A Stroke or Not
Many situations arise on the course as to whether you made a stroke or not. The USGA defines a stroke as “the forward movement of the club made with the intention of striking at and moving the ball, but if a player checks his downswing voluntarily before the clubhead reaches the ball he has not made a stroke.”
This means you do not actually have to touch the ball for it to count as a stroke. Under this definition a “whiff” would count as a stroke. This also means that in the process of your downswing you can “abort” the swing by intentionally missing the ball. It will not count as a stroke because you did not intend to strike the ball nor did you strike the ball.
The next time you count up your score make sure to count those “whiffs”.
The “practice swing” is another area where there is a lot of confusion as to whether it counts as a “stroke” or not.
First, you need to know what it means to “put a ball in play”. A ball is not in play when it is originally placed on the tee in the teeing ground. A ball is in play once you do a forward swing with intention of striking the ball. Whether you hit the ball or not doesn’t matter. Second, you need to know what a stroke is. As earlier explained, a stroke is the forward movement of the club with intention of hitting the ball.
A practice swing that “accidently” hits the ball on the teeing ground, that is not yet in play, does not count as a stroke. This is because there was no intention. However, a practice swing that “accidently” hits the ball while in the fairway incurs a penalty of one stroke and the ball must be replaced. The actual stroke is not counted.
Therefore, it is important to know if you made a stroke or not. This will certainly save you some strokes or be able to inforn your opponents.