is set for the TOUR Championship next week and the chase for FedExCup and its $15 million prize. That’s not what interests him.”
  • “It’s about winning tournaments,” he said.
  • “He made his first birdie after hitting a tree on the fourth hole, leaving him a 5-iron he hit to 2 feet. His last birdie was a putt from about 60 feet on the fringe from the back of the 16th green. He did enough right in between for a 7-under 65 and a share of the lead with Jason Kokrak.”

Full piece.

2. U.S. Am
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard on the action from the Round of 16…
  • “The afternoon session on Pinehurst No. 2 began with a handful of lopsided matches, highlighted by Parker Coody’s 6 and 5 loss to Spencer Ralston. Before his Round of 16 loss, Coody had been cruising through match play with victories of 7 and 6 on Wednesday and 5 and 4 in Thursday’s morning Round of 32.”
  • “Georgia Tech’s Andy Ogletree followed suit shortly after with a 5 and 4 victory over Blake Hathcoat, with 17-year-old junior golfer Cohen Trolio defeating Alex Fitzpatrick by the same margin. Fellow teenager Palmer Jackson, 18, earned a 2 up victory over Isaiah Salinda, who earlier this Spring went 3-0 in match play to help lead his Stanford Cardinal to the NCAA national championship.”

Full piece.

Other matches: Austin Squires topped John Pak…William Holcomb V beat Pierceson Coody…Karl Vilips eliminated Brad Dalke…
3. Green in front
EuropeanTour.com report…”Gavin Green picked up where he left off 12 months ago with an opening 64 to take the first round lead at the D+D Real Czech Masters.”
  • “The Malaysian made his debut at Albatross Golf Resort last season and was one of four players to match the course record with an opening 64 before he went on to post the lowest 36 hole total in tournament history.”
  • “Another eight under par effort handed him the solo lead after 18 holes this time around, as he led the way from England’s Lee Slattery and South African Erik van Rooyen.”

Full piece.

4. Tiger’s start
Steve DiMeglio for Golfweek“On a day when most players were in the Diamond Lane rising to the top of the leaderboard as venerable Medinah Country Club was vulnerable after recent rains, Woods got stuck in the slow lane and got lost in the leaders’ rearview mirrors.”
  • “Woods put his signature to a pedestrian 1-under-par 71 on a day when nearly half the field was speeding along in the 60s. While breaking par was a victory for Woods after he was forced to withdraw from last week’s Northern Trust with an oblique strain, there was little to celebrate.”
  • “Once I got on the golf course and felt how soft the greens were, it’s like, ‘Hey, we’ve got to go. We’ve got to make birdies,'” said Woods, who did make three in his first five holes but only one after that. “I didn’t feel any tightness in my oblique at all, so that was a positive, and I just need to clean up my rounds and get going. Seems like the whole field is under par. The golf course is soft. Even though it’s long, it’s just gettable.”
5. ROY race
Cameron Morfit at PGATour.com…”It was hard to miss the symbolism as Sungjae Im, 26th in the FedExCup and the current favorite for Rookie of the Year, stroked putts on the practice green after an opening-round, 2-under 70 at the BMW Championship at Medinah No. 3.”
  • “That’s because behind him, meeting the press after his 5-under 67, was Collin Morikawa.”
  • “…Five rookies have advanced to the 69-player BMW Championship: frontrunner Im (FedExCup No. 26), Morikawa (57), Cameron Champ (58), Adam Long (65) and Wyndham Clark (68).”
6. The fateful call
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta…”Speaking on Wednesday night as part of his induction into the Western Golf Association’s Caddie Hall of Fame, LaCava regaled attendees with this simple back and forth between him and his current boss, Tiger Woods, circa 2011.”
  • Woods to LaCava: “Are you interested [in being my caddie]?”
  • LaCava: “F*** yeah, I’m interested!”

Full piece.

7. Viktor! 
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker…”When the PGA Tour regular season ended a couple of weeks ago, former Oklahoma State star Viktor Hovland found himself on the wrong side of getting his card straight out of college, coming up an agonizing 67 FedEx Cup points short.”
  • “Naturally, there was a swell of support that he should be granted one anyway, since in five of his starts he didn’t earn any points because he was an amateur. Among the finishes that didn’t count: A T-12 at the U.S. Open and a T-32 at the Masters. Had he been retroactively awarded those points, he would have earned enough to qualify for the Playoffs and more importantly gotten a card for next season.”
  • “I knew going in that most likely the way I had to make my PGA Tour card was through the Korn Ferry [Tour] Finals,” Hovland said from this week’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in Ohio, where he continues his quest to earn a PGA Tour card. “So I’m looking forward to getting off to a good start here at Scarlet.”

Full piece.

8. Top instructors on slow play
Digest’s Matthew Rudy chatted with some of the biggest names in instruction about pace-of-play in pro golf…
  • “Jim McLean (Jim McLean Golf School at the Biltmore, Coral Gables, Fla.): It’s a major issue. Slow play ruins golf, whether you’re talking about a tour event or a regular weekend round at a public course. How many tee times is a course losing when a round takes five and a half hours?”
  • “Mark Blackburn (Greystone Golf & Country Club, Birmingham, Ala.): Yes, it’s an issue for the Tour, but I wouldn’t call it a universal issue. So much of it has to do with course design. In the U.S., you’re usually riding, and the tee boxes are far away from the previous green. I walked 11 miles following [student] Chez Reavie in Kapalua. That takes time. A course with water and sand? It just takes longer. They’re not having the same problems in the U.K., where the classic courses have tees and greens that are closer together. You’re playing in two and a half hours over there.”

Full piece.

9. Screw the haters
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta…”During the Wednesday round he recorded a video for another user’s Snapchat account, which was subsequently recorded and made the rounds in a more public manner.”
  • “In the video DeChambeau remains unapologetic, noting that despite the viral putt he was “never on the clock last week” at Liberty National.”
  • “I’m out here, doing the right thing, having a great time with the pro-am guys, killing it,” DeChambeau said. “And honestly, we’re on these guys’ asses all the time. Last week I played under time par, this week we’ll do the same thing.”
  • …”Y’all can say whatever you want, but we’re having a f—ing awesome time,” DeChambeau said. “So screw all y’all haters, no big deal. I still love you all, even though you hate me.”
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