Thursday, May 4, 2017

Ask Linda #1523-Discontinue swing after hitting tree in backswing

Golfer takes a swing and hits trees in her back swing. She did not break any branches, but I think some leaves came down. She stops her swing, adjusts her alignment and takes another swing and hits the ball. Is it a penalty for hitting the trees in her backswing? She was not in a hazard.
Lulu from Sarasota, Florida

Dear Lulu,

There is no penalty for hitting a tree in your backswing and discontinuing your swing unless you improve the area of your intended swing. If the player had broken a branch, she would have incurred a two-stroke penalty [Decision 13-2/14.5].

The leaves are a little trickier. If she knocked down a few leaves, but there were more leaves remaining that would still pose a distraction, there would be no penalty. However, if the leaves that came down were the only leaves in her way, she would incur a two-stroke penalty for improving the area of her intended swing [Decision 13-2/0.5].

The backswing is not part of the stroke A player has not made a stroke until she swings the club forward with the intention to hit the ball. If a player voluntarily stops her swing before the clubhead reaches the ball, she has not made a stroke [Definition of “Stroke”].  

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