Having read numerous articles on golf in SI by Dan Jenkins, I was surprised by his analysis of Dale Hayes' violation of "a well-known rule of golf" in the British Open ( Gary Player's Expo, July 22).
Dan is incorrect when he says that once you drop a provisional, that is the ball you play. A provisional is exactly what the word implies. In case "a ball may be lost outside a water hazard or may be out of bounds, to save time the player may at once play another ball provisionally as nearly as possible from the spot at which the original ball was played." This ball must be declared a provisional, and it must be played before going forward to look for the original ball. The provisional may be played until the golfer reaches the spot where the original is likely to be. If the provisional is played beyond that point, the original ball is deemed lost.
Thus, Hayes did not play or attempt to play a provisional ball. He had either abandoned his ball as lost or the allotted five-minute search time had expired, in which case he was obliged to return to the previous point and put another ball into play.
EDWARD J. RIDLER