Sunday, August 3, 2008

When is a Swing a Stroke?

We know that if we take a swing at the ball with intention to hit it, and then miss it entirely, we are charged with a stroke. So when is a swing not a stoke?

Definition: A stroke is the forward movement of the club with the intention of striking at and moving the ball.

With this definition in mind, consider two situations:

  • A player's ball lies in tall grass. The player starts her downswing and the club is deflected by the grass and the ball is untouched by the club during the swing.

  • A player is distracted by some outside force and takes an abnormal complete swing at the ball. Tiger Woods, as seen on television (due to some distraction)has been able to stop the downward motion of his swing on the teeing ground prior to contact with the ball.

In the first situation, the players has full intention to strike the ball and move it. The fact that the grass deflected the club does not matter. The stroke is counted. Another point to remember; if a stroke is made on the teeing ground, the player may not adjust the tee or ball as the ball is in play after a stroke.

In the second situation, the player has recognized that she is not prepared to strike at the ball; the swing is unintentional. Therefore, the second condition of the definition has not been satisfied. There is no stroke. However, if there is any doubt that intention ceased during the downswing, the decision is resolved against the player.

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