Golf Tips & Rules: Kate Hughes’ Rules School

Rules Rules Rules!!!

‘The game of golf is full of Rules, but rules are there to help you and not hurt you. Embrace them and learn the rules and you will see how you can play with less stress every round’!

Situation Set-Up:

Jason’s Ball comes to rest under a very popular tree that attracts many a golfer. He takes his stance and begins his backswing with the intention of making a stroke. Near the top of Jason’s backswing his club strikes a branch of the tree and breaks. Jason continues his swing and strikes the ball. Is Jason Penalized?



No, Jason does not incur a penalty because he continued his swing and struck the ball. The Rules of Golf state that a player must not improve the area of his intended swing except in making a stroke or the backward movement of his club for a stroke. In other words, since Jason continued his swing he is deemed not to have improved the area of his intended swing despite the branch breaking. Since Jason continued his swing and struck the ball he incurs no penalty

What if:

Now, had Jason discontinued his swing when he broke the branch (stopped his swing after striking and breaking the branch), he would incur a two stroke penalty for deeming to have improved the area of the intended swing. This also includes any practice swing around the ball that may improve the area of the intended swing—branch breaking or knocking off leaves.  However, if in a practice swing near the area of the intended swing by Jason results in leaves falling or a branch breaking and it is not to have been deemed improvement of where the actual swing is to take pace, then there may be no penalty. This is a total judgment call which would be discussed and decided within the group and/or committee after gathering all the facts.

Side Note:

A player must always be mindful of the surrounding area around his/her ball. Taking any practice swing under a tree near the area of your intended swing may result in a penalty if anything breaks or falls of the tree.

I typically find another tree nearby and recreate the stance I would have to take over my actual shot and see what kind of swing I will need to take to get the ball back into play. This is very helpful in creating more confidence when you address your actual ball and take a swing.

Good Luck Bunkers Paradise Nation and let us know if you have any questions!

‘keep smiling and always believe’


Written by BP Staff

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