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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 10, 2006

Wie now knows when a stroke is really a stroke

 •  Wie learns a lot during busy summer 'School'

By Greg Nichols
Special to the Advertiser

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The Advertiser, with help from Ko Olina director of golf Greg Nichols, is offering this feature on the rules of golf. If you have a question regarding the rules of golf e-mail cmurayama@honoluluadvertiser.com. Nichols recommends readers go to Play GolfAmerica.com for information on golf programs in their area. For additional rules information, ask your local Aloha Section PGA professional or go online to www.USGA.org.

A stroke is not a stroke when it is your backstroke and not your forward stroke.

As I have said before, to really understand, appreciate and correctly interpret the Rules of Golf, it is critical that a player studies and learns the definitions in the beginning of the Rules Book.

The definition of 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 club head reaches the ball he has not made a stroke."

The key words are "forward movement" of the club and "intention of striking and moving the ball."

In the latest Women's British Open, Michelle Wie was penalized for brushing moss (considered a loose impediment) in the bunker during her backstroke.

Rule 13-4, Ball Played As It Lies, addresses this situation in stating a player, before making a stroke at a ball that is in a bunker, must not touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the bunker.

Wie mistakenly thought she was in the process of making her stroke when in reality she was making her backstroke. Semantics perhaps, but according to the Rules of Golf, the language lesson cost her two strokes.

Luckily, Wie has a great golfing temperament. Rather than get upset over the penalty, she simply chalked up the whole experience to a lesson learned.

She did allow in her post-round interview that she needed to study the rules more but then added that "learning the rules was pretty boring," which drew a good laugh from the press corps.

Luckily for her, she will not be forced to study this rules column. I don't believe Punahou offers classes on the Rules of Golf, so she will just have to deal with studying more exciting subjects like physics or Latin.