Suppose I hit a drive in the middle of the fairway, and my playing partner hits a drive considerably shorter into elements (forest, brush, etc.) in which finding and identifying the playing partner's ball is less than likely.

Some players help other players search for their ball after an errant tee shot. On the other hand, some players choose to stand over their ball and "wait it out" or take their shot in the interest of time (although the playing partner, who is further away from the hole, has not played their shot yet). One may view this as rude and unsportsmanlike, but another may view this as saving face in the presence of competition.

Golf is a sport where accountability falls onto the golfer's shoulders. If s/he commits a violation, it is honorable to let an official know that a violation has been committed. On that note, what is the proper etiquette when a playing partner is searching for his/her golf ball?

2 Answers 2


Your group has five minutes to find the ball. If the ball is not found, the player has to declare it lost and go back to the starting point to shoot another stroke (after assessing a one stroke penalty). So, it is more feasible to try to find the lost ball as fast as you can. Since your group has to pass around your ball once your partner hit his second shot, there is no point in not helping him.

Also he can play a provisional strok before going to try and find the original ball to speed up play.

I see all the things you said on a golf course. Sometimes, we search for the ball. Sometimes, we only left one of us to search for it. I even finished a hole while a partner was still in a bunker struggling to get to the green (The ball was just a foot away from the hole. Therefore, there was no point in marking it). The main point is that you take your pace on the course and not put the groups behind you on stall for a long time.

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    Help one another out. That's what my playing partners and I usually do. Thanks.
    – user527
    Jan 16, 2013 at 18:13

I think it depends on whether the local rules stipulate that players should play "Ready Golf". This is common at public and semi-private courses and basically states that all players through the green should split up to their lies and take their shots in their time, rather than travelling in a group from lie to lie.

If a ball is thought to be lost, the player should always play a provisional ball from the previous spot. If it's the tee shot that got away, everyone else should tee off, then if Ready Golf rules are in effect, the group should split up and head to their lies; any that are close to where the player lost their ball should play their next shot and then help look. If Ready Golf is not in effect, all players should help that player look for his ball on his turn (the turn order based on distance, and thus on where the lost ball is thought to have landed).

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