# You’re searching for two balls – how much time do you have?

Is it three minutes for each, or three minutes in total? Our guru looks at the search time when looking for two balls

An oldie but a goldie – and something that had a little update when the Rules of Golf were revamped at the start of 2023.

Here’s the scenario. You’ve hit two balls – one off the tee and a provisional – and now you are looking for both. How much time do you get?

Is it a three minute search time for both, or three minutes each?

## Golf ball search time: How long can you have when searching for two golf balls?

All is revealed in a clarification to the definition of Lost.

If you’ve hit both balls into the same area “where they can be searched for at the same time” then you can only have three minutes to search for both balls.

If it’s likely the two balls are far enough apart so that you can’t search for them both at the same time then you get a three-minute search for each.

Here is the new bit in the 2023 clarification. Even if the two balls are in the same area, there are some other factors that might give you a three-minute search for each.

It gives two examples, which many of you might recognise. The first is when your original ball goes into bushes and the “provisional is in rough nearby, but is clearly not in the bushes”.

The second is when a ball bounces on the fairway and you know it has just reached the rough, while the provisional is much further in.

### Got a question for our expert?

Despite the changes to the Rules of Golf in 2019 and 2023, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. I’ll try to help by featuring the best of your queries in this column.

What do you think about this golf ball search time rule? Is it fair? Let me know with a tweet.

## Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

Rules of Golf

Rules of Golf

Rules of Golf

Rules of Golf

Rules of Golf

Rules of Golf

Rules of Golf