What to Do (and Don’t Do) When Your Ball Goes in the Water
If you hit a ball that could be either in the water or playable outside the penalty area, the rules do not allow a provisional ball to be played from the tee or a second ball from the drop zone and then go to check on the status of the original ball and playing the first ball (and picking up the second ball) if that first ball happens to be “up.”
Check to determine the status of the first ball before deciding which option to take if the ball is, indeed, in the penalty area or proceeding with the first ball if it is playable. Ask players in your group to help you double check where your ball ended up. If the ball is in the penalty area the options are:
- Hit again from the previous spot,
- Use the drop zone,
- Drop the ball anywhere on the flagstick line.
Each option operates under penalty of one stroke. Rule 18.3 When a Provisional Ball is Allowed states:
If your ball might be lost outside a penalty area or be out of bounds, to
save time you may play another ball provisionally under penalty of
stroke and distance.
BUT… if you are aware that the only possible place your original ball could be lost is in a penalty area, a provisional ball is not allowed and a ball played from where the previous stroke was made becomes your ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance.