On the opening day of the 2016 US Open at Oakmont, Bryson DeChambeau, drove his ball towards the boundary to the right of the fairway. He was understandably displeased when he saw his ball bouncing off a cart path and disappearing into a dense area of bushes and trees.
Assuming that his ball may either be lost or out of bounds, he correctly announced that he was going to play a provisional ball and this time he pulled his drive into deep rough to the left of the fairway. His original ball was found in bounds, but in a position that DeChambeau deemed unplayable. This where many golfers may wrongly assume that the provisional ball could be played, lying 3, but this is not the case. This part of Rule 27-2c is relevant; If the original ball is neither lost nor out of bounds, the player must abandon the provisional ball and continue playing the original ball. If the player makes any further strokes at the provisional ball, he is playing a wrong ball and the provisions of Rule 15-3 apply. Having deemed his original ball unplayable, DeChambeau knew that he could not continue play with his provisional ball. His three options under penalty of one stroke, were;
A. Proceed under the stroke and distance provision of Rule 27-1 by playing a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5); or
B. Drop a ball behind the point where the ball lay, keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind that point the ball may be dropped; or
C. Drop a ball within two club-lengths of the spot where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole. DeChambeau’s ball was at rest deep in the trees and an extension of the line from the hole to where it lay would also have meant dropping in thick brush, so his only real option was to return to the teeing ground. DeChambeau’s next shot from the tee was into the middle of the fairway. This was his third stroke on the hole. The stroke made with the provisional ball does not count. He ultimately salvaged a double bogey to complete his round with a 1-over. Congratulations to Bryson for getting the ruling right. In this incident the only error the Pro made was to drive his ball into the bushes!