Golf Australia

Time reduced for ball search

Time for Search Before a Ball is Lost

2019 Rule: Under Rule 18.2, the time for a ball search (before the ball becomes lost) will 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.













Posted by Mark Bawden at
20/10/2018 11:46 AM
Lester BLACK, might I suggest that you adopt the philosophy of "play a provisional whenever there is doubt" as it speeds up play enormously, rather than change the rules.
Posted by Lester BLACK at
27/08/2018 01:59 PM
I should clarify my comment of the 14/08/2018 That if a Dropped Ball is allowed for a LOST BALL the penalty to which I refer, would be 2 Shots.
Posted by Adrian van Selm at
26/08/2018 03:48 PM
I understand that a new rule regarding a lost ball will come into effect in January. A penalty of 2 shots will be allowed if you drop a ball in the approximate area where you believe the ball was lost. As to your comment re a penalty of 1 shot only a provisional ball played incurs stroke and distance which is the equivalent of a 2 shot penalty
Posted by Lester BLACK at
14/08/2018 04:02 PM
Firstly I would like to congratulate the rules committee for the published changes which go a long way in eliminating penalties for things that happen in a round of golf that do not impact on the results. But there are issues that I think should also be addressed, including the lost ball. Let me begin by drawing the comparison when a ball is 'Lost' in a water hazard a drop is taken with an appropriate penalty. Why could not the same apply when a ball is hit to 'out of bounds' without going back and replaying from the last position. It then follows that if a ball is lost anywhere on the course after searching for 3 minutes, could a ball be dropped in the vicinity of where the ball was believed to have been lost, but in a playable position (that is not under a shrubby bush) and the penalty applied. This would clearly speed up play and be equitable. Certainly in Club golf the practice of playing a provisional ball is commonly not followed, therefore too often play is delayed under the present rules of having to go back and play the shot again. The suggestion of playing a provisional ball to cover the potential lost ball is also defeated in many areas when birds such as Crows, sight unseen, remove golf balls, that are then deemed lost. Can my suggestions be considered as a Rule change or as local rules? Regards Lester BLACK Member No 151 Cowra Golf Club, NSW Golflink 2090400151
Posted by Don at
03/08/2018 10:39 PM
Playing a smaller group eg 2 ball and the rest in threes. A huge disadvantage, particularly if your partner isnt that interested.

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