Q: A player believed his original ball had come to rest in a water hazard. He searched for about a minute but did not find his ball. He therefore dropped another ball behind the hazard under Rule 26-1 and played it. He then found his original ball outside the hazard within five minutes of having begun to search for it. What is the ruling?
A: When the player dropped and played another ball behind the hazard, it became the ball in play and the original ball was lost.
If it was known or virtually certain that the original ball was in the water hazard, the player was entitled to invoke Rule 26-1. In the absence of knowledge or virtual certainty that the original ball was in the water hazard, the player was required to put another ball into play under Rule 27-1. In playing the ball dropped under Rule 26-1, the player played from a wrong place.
In match play, he incurred a penalty of loss of hole (Rule 20-7b).
In stroke play, he incurred the stroke-and-distance penalty prescribed by Rule 27-1 and an additional penalty of two strokes for a breach of that Rule (Rule 20-7c). If the breach was a serious one, he was subject to disqualification unless he corrected the error as provided in Rule 20-7c.