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Rules of the game of golf
Strokes must be intended hits
Graham Lewis - photo by Photo provided.

Question: Art and Danny are playing in their men’s association tournament. On the 5th hole, Danny takes a practice swing from just off the green and accidentally hits his ball, causing it to move several feet and onto the putting surface.

Danny then takes his putter and prepares to hit his next shot. Before he putts, Art tells him that he must replace his ball where it was and add a penalty stroke for moving his ball when it was in play.

Is Art correct or can Danny play his ball from the putting surface and count the accidental hit as a stroke?

Answer: Art is correct. Danny had no intention of moving his ball under the definition of a "stroke." However, he incurs a penalty stroke under Rule 18-2a for moving his ball when it was in play, and the ball must be replaced.

Definition of a stroke: A stroke is the forward movement of the club made with the intention of striking at and moving the ball, but if the player checks his downswing voluntarily before the clubhead reaches the ball, he has not made a stroke.

As always, make it your goal to have fun when playing and practicing the game. Call and check on the schedule for junior golf clinics this summer (832-GOLF). If you have questions, ideas, or suggestions, e-mail me at


A United States Golf Teachers Federation certified teaching professional, Lewis is at Sapelo Hammock.

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