You must correct hitting a wrong ball, even though it will cost you

(Rule 6.3c)

You hit your drive into the rough off the tee, walk to where you think your ball is and hit your second shot short of the green.  You chip your ball up on the green with your hird but when you mark it you realize it is not your ball.  Now what? In match play, the hole is over because the penalty for playing the wrong ball is loss of hole.  In stroke play, the proper way to proceed is to correct your mistake. That means that you need to go back and play your original ball.  Hopefully, you will be able to find it, and if you do, you add two strokes as the penalty for playing the wrong ball, but you do not count any of the strokes you hit with the wrong ball.  You are hitting 4 and you play on.

If you cannot find your original ball within three minutes of searching, it is then determined to be lost. Unfortunately, now you must take the stoke-and-distance penalty for this and return to the tee.  Once there, you add the two strokes for playing the wrong ball, and now you are hitting 5.

In stroke play, if you do not correct the mistake before making a stroke to begin another hole or, for the final hole of the round, before returning your scorecard, you are disqualified.


 Match play is a postable round according to the USGA Rules of Handicapping. Rule 3.3 address what a player should do when they start a hole but does not hole out as in Match Play when the result of the hole has already been decided.  The player must record their most likely score or net double bogey, whichever is lower.


The most likely score is:

  • The number of strokes already taken to reach a position on a hole, plus
  • The number of strokes the player would most likely require to complete the hole from that position, plus
  • Any penalty stokes incurred during play of the hole.

Most likely scores should be determined on any hole in accordance with the following guidelines:


Position of the Ball Strokes to be Added
If the ball lies on the putting green, and is no more than 5 feet from the hole: Add one additional stroke
If the ball lies between 5 feet and 20 yards from the hole: Add 2 or 3 additional stokes, depending on the position of the ball, the difficulty of the green and the ability of the player
If the ball lies more than 20 yards from the hole: Add 3 0r 4 strokes, depending on the position of the ball, the difficulty of the green and the ability of the player

Match Play:  How to score a hole you do not complete.