On the 9th hole, a long par 5, a player in our group hit his 3rd shot over the green. The green has 4 bunkers, 2 located behind the green. The player saw his ball fly towards the back bunker and assumed it landed in the bunker.
Upon arriving at the bunker, the player did not see his ball and believed it had plugged in the soft sand. After a 5 minute search (time allotted to search for lost ball), the ball could not be found. The player then dropped a ball in the bunker and played his next shot from there.
After holing out with 2 putts, another competitor found the player’s original ball behind the bunker. Should the player go back and play from the original position of his 3rd shot? Or should the player play the original ball found behind the bunker? What is the ruling in this situation?
Once the player dropped a ball in the bunker, it became the ball in play. The real problem the player faces is he played from the wrong place. Since the original ball was not found within the 5 minutes allotted, the player should have returned to the position of the original stroke incurring a stroke and distance penalty (penalty for lost ball).
The player does incur the penalty for lost ball, stroke and distance, but by not returning to the original position, the player incurs another 2 stroke penalty for playing from the wrong place. So including his 2 putts, the player scored a 9.
BUT…since the player received a tremendous advantage by dropping in the bunker, this is a serious breach of the rules. The player needs to correct his error and return to the original position of his 3rd stroke and replay from there (stroke and distance). He still incurs the additional penalty of playing from a wrong place, 2 strokes. If the player does not correct his error and tees off on the 10th hole, he is disqualified.
Oh, the competitor should just give the original ball back to the player and wait for the error to be corrected.
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