Hey Rules Guy: Last weekend my buddy hit a shot under a pine tree that had been trimmed up. After stepping in and taking a couple of practice swings, he addressed his ball. On his downswing, though, his club got caught by a branch. He continued his swing at the ball but the branch took his club out of his grip. He finished his swing with no club in his hand and the club itself flew backwards about 10-15 feet. Would this count as a stroke?
— Dan Miller, via e-mail
What's that saying about trees being 90 percent air? Tough break for your friend to be right underneath the other 10 percent. Decision 14/1 is clear on what needs to happen in this situation: Even though he completed his swing without the club in hand after the tree snatched it away, your buddy still has to count it as a stroke. Next time remind him to trim down his backswing.