New Rules of Golf: Searching For Your Ball

We have all spent time looking for golf balls. Whether it is our own or your playing partners’, walking through the rougher parts of the golf course is normal. If I have to look repeatedly for a golf ball, it does throw off my game, especially if the player I am with refuses to give up looking. You know that player, the one that spends more time looking for his 2 dollar ball then he spends researching before he buys a new car. It is very frustrating and has a tendency to ruin the flow of everyone’s game. Hence, the new rules of golf are designed to change that…..or will it?

Here is what the USGA is proposing to take effect on 1 January 2019:

Proposed Rule: Under new Rule 18.2, the time for a ball search (before the ball becomes lost) would be reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.

Reasons for Change:

Limiting the search period to 3 minutes is more consistent with the underlying principle that golf is to be played in a prompt and continuous way, without long pauses in play.

In most cases, if the ball is going to be found, it will be found within the first 3 minutes.

Although this change may increase the number of lost balls, on average the overall impact should be to speed up play.

Knowing that the search time is limited to 3 minutes should encourage players to play a provisional ball when they believe there is a chance their ball may not be found. (USGA)

I understand and agree with the new rule changes, however I do not think it will have the effect the USGA is striving for. I do not think that the players who take an extended period or time looking for their ball really care about the time limits under the rules of golf; they will look for as long as they feel needed.

As it turns out, roughly 90% of golfers already spend approximately 3 minutes looking for their golf ball, so why the rule change?

I do have to mention a great comment by cencalhack on Twitter: “What people think or actual time”. Time does have a tendency to slip away as we look, but it is a great distinction nonetheless. Often, people look longer than they think.

I think the only aspect of golf this rule change will affect is during competition. The players will take a shorter amount of time when looking, but other than during those instances, the rule change is a push. Personally, I support the rule change, but do not think this change will meet the USGA’s intent.

What do you think?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

Written by Jim Burton from The Grateful Golfer blog.

6 thoughts on “New Rules of Golf: Searching For Your Ball

  1. Hey Jim,
    I agree with you and support the rule change as well. But you’re right, the people who search too long may continue to do it. I notice when people are searching for their own ball they’re a lot more optimistic and willing to look longer than when searching for someone else’s ball…lol


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am with you. I think the change is good, but I doubt it will change anything for us amateurs. Some of us don’t bother spending two minutes looking for a ball. And others will happily spend ten minutes even though they didn’t lose one themselves at all. I actually played with a guy once who scored his game by how many balls he lost and how many he found. He would jokingly say he was two under because he had found two more than he lost. I avoid him as much as possible on the course because he will spend more time searching than playing and I hate having to continually remind him that there are others behind us.

    Liked by 1 person

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