Lost Golf Ball Rule: USGA Rule 27-1

In this guide, we are going to talk about the Lost Golf Ball Rule in Golf which falls under USGA Rule 27-1.

Losing your golf ball is quite common during an 18 hole round. Let’s be real, us average players usually lose 3 to 4 golf balls per round. It happens.

So what should we do if we lose a golf ball? How many penalty strokes? Where do we play the next shot from?

These are questions we will explore below in today’s golf rules question of the day coming from the USGA rule book 27-1.

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What is a Lost Golf Ball?

A lost golf ball occurs when you cannot locate your ball on the golf course. You watched it land from far away and by the time you get near where you think it will be, the ball just can’t seem to be found.

Sometimes golf balls plug in the ground, roll into water, disappear in someone else’s yard, roll underneath shrubs and plants, and much more.

How Much Time to Search for a Lost Golf Ball?

According to Rule 27-1-c you can allow yourself 3 minutes to search for a lost golf ball from the time you get up to where you thought the ball would be. After that 3 minutes expires you must declare your ball as lost.

How Many Penalty Strokes for a Lost Golf Ball?

Once you declare your golf ball lost, you will incur a one stroke penalty. You also must replay the shot from as nearest point as possible to the last location you played from.

In other words, if you hit a tee shot and couldn’t find it, go back and hit again on the tee box.

What You Shouldn’t Do

You should NEVER drop a golf ball near where you think you lost it and play from there. This is breaking the rules. You must sacrifice the yardage and go back to where you last hit from.

If you fail to go back, and instead drop a ball where you lost your ball, you will incur a two stroke penalty and/or lose the hole if it’s match play.

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Since you are losing both a stroke and distance when dealing with a lost golf ball, it may help speed up play to use a provisional ball. When hitting your tee shot, you may see your ball disappear right then and think you may have trouble finding it.

If you anticipate this lost ball situation ahead of time, you can play a second tee shot as a provisional ball so that if you get up to your original ball and can’t find it, you can move on to your provisional ball. Announce it to the group so everyone is aware what you are doing.

This provisional ball would be your 3rd stroke since you hit your first on the tee box and took a one stroke penalty after not finding it. Once you get to your provisional ball, it is now lying 3, and you’ll be hitting your fourth shot, hopefully from the fairway.

Overall, this is the proper way to handle a Lost Golf Ball situation under Rule 27-1. Remind this to fellow playing partners if they happen to lose their golf ball during your match.

Golf Practice Routines & Drills to Follow

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