Most of us have probably made a stroke at a ball intending to hit it… and missed. At least I have.
It is probably more rarely seen among the professional players, but a few weeks ago it happened to Beatriz Recari in The Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.
You can see it here:
It looks quite odd. Apparently her right food slips (see at the end of the video in slow motion) and therefore she does not strike the ball.
The definition of a stroke states this:
“A ‘stroke’ is 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.”
Since she had an intention to strike and move the ball, it counted as a stroke. Unfortunately there is not an exception in the Rules of Golf stating that it is not a stroke, if you slip during the downswing. As you can see if the player checks the downswing voluntarily before the clubhead reaches the ball, it is not a stroke (see also Decision 14/1.5 at the end of this blog). But it certainly does not look as though that she checked her downswing voluntarily, i.e. she did not purposely miss the ball. She missed it because she slipped.
Therefore: It was a stroke, and she had to (again) make a stroke (from the same place) only that this time it was stroke number two!
Something similar happened to Phil Mickelson in Masters earlier this year, although under quite different circumstances:
Masters 2018: Phil Mickelson | 1st Hole, Round 3 pic.twitter.com/RVYmBFFMjW
— Masters Highlights (@MastersMoments) April 7, 2018
So next time you whiff, remember that it even happens to professional players now and then!
PS: If you want to know more about this subject, I recommend that you read Decision 14/1.5:
A player begins his downswing with the intention of striking the ball but decides during the downswing not to strike the ball. The player is unable to stop the club before it reaches the ball, but he is able to swing intentionally over the top of the ball. Is the player deemed to have made a stroke?
No. The player is considered to have checked his downswing voluntarily by altering the path of his downswing and missing the ball even though the swing carried the clubhead beyond the ball.
If the player had not successfully checked his downswing (i.e. he had struck the ball), he is considered to have made a stroke.
Any doubt regarding the player’s intent must be resolved against the player.