At address position without the putter touching the ground. I take a back stroke and bring the putter in a forward motion  to the ball without touching the ball to assist with my alignment. Then proceed again with the take away, and make my putting stroke contacting the ball. Do this tally as a penalty stroke?

PS. Does it matter whether the putter touches the ground?

Hello and thank you for asking.

1. A "stroke" counts only when a motion is made with intent to strike the ball for an official play on it.  Obviously if you strike the ball even by mistake, it counts as a stroke.  But as long as you dont touch the ball, you can swing the putter or any club in front of, over, behind or anywhere near the ball as long as there is not genuine INTENT to play the shot on that motion.

2. The only time a putter's touching the ground matter is if the ball moves at address.  They were looking to change this rule, but say it is a highly windy day.  You set up and address the putt, you set the putter on the ground, ready to take or started the backswing, and the ball moves on its own.  That counts as a stroke.  This was to prevent cheaters and other related circumstances where someone could tap the ball closer to the hole and claim they never touched it.  If there are no TV camera replays for it, that would be a hard claim to deny.  However, if you never ground the club, this cannot apply.

This is less common, but if your ball is in a hazard area, of course you cannot ground even a putter to play out of it, as well as ay other club.  That would also be a penalty.

Hope this helps.


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