Local rule for out of bounds, lost ball
If a player hits a ball out of bounds or loses a ball, the general rules still require the player to return to the spot of the previous stroke and take a one-stroke penalty – a standard stroke-and-distance scenario. For example, if a player sends a tee ball past the white stakes and out of bounds, he must play another ball from the tee, which becomes the third shot after the penalty. It’s the same scenario for a lost ball.
But the ruling bodies have added the option of a local rule that provides time-saving relief in such a scenario. Instead of the player returning to the spot of the previous shot in the event of a lost ball or a ball out of bounds, the player can take a drop in the nearest spot of the fairway (within two club-lengths of the edge of the fairway), no nearer the hole than where the ball crossed the OB line, with a two-stroke penalty.
The same local rule applies to a lost ball, with the player able to drop in the fairway across from where the previous ball is estimated to have come to rest.
This is only a local rule, and the course’s rules committee must deem its use. This rule is not intended for high-level competitions, where the standard stroke-and-distance penalties will be in play. Consider it a gift to typical amateurs that will speed up play but not force somebody to march 200 yards or more back to a teeing area after learning that a ball is out of bounds.
Keep in mind, it’s a two-stroke penalty under the local rule. If a player sends a tee shot out of bounds and proceeds under this local rule, they will play their fourth shot after dropping near the edge of the fairway (many amateurs casually throw down a ball and say they are playing their third from the new location, ignoring rules about stroke and distance). This is equitable to a player taking a stroke-and-distance penalty, then finding the fairway with the third shot from the tee. The next shot from the fairway would be the fourth.