Is missing the ball in anger a “Stroke”?


Please can you help out with this question that Bob has posed – We would very much appreciate your thoughts and citations in the discussion below.

A player in a stroke play competition leaves a putt short and on the lip of the hole. In disgust they attempt to knock the ball away with their putter, but they completely miss the ball.

  1. Have they made a stroke?
  2. Does it make any difference if they made the attempt “backhanded” with the back of their putter?

For ease of reference, here is the current definition of a stroke.

The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.

But a stroke has not been made if the player:
– Decides during the downswing not to strike the ball and avoids doing so by deliberately stopping the clubhead before it reaches the ball or, if unable to stop, by deliberately missing the ball.
– Accidentally strikes the ball when making a practice swing or while preparing to make a stroke.

Thank you

7 thoughts on “Is missing the ball in anger a “Stroke”?

  1. In my opinion they have made a stroke and it doesn’t matter that the stroke may have been made backhanded. Happy to elaborate if no one else does

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Stuart, The key question is, did the player intend to hit the ball? From the way the question has been framed it has been established that they did. In which case the stroke counts. Front or back of club, or backhanded makes no difference. Defn. Of Stroke and 10.1a.

    If the player disputed their intention of hitting their ball it becomes more interesting. We would need to know and hear more.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks Don & Matt. I agree with your interpretations, there is nothing in the definition of a stroke that excludes a deliberate attempt to hit the ball in anger (or for any other emotional reason).

    The background to the question came from the old decisions book (2016/17 – which of course is no longer relevant) where decision 18-2/23 specifically said that “the competitor is not considered to have made a stroke” and “the competitor must replace the ball” in the event it is knocked away “in disgust”.

    If the ball was hit, I now think that the player could play the ball where it now lies (an option not available before 2019), or proceed under stroke and distance (so replace on the edge of the hole and add 1 penalty stroke – same outcome as 2016/17)


    1. If old Decision 18-2/23 had carried forwards into 2019 I would have expected to see it as an interpretation for Rule 9.4, but there is no equivalent that I can find. Just to pick up on Stuart’s comment, I don’t think Stroke and Distance is the same outcome as 2016/17. In 2016/17 the “stroke” that moved the ball in anger was not counted. In stroke and distance, it is.


  4. Hi, I agree with previous comments (Don, Matt, John)
    Stuart, I agree the player could take Stroke & Distance, or Unplayable Ball (Stroke & Distance)
    I am sure you remember we were told on ours TARS course to ditch the old books ! 🤔😀


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