What are the odds that the golf ball manufacturers were in on this? 🙂 In my experience as a referee, many players are inclined to give up before my stopwatch hits five minutes, the 2018 limit.

2019 Rule: Under Rule 18.2, the time for a ball search (before the ball becomes lost) will be reduced from five (5) minutes to three (3) minutes.

Reasons for Change

  • Limiting the search period to three 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 three 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 three minutes should encourage players to play a provisional ball when they believe there is a chance their ball may not be found.