How Rule Changes and Tips Can Help You Avoid a Double Hit in Golf

Colin McCarthy

double hit in golf

Every golfer, regardless of skill level, has faced the dreaded double hit. Imagine the scene: the ball pops up perfectly into the path of your follow-through, only to be clipped again and sent off course.

While it might look like a cool trick, it’s anything but when it happens during a serious game. Double hits, though uncommon, can occur due to tough lies or poor technique.

Factors like bad lies in rough creek beds or severe uphill slopes often contribute to this mishap. Even professional golfers aren’t immune; notable incidents have been recorded in major tournaments.

According to USGA Rule 14.4, a double hit not only counts as a stroke but also incurs a penalty, making it a costly mistake on the course.

Understand the Double Hit in Golf

In golf, a “double hit” occurs when a player unintentionally strikes the ball twice during a single stroke.

This can happen when the clubhead makes contact with the ball and then, either due to a poor swing or a misjudgment of the ball’s position, the clubhead hits the ball again during the same swing.

Definition and Basics

A double hit in golf occurs when a player unintentionally strikes the ball more than once during a single stroke. This often happens when the clubhead makes contact with the ball, and then, due to various factors, hits it again before it fully leaves the impact zone.

According to USGA Rule 14.4, if a player’s club accidentally hits the ball more than once, there is no penalty and it counts only as one stroke.

This rule adjustment aims to provide fairness and consistency in situations where accidents occur rather than intentional actions.

Common Scenarios Leading to Double Hits

Double hits typically happen during poor or difficult shot situations.

For instance, players often experience double hits in the following scenarios:

Thick Rough

Thick rough can trap the clubhead, causing the player to lose control and inadvertently strike the ball multiple times. A player may find this issue particularly with short pitch shots out of dense bermudagrass.

Flipping Wrists

Improper wrist action, such as flipping the wrists at impact, can lead to a double hit. As the clubhead moves past the hands, it may catch the ball again if the wrists are not kept stable.

Tough Lies

Difficult lies may compel players to execute non-standard shots, increasing the likelihood of mishits. In complex situations, maintaining a clean contact becomes challenging, leading to possible double hits.

Improper Techniques

Lack of a descending path when striking the ball can cause the club to bounce and result in a double hit. Ensuring clean contact with a proper attack angle minimizes this risk.

Historical Perspective on Double Hits

The historical perspective on double hits in golf provides insight into how the rules and interpretations of the game have evolved over time.

Golf Rules Up to 2018

Before 2018, double hits in golf resulted in penalties. According to USGA rules, if a player accidentally struck the ball more than once in a single stroke, the player would incur an additional penalty stroke.

This rule often created controversy, as players argued the penalty was too harsh for an accidental action. Such incidents usually happened in challenging conditions, such as thick rough or awkward lies.

The rationale behind the penalty was to maintain the integrity of the game by discouraging careless strokes and ensuring fairness across all conditions.

Changes in the Rules Post-2018

In 2019, significant changes were made to the Rules of Golf, including those related to double hits. The USGA and R&A decided to eliminate the penalty for accidental double hits.

Under the new Rule 10.1a, if a player’s club accidentally strikes the ball more than once, it only counts as one stroke without any additional penalty. This change aimed to reflect the realities of modern gameplay.

The decision was influenced by the recognition that many elements on a golf course, including accidental deflections off equipment or other players, should not result in penalties if unintentional.

The governing bodies emphasized fairness and sought to reduce the complexity of the rules for casual and competitive players alike.

Implications of a Double Hit

A double hit in golf can have various implications for the player, both in terms of the immediate consequences during the round and the potential impact on their overall performance and mindset.

Scoring and Penalties

Before 2018, golfers faced a penalty for double hits under USGA Rule 14.4. Each additional contact counted as an extra stroke, and players needed to add a penalty stroke to their score.

This often resulted in higher scores and frustration, especially when the double hit was accidental.

Since 2019, the updated Rule 10.1a treats double hits differently. Players no longer face penalties for accidental double hits, leveling the playing field.

When a club accidentally hits the ball more than once during a single stroke, only one stroke is counted without any additional penalty.

This change reflects a more lenient approach, similar to rules for accidental deflections from a player’s body, equipment, or caddie.

Impact on Game Play

These rule changes have significantly impacted gameplay. Players now focus on improving techniques without the fear of incurring extra penalties for accidental double hits.

By eliminating the penalty, the revised rules encourage a more relaxed and enjoyable experience on the course.

Golfers benefit from a simplified rulebook, leading to fewer disputes and quicker resolution of potential issues. This simplification plays a key role in enhancing the game’s appeal for both amateur and professional players.

Additionally, it aligns the treatment of double hits with other unintentional acts, such as ball deflection, ensuring consistency and fairness across the board.

Tips to Prevent Double Hits

Preventing double hits in golf requires a combination of proper technique, mental focus, and awareness of potential pitfalls during your swing.

Here are some tips to help minimize the occurrence of double hits:

Improving Your Swing Technique

Enhancing swing technique plays a critical role in avoiding double hits. Swinging at a consistent and controlled pace allows better contact with the ball.

Golfers can practice maintaining a proper stance with balanced weight distribution to achieve a cleaner hit. Using drills focusing on the downswing helps ensure that the club moves decisively through the ball.

For instance, practicing with alignment sticks can correct swing paths, reducing errant movements that might lead to double hits. Regular coaching sessions provide feedback to identify and eliminate common errors in the swing.

Proper Use of Golf Equipment

Using golf equipment correctly also mitigates the risk of double hits. Choosing the right club for each shot is essential.

Players should ensure their clubs fit properly for their height and swing style. Equipment maintenance, such as checking for cracks or worn grips, boosts precision and control, preventing mishits.

Custom-fitted clubs tailored to a golfer’s specific needs offer better handling and more accurate shots. For example, using a wedge suited for short pitch shots from thick rough can help avoid double hits by providing better control over the ball.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Rule 10.1a in golf?

Rule 10.1a was introduced in 2018 to eliminate penalties for accidental double hits. This rule maintains fairness by counting only one stroke for accidental double hits, enhancing the overall golfing experience.

How does scoring work for accidental double hits post-2019?

Post-2019, if an accidental double hit occurs, only one stroke is counted. This change aims to reduce penalties and allow players to focus on improving their game.

What are some tips to prevent double hits in golf?

To prevent double hits, maintain a consistent swing pace, practice with alignment sticks, get coaching feedback, choose the right club for each shot, ensure your equipment fits properly, and consider using custom-fitted clubs.

Why was Rule 10.1a introduced in golf?

Rule 10.1a was introduced to enhance fairness in the game by eliminating penalties for accidental double hits. This rule allows players to avoid additional penalties, making the game more enjoyable.

Can custom-fitted clubs help reduce double hits?

Yes, custom-fitted clubs can provide better control and help reduce the risk of double hits. Properly fitted equipment ensures that players can focus on their swing technique without worrying about accidental penalties.


Understanding the evolution of the rules surrounding double hits in golf and implementing effective strategies to prevent them can significantly enhance a player’s experience on the course.

By focusing on swing technique and using properly fitted equipment, golfers can minimize the risk of accidental double hits.

This not only improves their game but also allows them to play with greater confidence and enjoyment. As the sport continues to evolve, staying informed and adapting to new rules and techniques will be key to mastering the game of golf.

Regular practice and seeking guidance from experienced coaches can also play an essential role in refining your skills.

Building a strong foundation and staying consistent with your efforts will ultimately lead to better performance and a more fulfilling golfing experience.

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Colin McCarthy

Golf is about mastering your misses and learning from them. I seek answers on the how and why of the golf swing, gaining experience even when answers elude me. With over 11,000 hours of teaching and a hunger for learning, I welcome any questions. My goal is to introduce golf to as many as possible, simplifying the game for all to enjoy. Passionate, eager, and ambitious, I'm here to teach, listen, and learn. LinkedIn

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