How to Proceed

- Rules Question 12-31-2022 - 

On a long par 4, you hook your tee shot into a large area of rocks to the left of the hole. You play a provisional ball that comes to rest on the right side of the fairway the same distance from the hole as where you estimate your original ball to be. Although spectators are already looking in the rocks for your original ball, you choose not to search for it, believing you won’t be able to play it from the rocks and that stroke-and-distance relief is your only good option. You ask the spectators to stop looking and declare the ball lost. You then make a stroke at your provisional ball, and it comes to rest on the green, close to the hole. After having marked the spot of and lifted your provisional ball from the putting green, you hear that a spectator found your original ball in a terrible lie amongst the rocks after having searched for about 10 minutes. Which one of the following statements is true?

A.  Once you declared your original ball lost, the fact that someone found it is irrelevant. You must continue with the provisional ball.

B. Your original could no longer be played when you played another stroke with the provisional ball from at or nearer to the hole than where the original ball was estimated to be, so your provisional ball is in in play.

C. Since your original was found in an unplayable position, you can declare it unplayable and continue with your provisional ball under penalty of stroke and distance.

D. You must abandon your provisional ball and proceed with your original ball. If it is unplayable, your best option might be to return to the tee to make your third stroke.

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