Does a golfer count a stroke if they swing and miss at the golf ball?
Golf Culture

Does a golfer count a stroke if they whiff at the golf ball?

Sometimes, golfers face really difficult shots on the course. They could be up against a fence, or on the edge of the water or sand. They could have a really fluffy lie where their ball almost seems teed up by the grass.

Attempting those shots sometimes can be a little embarrassing because sometimes golfers swing and miss at the golf ball. They whiff.

If you want to be a rules hawk, or you're playing in a competition, then you need to know what the Rules of Golf say about whiffing on a golf shot.

What counts as a stroke in golf?

Under the Rules of Golf, any stroke in which you intend to hit the ball counts. It doesn't matter how far the ball goes. If you swing and miss, and you were trying to hit the ball, then it counts. If you take another swing at it, then you're counting your next stroke after the whiff. There are no do-overs or re-dos when you whiff, so long as you're trying to hit it.

However, under the Rules of Golf, you can intentionally miss the ball as part of a practice swing. Kevin Na famously did that for a while on the PGA Tour, drawing criticism since intent is subject to interpretation. But if you meant to swing at the ball, then your whiff counts.

Of course, you may have played with someone who has whiffed on a shot and said, "That was a practice stroke!" In fact, that's a running joke I have with friends who hit crappy shots that might only go a foot or two. But, if all the strokes count in your golf game, then even the strokes where the ball doesn't go anywhere count.

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