by Joyce McCann – 18ers Rules Chair

A sliced tee-shot on the fifth hole on the Dollar course often lands around the corner in a place that can’t be seen from the teeing area. The ball may either be in the rough difficult to find or possibly OB. Under the old Rules, you had two options:

1)      You could walk forward and hope the ball was in-bounds and that you could find it. If your hope didn’t pan out, you would then have to walk back to the tee, taking stroke and distance penalty (i.e., you would be hitting your 3rd shot from the tee).

2)      You could hit a provisional ball from the tee, announcing your intent before you hit the shot. If you didn’t pre-announce your intent, under both the old and new rules, the provisional automatically becomes the ball in play with stroke and distance penalty (i.e., it is your 3rd shot) regardless of what happened to your original shot (New Rule 18.3). Under the Old Rules, you could not hit a provisional after you started walking forward to search for the original ball, but under the New Rules you can.  However, you can only do this if the new 3-minute search-time limit (New Definition of “Lost”)  has not expired by the time you actually hit the provisional (Interpretation 18.3a/2). Frankly, it seems difficult to satisfy this requirement within 3-minutes, but that’s what the New Rule says!

Importantly, under the New Rules, you now have a new option – Model Local Rule E-5 (Official Guide to the Rules of Golf, p468). This local rule was recently adopted by the 18ers for all play on the Dollar course including the Club Championship. Here’s how it works. For two penalty strokes, this new local rule allows you to drop a ball on the fairway no nearer the hole than where you estimate your lost or OB ball may be. The procedure for identifying the relief area (the area in which you can drop the ball) is a little complicated.

Following is a brief description:

  1. Determine the ball reference point, which is your best estimate of where your lost or OB ball is.
  2. Determine the fairway reference point, which is the point of fairway of the hole you are playing that is nearest to the ball reference point but not nearer the hole.
  3. The relief area is anywhere between: a) A line from the hole through the ball reference point, and within 2-driver lengths to the outside of that line; and b) a line from the hole through the fairway reference point, and within 2-driver lengths to the fairway side of that line.


If you elect to use this new local rule, your next shot will be your 4th. Thus, it is as though you had opted to hit a provisional which landed in the fairway.

So, how to decide which relief option to take? An important factor to take into account on the 5th hole is that there is quite a lot of rough on the right side of the fairway. Thus, if you tend to slice the ball, a provisional hit from the teeing area may very well end up in the rough. The new local rule allows you to ensure that your 4th shot will be from the fairway. On the other hand, if your tee shot was really awful and didn’t get far from the teeing area before disappearing to the right, the best decision may be to hit a provisional. One thing to keep in mind when contemplating these options is that, if you have already hit a provisional, you cannot then decide to use the new local rule option, i.e., you can’t have it both ways!