Rules Guy: If you forget where you found your ball, do you get more time to find it again?

Golfers looking for balls

What do you do if you misplace you ball after you've already found it once?

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The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

You find your ball in long rough within three minutes. You walk to your bag, select a club… but then you can’t find your ball when you return to play your shot. Do you have another three minutes to search, or do you have to include the time already spent looking?
—Paul Murray, Sydney, Australia

Paul, this is yet another reason, on top of sun safety, for golfers to wear a hat — it’s something to place next to one’s ball when it nestles down in Gnarlytown. Thumbing through my worn copy of Decisions of the Rules of Golf (full disclosure: it’s online nowadays), Rules Guy came across Interpretation 18.2(a)1/1, covering this exact question. (File under: “There’s nothing new under the sun.”)

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In essence, you get three minutes per stroke made, not per search, meaning that if it took you two minutes to find your ball before losing it again, you have only 60 seconds left to rediscover it.

Fail to do so before the clock expires and your ball is now considered lost, and you have to return to the spot of your previous shot, add one penalty stroke and play on … no doubt feeling a bit lost yourself.

Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to rulesguy@golf.com. We promise he won’t throw the book at you.

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