Golf Rules: The Accidental Double Hit In Golf + What To Do When It Happens

Strange things happen on the golf course. Your ball can get stuck in a tree or end up next to a dangerous animal.

The good news is that the rules of golf cover it all. Today we are going to focus on the accidental double hit in golf.

It is hard to believe it ever happens, but it must be more common than you think. Why else would we have a rule on how to proceed after a double hit in golf?

We hope you never need this rule, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.

accidental double golf hit

What Is A Double Hit In Golf?

Quick definition: a double hit in golf is when you hit the ball twice during one swing.

The most common situation is when you are chipping the golf ball. It can happen when you get too “wristy” and Yip at the ball.

Typically, you hit behind the ball and pop it up in the air. As your club goes through the turf and into your follow-through you hit the ball a second time.

How do you know if you double-hit the ball? First, it feels very strange – very different from a normal chip shot.

Second, the ball will most likely go wildly offline and finally, you can hear it. You will notice a “click, click” noise when you have a double hit in golf.

It is possible to double-hit a putt, but that is fairly rare. It can also happen when you are trying to hit an iron shot out of high grass.

It is nearly impossible to double-hit a driver off the tee or a full shot from the fairway.

accidental double golf hit

The Tragic Story Of TC Chen

It is never good when your name becomes golf slang for a poor shot. This is exactly what happened to professional golfer TC Chen.

You will hear golfers refer to a double hit in golf as a “TC Chen” or they might even say “I TC Chen’ed”. His nickname became “2 chips Chen”. Let us explain.

He was playing great in the 1985 US Open. In fact, he made the first double eagle (albatross) in US Open history and had a two-stroke lead entering the final round.

Sadly, during the final round, he made a quadruple-bogey 8 which included a chip that he hit twice during one swing. Don’t believe us, here is the video.

He stayed near the lead but ultimately lost to Andy North by 1 stroke. The dreaded double hit in golf cost him a major championship.

Lost the tournament and his name became part of our golf lexicon!

accidental double golf hit

The Rules For A Double Hit In Golf

Regardless if you are a professional like TC Chen or simply a weekend warrior you need to know how to proceed if you hit the ball twice during one swing.

The USGA (United States Golf Association) has changed this rule since TC Chen’s experience at the US Open in 1985. Let’s take a quick look at the old and the new rule.

Double Hit In Golf Rule (Prior to 2019)

Until very recently, you received a penalty stroke when you accidentally hit the golf ball twice during a swing.

Here is a quick scenario. You lie 3 next to the green. You hit your 4th shot, accidentally double-hit it, and it ends up in the bunker. Under the old rule, what shot are you hitting?

You are now hitting your 6th shot. Your “5th shot” would be the penalty stroke.

If we go back to our TC Chen story, this penalty stroke prevented him from forcing a playoff against Andy North in the US Open.

accidental double golf hit

Double Hit In Golf Rule (Current)

In 2019 the USGA released revised rules of golf. Their goal was to simplify some of the more complicated rules and make the game easier to play.

The “double hit” rule is one of the items they changed. They removed the one-stroke penalty.

Now you simply go to your ball and play your next shot. Once your buddies stop laughing at you!

Here is an interesting question. Does this rule change make TC Chen laugh or cry?

If the current rule would have been in place in 1985 he would have forced a playoff against Andy North and he might be a major champion.

accidental double golf hit

Wouldn’t it be easier to live with the nickname “Two Chips Chen” if the US Open trophy was sitting in your house?

In recent interviews, TC has said that he is over it and that he feels his real mistake was the previous shot that put him in a bad spot.

We are glad it doesn’t bother him any longer and we hope you never hit a poor shot and become part of the golf lexicon!

Up Next: More Strange Golf Rules

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Ray has been playing golf for 35+ years, including being part of his High School and College golf teams. While he still enjoys playing in amateur tournaments, Ray now focuses on growing the game of golf through teaching and coaching. He has two sons that both play golf competitively and loves spending time watching them compete. Ray continues to play in local amateur golf events and currently has a +2 handicap.

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