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Lost Ball - Definition from the Rules of Golf

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Definition: Definitions from the Official Rules of Golf appear courtesy of the USGA.

Lost Ball: A ball is deemed "lost" if:

  • a. It is not found or identified as his by the player within five minutes after the player’s side or his or their caddies have begun to search for it; or

  • b. The player has made a stroke at a provisional ball from the place where the original ball is likely to be or from a point nearer the hole than that place (see Rule 27-2b); or

  • c. The player has put another ball into play under penalty of stroke and distance (see Rule 27-1a); or

  • d. The player has put another ball into play because it is known or virtually certain that the ball, which has not been found, has been moved by an outside agency (see Rule 18-1), is in an obstruction (see Rule 24-3), is in an abnormal ground condition (see Rule 25-1c) or is in a water hazard (see Rule 26-1b or c); or

  • e. The player has made a stroke at a substituted ball.

    Time spent in playing a wrong ball is not counted in the five-minute period allowed for search.

©USGA, used with permission
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