The USGA does not explicitly define a "putt," and instead defines a "stroke" taken when the ball is resting on "the putting green."
Rule 16. The Putting Green
The putting green is all ground of the hole being played which is specially prepared for putting or otherwise defined as such by the Committee. A ball is on the putting green when any part of it touches the putting green.
The line of putt is the line which the player wishes his ball to take after a stroke on the putting green. Except with respect to Rule 16-1e, the line of putt includes a reasonable distance on either side of the intended line. The line of putt does not extend beyond the hole.
A ball is holed when it is at rest within the circumference of the hole and all of it is below the level of the lip of the hole.
USGA Rules, Rule 16, http://www.usga.org/rules/rules_2002_03/index.html
Interestingly, there was not even a definition of "putting green" until 1952! Before then, the Rules were concerned with the area of play within 20 yards of the hole. See http://www.ruleshistory.com/green.html
When the ball is on the fringe, without any part touching the green, the stroke is not counted as a putt. When any part of the ball touches the green, then the stroke is counted as a putt. This would be the case regardless of whether the golfer uses a putter or any other club, and regardless of whether the player tries to roll the ball along the surface or tries to launch it or chip it.
For keeping stats on putting, the PGA Tour in 1986 stated using a stat called Putts per Green in Regulation. From that point forward, they have kept two stats on putts - total putts per round (http://www.pgatour.com/stats/r_119.html
), and putts per GIR (http://www.pgatour.com/stats/r_104.html
). Each of these pages has a definition.
The PGA Tour defines "putts per round" as follows: "Putts per round is the average number of putts per round played. "
The PGA Tour defines putts per GIR as follows: "Putting Leaders measures putting performance on those holes where the green is hit in regulation (GIR). For these holes, the total putts are divided by the total holes played. By using greens hit in regulation we are able to eliminate the effects of chipping close and one putting in the computation. "
The PGA Tour record for fewest "putts" in a four-round event is shared by Kenny Know (Harbour Town 1989) and Mark Calcavecchia (Greensboro Chrysler Classic 2002, http://www.golfweb.com/u/ce/multi/0,1977,5285054,00.html
) at 93 putts (http://www.dfw.com/mld/startelegram/sports/4175824.htm
). Ordinarily, these records are set by the golfer missing many greens in regulation, and either chipping in from off the green or putting in from the fringe. These fringe putts are not counted as "putts" because they are not strokes made while the ball is "on the green." When Rocco Mediate won the Greensboro Classic by three strokes over Calcavecchia this year, Rocco putted pretty darn well. he had a total of 104 putts over the four rounds, which is usually a top-5 putting stat for an event. Mediate hit 48 GIRs over 72 holes to rank 12th for the event. But Calcavecchia had 11 fewer putts at 93, so why didn't he win instead of losing by 3 strokes? Calcavecchia missed many greens, and had only 36 GIRs of 72 (a mere 50% when the Tour average is 65% and Mediate hit 67%). So Calcavecchia had lots of chip-ins and fringe putts. (See http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/golfonline/columns/johnson/2002/greensboro/recap
Your question about knocking a ball off a green into a bunker is answered by the above. The shot from the bunker is not a "putt" because it is not taken "on the green." Let me know if this doesn't clear up your questions.
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