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Question on Rules of Golf:

What is a provisional shot and when should I use one?

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According to The Rules of Golf, a provisional ball is "a ball that may be lost outside a water hazard or may be out of bounds". So it is under these two circumstances that you should hit a provisional ball.

Always put a different mark on your ball or pick a different numbered ball so that you and your playing partners can identify it. Make sure to inform your playing partners that you are designating that ball as the provisional.

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