I received a question this week asking whether the shaft or grip of a club can be used to make a stroke. I cannot imagine the circumstance that led to this question being asked, but it has prompted me to list a few points relating to making a stroke at a ball.
• The ball must be fairly struck with the head of the club. Rule 14-1a.
• The head of the club includes the face, back and sides of the club (so, obviously not any part of the shaft or the grip). Note that the clubhead must have only one striking face, except that a putter may have two faces if their characteristics are the same and they are opposite each other. Appendix ll, 1 / 4 / d.
• The ball must not be pushed, scraped or spooned. See this blog for an example of what is not permitted in this respect. Rule 14-1a.
• In making a stroke, the player must not anchor the club, either "directly" or by use of an "anchor point." See this blog for more information on this subject. Rule 14-1b.
• A stroke is the forward movement of the club made with the intention of striking at and moving the ball. So if a player checks their downswing voluntarily before the clubhead reaches the ball, they have not made a stroke. Definition of Stroke.
• A player must not make a stroke while accepting physical assistance (e.g. having an umbrella held over them), or protection from the elements (e.g. aligning their bag to shelter their ball from the wind. Rule 14-2a.
• A player must not use any artificial device or unusual equipment, or use any equipment in an unusual manner that might assist them in making a stroke. Rule 14-3. Note that this includes listening to music or a broadcast, Decision 14-3/17.
• A player must not make a stroke at his ball while it is moving. Rule 14-5. There are 3 exceptions; a) Ball falling off tee, Rule 11-3; b) Striking the ball more than once, Rule 14-4; c) Ball moving in water, Rule 14-6. A player may make a stroke at a ball that oscillates providing it does not move off its spot.
• A player may make a stroke one-handed, e.g. holding the flagstick in the other hand when making a short putt, Decision 17-1/5. (See photo above).
• A player is not necessarily entitled to see their ball when making a stroke. Rule 12-1.
• A player is not penalised for improving their lie or line of play if it occurs while making a stroke, or the backward movement of their club for a stroke, e.g. breaking or moving grasses growing behind their ball when making a stroke from a hazard. Rules 13-2 and 13-4. (Edit 10th February 2017: However, they may not touch the ground in the hazard, water in the water hazard, or move a loose impediment in the hazard with their backswing, Rule 13-4.)
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