By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Missed swing counts as stroke
Graham Lewis - photo by Photo provided.

Golf is fun, whether playing solo or with others. Having a basic understanding of the game’s rules makes it easier to enjoy the experience and improve your skills. In this periodic column, I provide brief explanations of golf rules and answer commonly asked questions.

Question: Mike and John are playing in a tournament. On the third hole, Mike finds his tee shot 220 yards from the hole. On the left side of the fairway are out of bounds markers. Mike swings at his ball and misses it completely. In reflex, he swings backwards and knocks his ball out of bounds. John says that Mike missed the ball and that counts as a stroke. He also says the out-of-bounds position adds a penalty. Is he correct?

Answer: John is correct in stating that Mike has to count the missed stroke. However, added to that is a penalty for moving his ball (at rest) with backward movement because it was not a stroke. A stroke is a forward movement of the club with the intention of hitting the ball. The ball must be replaced from the out-of-bounds position. John is correct about the additional penalty, but for the wrong reason. The ball being out of bounds has no relevance.

Tip of the week: Be ready to play when it is your turn. Carts are great, but we often don’t need to sit in them and watch others hit when we can be getting ready to hit our shot.

As always, have fun playing and practicing the game of golf.

Lewis is a certified teaching professional at Sapelo Hammock Golf Course and a member of the United States Golf Teachers Federation. E-mail him at

Sign up for our e-newsletters