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26-1/3.7 Ball Dropped Under Water Hazard Rule Without It Being Known or Virtually Certain Ball in Hazard; Original Ball Then Found

Q. A player’s ball is struck towards a water hazard and is not found. It is neither known nor virtually certain that the player’s ball is in the water hazard, but he drops a ball under Rule 26-1b. Before he plays the dropped ball, his original ball is found within the five-minute search period. What is the ruling?

A. It was neither known nor virtually certain that the player’s ball was in the water hazard when he put the substituted ball into play, and, therefore, that ball was incorrectly substituted under an inapplicable Rule.

The player must correct his error under Rule 20-6 by abandoning the substituted ball and continuing play with the original ball. If the original ball was found inside the water hazard, the player may proceed under Rule 26-1.

If the player failed to correct his improper procedure and played the dropped ball, he has proceeded under an inapplicable Rule and incurred a penalty (see Decision 34-3/6). The ruling would be that the player has proceeded under Rule 27-1 (the only Rule that applied to his situation), incurring the one-stroke penalty under that Rule. Additionally, as he played the ball from a wrong place (i.e. a place not permitted by Rule 27-1), he incurred the general penalty, loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play, for a breach of Rule 27-1. In stroke play, the Committee must determine whether the player committed a serious breach when he played from the wrong place (Rule 20-7c). (New)