Wednesday, March 29, 2017
I have been following your very informative answers to rules questions for a few years and really do enjoy and appreciate them.
I play in our men's club weekly, and have noticed more than once the following situation: A player has missed a putt that stops just a few inches from the hole, walks up nonchalantly and taps the putt into the hole. However, sometimes the putter will hit the ground short of the ball, and the putter is stopped. Now the player quickly continues the stroke into the hole. I believe that is two strokes. Am I correct?
Thank you for all you do for us golfers who want to know and play by the rules.
Lou from Sun City West, Arizona
It’s difficult to answer your question without actually observing the event. However, I will give you an answer based on what I suspect is happening. The player attempts to putt the ball; the putter hits the ground and stops just behind the ball; the player subsequently pushes the ball into the hole.
When the player attempts to hit the ball, and the putter stops short of the ball, it counts as a stroke. Think of this attempt to hit the ball as a whiff. When he moves the putter the second time, either pushing or scraping the ball into the hole, he has breached Rule 14-1a. This Rule prohibits pushing or scraping the ball. In match play, he loses the hole. In stroke play, count the original stroke (the whiff), the push/scrape stroke, plus a two-stroke penalty.
If the player’s second attempt to hit the ball is an actual stroke, and not a push, such that the club starts out behind the ball and contacts the ball momentarily, there is no penalty. In this case you would count the two strokes (the whiff and the second stroke).
The Rules are not very tolerant of careless play.
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