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This article was written by Steve Carroll from our partner National Club Golfer.

This is the situation. It’s a par 3 where you can’t see much of the flag and there’s trouble in all directions. You hit a tee shot but don’t see where it lands.

Worried about its location, you announce and play a provisional. You get to the green, spend three minutes looking for the first ball but can’t find it.

Disappointed, you move on and play the provisional, which is on the green, and you now believe to be the ball in play under penalty of stroke-and-distance.

Holing out after two putts, you get to the cup only to see your original ball also nestled at the bottom.

So what now? Is it a hole-in-one, or a double bogey? In both cases, the players who contacted me opted to write the latter on their scorecard. But were they right?

Rules of Golf explained: Our expert says…

This one sounds complicated but the answer is revealed right at the front of the rule book. In Rule 1.1, no less.

In fact, it’s clear if you just stop for a second and think about what the game is really all about – what its purpose is.

Let’s give you the R&A and USGA definition. “Each hole starts with a stroke from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green.”

Got it? That’s right. As soon as your original ball went in the hole, it was over. Everything else, the provisional, the searching, the putts, didn’t count. The hole was completed the moment the ball was at rest in the hole after your stroke.

So get your wallet out, you’re buying everyone a drink. You’ve hit the perfect shot.