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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.

75 Comments

75 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. Bob Slavonia

    Oct 19, 2018 at 8:52 am

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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>?

  14. 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

  15. 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!

  16. 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).

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. Joe Perdue

    Sep 17, 2018 at 11:57 am

    What an awful rules change. Absolutely awful.

  24. 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…

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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 !!!!

  28. 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.

  29. 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

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. Begemot

    Sep 13, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    just take a mulligan and be done with it

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 2putttom

    Sep 13, 2018 at 1:04 pm

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

  36. 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.

  37. 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….

  38. 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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Danny Willett spotted with new Odyssey prototype putter, putter shaft

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You may have seen Danny Willett’s name near the top of the leaderboard at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. At 10 under, the Englishman sits one stroke behind fellow countryman Matt Wallace.

You may not have seen, however, that the 2016 Masters champ has a new Odyssey prototype putter in the bag.

(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

(Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

All the company would say

“Willett first put in his new gamer last week at the Nedbank Challenge. Willett’s prototype putter also features a new prototype Odyssey shaft to help improve the consistency of the putting stroke.”

Willet has historically favored his blade-style Odyssey O-Works #1 W. More recently, at the Turkish Airlines Open, we spotted him with an Odyssey Versa Jailbird Black. However, the prototype in question is clearly a heel-shafted mallet with a different insert than the 1 W or the Jailbird. The insert looks to be the White Hot Microhinge. Obviously, the two-tone, potentially multi-material, shaft, and the technology therein, is notable as well. Also apparently two-tone, the putter head, which looks similar in shape to a Tank Cruiser and similarly has a pair of sole weights.

Do we need the TG2 to break down the few photos we have like the Zapruder film? We’ll continue digging, in the meantime, let us know what you think, GolfWRX Members!

 

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McIlroy snaps back at McGinley criticism: “Next year, I’m looking out for me”

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Earlier this week, Rory McIlroy suggested that he would leave the European Tour in 2019 which produced criticism from Irish golfer and analyst Paul McGinley, who called the decision “extraordinary” and “hard to understand.”

McIlroy, who is currently in action at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, indicated before the event that he would only play in two “pure” European Tour events next year. When told about McGinley’s negative reaction to the news on Thursday, McIlroy hit back in unrepentant style. The 29-year-old defiantly expressed how 2019 will be the year he puts himself first in a bid to end a major drought dating back to 2014, while also suggesting that just like himself, McGinley has his own interests in mind.

“McGinley is on the European Tour board. He’s involved and he has to protect what he has, and I get it. Everyone has to do what’s best for them and for me next year I’m trying to do what’s best for me to help get back to the best player in the world and try to win majors again.”

Should McIlroy decide not to renew his European Tour membership for 2019, he would be unable to captain his continent in future Ryder Cup’s, due to a European Tour rule introduced last year. When asked about his thoughts on that particular issue, McIlroy appeared to show no concern, bluntly replying: “It’s 20 years away”.

McIlroy confirmed that he had met with European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley in South Africa last week to brief him on his plans for 2019. But while the move to quit the European Tour looks increasingly likely, McIlroy was not ready to drop any bombshells in Dubai, and even poked fun at the controversy, stating

“Geez, I’d cause all the stirs in the world if I go back to winning majors. Next year I am looking out for me. At the same time, I don’t have to make a decision on it. I didn’t say it was a definite. It is up in the air. We’ll see how it goes.”

McIlroy has until next May to decide whether or not to renew his European Tour membership for 2019.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: McIlroy: Looking out for No. 1 | Ogilvy: Aus. Open is “second class” | Hole-in-one: yardage unknown

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

November 16, 2018

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Kuch Down Under + player doesn’t know hole distance, makes hole-in-one anyway, wins $17K watch
Matt Kuchar went, “from Hola to Aloha,” at the Mayakoba Classic, to continuing his strong form some 9,000 miles away at the Australian Open.
  • Aus. Associated Press…”South Korea’s Byeong Hun An has sensationally reclaimed the Australian Open lead with a hole-in-one late in his second round.”
  • “Starting Friday with the lead at The Lakes, An watched as American Matt Kuchar and Australian amateur David Micheluzzi entered the clubhouse at seven under par after playing in the morning wave.”
  • “But An shot back to the top of the leaderboard with an ace at the 197m par-3 15th that rocketed the former US Amateur champion to eight under.”
  • “Hit it good, nice fading back to the hole and went in. This is my third one but first with a prize,” the smiling Korean said after earning himself a $17,000 Swiss watch. “It was a soft seven iron. I didn’t even know the distance. My caddie just said to hit seven iron and take five (metres) off.”
2. …of course, also on the subject of the Australian Open…
Geoff Ogilvy, one of the most eloquent and outspoken major winners from Australia had some strong words about the state of his national open.
  • Golfweek’s Kevin Casey on Ogilvy’s remarks’…”Unfortunately, the Australian Open appears to be stuck in a bit of a rut. Tiger Woods has participated in the event and past winners include Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.”
  • “But in this week’s edition, Scott, Jason Day and Marc Leishman are famous countrymen who have decided not to be a part of the field.”
  • “It signals the continuing issues the event has with getting the strong fields it used to. And Aussies can’t help but take notice.”
  • “I hate to say this, but the Australian Open feels like a second-rate tournament now,” Geoff Ogilvy said, per Golfmagic.com. “I’m sure it is run in the same way it was 30 years ago, but tournaments elsewhere have progressed so much, and the differences show.” [NOTE: Golfmagic.com pulled from Ogilvy’s exclusive column for Golf Australia]
3. Meanwhile, in Dubai…
The official game story from EuropeanTour.com…”Jordan Smith and Adrian Otaegui shared the lead after day one of the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai as Francesco Molinari tightened his grip on the European Tour’s season-long crown.”
  • “Smith and Otaegui carded rounds of 66 at Jumeirah Golf Estates to sit at six under, one shot clear of defending champion Jon Rahm and Major Championship winner Danny Willett….Italian Molinari knows a tie for fifth with one other or better will secure him the Race to Dubai title and he was just a shot further back after a 68 on the Earth Course.”
  • Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood needs a victory at the eighth and final Rolex Series event of the season to have any chance of denying Molinari, and the Englishman was three shots off the lead after a 69.

Full piece.

4. And at Sea Island…
Unofficially, a Titleist man now, Chucky Three Sticks got off to a stellar start at Sea Island.
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin…”Charles Howell III knew he needed to take advantage of Thursday’s tee time on Sea Island’s Plantation Course.”
  • “It was cold and windy during the first round of The RSM Classic. The inland Plantation Course, with its tree-lined fairways, protected players from the worst of the weather, though. Plantation played nearly a stroke under par Thursday, while players averaged more than one stroke over par on the Sea Island Resort’s Seaside Course.”
  • “Howell lowered Plantation’s scoring average even more with an 8-under 64 that gave him a two-shot lead after The RSM Classic’s first-round lead…He hit every fairway and every green for the first time in his career. It was the seventh time he hit all 18 greens in a single round.”
  • “I think sometimes playing these difficult conditions it forces you to stay a bit more present, it forces you to stay kind of in the moment a bit,” he said. “It’s hard to get too far ahead of yourself because of the difficulty of every shot coming.”
5. Closing stretch of the Race
Ron Sirak…”Nothing like the prospect of winning $1 million to mess up your mind a wee bit. In the final Race to the CME Globe before the CME Group Tour Championship changes its format, the five players who can win the bonus by winning here find themselves looking up at Amy Olson with Nasa Hataoka having the best view.”
  • “Olson blistered Tiburón Golf Club for a nine-under-par 63 in Thursday’s first round of the LPGA’s season-ending event while Hataoka, one of the five with one hand on the bonus, was a stroke back along with Brittany Lincicome after a birdie barrage on a Tiburón course softened by early morning rain.”
  • “The 63 by Olson, who teed off in a drizzle in the second group, was one off the tournament course record by Lydia Ko in 2016. Hataoka nearly matched her, making eight birdies, including the final two holes, while Lincicome would have shared the lead if not for a bogey on the final hole. Lexi Thompson is at 65 with Carlota Ciganda at 66 and Lindy Duncan and Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras at 67.”
6. McIlroy: “I’m doing Me-Ilroy”
Well, that’s not exactly what the Ulsterman said, but essentially…
  • And while he’ll attract criticism, rightly or wrongly, it’s worth noting the extreme degree of selfishness required to be the best (perhaps something McIlroy has been questioned for not having in the past). If one wants to be the best golfer in the world, prep for and peak at majors, playing the vast majority of one’s golf on the PGA Tour is the only route. With all due respect to Justin Thomas, it is the route nearly ever recent No. 1 has taken. And Rory should act differently because he is…from Northern Ireland? What sense does that make?
  • Via Alistair Tait at Golfweek...”Everyone has to look out for themselves and next year I’m looking out for me,” McIlroy said. “At the same time, I don’t have to make a decision on it.”
  • “I didn’t say that it was a definite. It’s up in the air. I don’t have to make a decision till May. We’ll see how it goes. McGinley is on the European Tour board, he’s involved and he has to protect what he has and I get it.
  • “Everyone has to do what’s best for them and, for me next year, I’m trying to do what’s best for me to help get back to the best player in the world and try to win majors again.”
7. Rounding out the lineup
The steady drip of details/stuff they’ve just figured out continues with the announcement of the, well, announcers.
  • Golfworld’s Stephen Hennessey...”Tiger’s buddy Charles Barkley, along with Samuel L. Jackson, will work as special guests of the pre-match coverage, and they’ll also contribute during select moments of the actual competition, according to event organizers. Long-time TNT Sports anchor Ernie Johnson will provide the play-by-play, and Peter Jacobson and Darren Clarke will offer their analysis as color commentators.”
  • “Current PGA Tour pro Pat Perez, who like Mickelson and Woods grew up in California and competed against Tiger as a junior golfer, will also join the pre-match coverage with Bleacher Report’s Adam Lefkoe. LPGA star Natalie Gulbis and FOX Sports reporter Shane Bacon will provide reports from inside the ropes.”

Full piece.

8. Inside Kuch’s switcharoo
I talked with a few of Bridgestone’s ball wonks about staffer Matt Kuchar’s ball switch ahead of his Mayakoba win.
  • One of those changes: his golf ball. Now, given Kuch’s club head speed last year – 107.97 mph (183rd on Tour) – your wouldn’t have thought the happy warrior would  switch to a lower-spinning golf ball. However, that’s just what he did, making the move from Bridgestone’s Tour B XS to its Tour B X. And according to the company, he did so after a recent fitting session in which he was driving the X seven yards farther than the XS.
  • I had a chance to ask , and Adam Rehberg, the company’s Golf Ball Fitting Manager, about the switch.
  • So, what was the thinking/data that had Matt Kuchar playing the XS originally?…Elliot Mellow, Bridgestone’s Golf Ball Marketing Manager: “Matt had historically been in our higher spin spec – he appreciated the spin control into and around the green. For years, the B330-S and then the Tour B XS, allowed Matt to hit his windows and optimize trajectory. As he started to reevaluate his fit, there were really two things in play here that allowed the door to be opened for Matt to explore a more distance spec ball: Over the years, we have continued to soften the covers of all Tour balls. So in our distance spec, the Tour B X, you really don’t sacrifice spin for distance, it still is a great spin control ball with irons and wedges. The other thing to consider is some of the club set-ups for Matt have changed, which allowed us to reevaluate his fit.”
9. Debating the left-foot flare
For something a little different, here’s a piece from our Rod Lidenberg that we published late yesterday. Lidenberg debates the merits of the flared left foot at address (ala Ben Hogan’s suggestions). Needless to say, it’s awakening a strong response from the GolfWRX readership.
  • A taste of Ron’s argument...”The subject of this piece is not to debate Hogan’s hip action but the piece that accompanied it, the 15-degree flare of the left foot. I’m of the opinion that it is not only wrong. Because of its toxic nature, it is DEAD WRONG.  The reason has to do with the tailbone, which determines the motion of the hips in the swing. The more the left foot opens up at address, the more the tailbone angles backward. That encourages the hips to “spin out” in the downswing, which means they have turned before the player’s weight has been allowed to move forward to their left foot and left knee.”
  • “As a consequence of the hips spinning out, players move their weight backward (toward the right foot), encouraging a swing that works out-to-in across the body. You can see this swing played out on the first tee of any public golf course on a Saturday morning.”
  • “The problem with the 15-degree foot flare is that it promotes, if not guarantees, the following swing issues:…In the backswing, the flared left foot: 1: Discourages a full left- hip turn. 2: Encourages the improper motion of the left-knee outward rather than back. 3: Reduces the degree that the torso can turn because of the restrictions placed on the left hip.”
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