Friday, May 8, 2015

Ask Linda #1057-Practice swing after addressing the ball

In our weekend group of players we have a couple of guys that like to "Address the Ball" and then take a practice swing inside the ball promoting an inside-out swing path.

I know that once they have "Addressed the Ball" if they were to accidentally hit the ball there would be penalties incurred; but can they make a practice swing after addressing the ball without un-addressing the ball first?

And on a similar note, can you make practice swings over the top of your ball before or after "Addressing the Ball"?

Lou from Collierville, Tennessee

P.S. I read and enjoy all of your letters, thank you so much for helping on the rules of golf.

Dear Lou,

A player has not made a stroke at his ball unless he swings with the intention of hitting it [Definition of “Stroke”]. So technically, everything you describe would be a practice swing; nothing you describe would constitute a “stroke.”

However, everything you describe is setting off alarm bells in my head. If a player takes a practice swing in what amounts to the same area where he will make his stroke, he runs a serious risk of incurring a penalty. For example, he might break a branch or knock down a leaf, either of which might improve the area of his intended swing; or he might move his ball in play (one-stroke penalty and replace the ball). And then there’s the problem of trying to convince his companions that the swing that missed the ball was not a whiff (which would count as a stroke).

Practice strokes near the ball are never advisable. Why risk a penalty when you can safely swing the club a short distance to the side?


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