Most of the new rules changes that went into effect in January 2019 were geared towards speeding up the pace of play, and this is certainly one of them.
According to the USGA, the time allowed to be spent looking for a potentially lost ball was taken down from five to three.
Reasons for Change
- Limiting the search period to 3 minutes is more consistent with the underlying principle that golf is to be played in a prompt and continuous way, without long pauses in play.
- In most cases, if the ball is going to be found, it will be found within the first 3 minutes.
- Although this change may increase the number of lost balls, on average the overall impact should be to speed up play.
- Knowing that the search time is limited to 3 minutes should encourage players to play a provisional ball when they believe there is a chance their ball may not be found.