Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Ask Linda #1738-Practice swing contacts ball

Hi Linda,
During a round this weekend with friends, one of the players hit an approach shot into the woods. He came and retrieved his ball and placed it back down from his original hitting location and proceeded to hit it in the woods again, but this time at least it was playable. At the time of his first strike of the ball it was his 4th shot on the hole. His second attempt in my eyes would have been his 6th shot (his 5th was his placement from the woods). He than chunked his next shot, than chipped on and 2 putted for what I would have counted as a 10. He scored himself a 7. After questioning him on his score, he proceeded to tell me that there was no penalty on his first ball in the woods because he was taking a practice swing and accidently hit the ball forward with NO intention to hit the ball. He said this was in the Rules. I have never seen this before in all my playing days, and was under the assumption that as long as the ball is advanced with the club it is considered a stroke. Could you be so kind to clear this up for me? There were no harsh words between us or arguments, just questioning his call, if you were wondering. And no one in our group seemed to know the rule exactly to give anyone advice.
Faithful fan  
Lou from Cleveland, Ohio

Dear Lou,

In order for a swing to be considered a stroke, the player must intend to hit the ball [Definition of “Stroke”]. If he accidentally moves the ball with a practice swing, this is not a stroke. Since this happened after the ball was in play (as opposed to on the teeing ground), the player is penalized one stroke for moving his ball in play [Rule 18-2]. He must replace the ball.

The player scored a nine on the hole. His accidental movement of the ball did not count as a stroke, but he did incur a penalty stroke, so his ball lay four when he replaced it. Add the second shot into the woods, the chunk, the chip, and the two putts for a total of nine.

The answer changes if the player tees up his ball on the teeing ground and then accidentally moves it with a practice swing. In this case, the player does not incur a penalty. There is no penalty for accidentally moving a ball that is not in play. The ball is not in play until a stroke has been made from the teeing ground [Definition of “Ball in Play”].

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