Rule Tip of the Week: Double Trouble?

If you had your choice, which of the following two golf shots would you rather not experience during a competitive round: the infamous full-swing shank or the dreaded double-hit chip? These two uncommon and unplanned golf shots will give any golfer nightmares for days or weeks after they occur!


When the full-swing shank suddenly appears out of nowhere, not only is the player faced with the next shot from the rough or the trees, but his or her head is spinning, wondering if the next swing will produce yet another shank.




The double-hit chip occurs when a player’s wedge gets caught in the grass and momentarily decelerates. When the club subsequently escapes the grass, it collides with the ball a second time and usually knocks the ball sideways. At least, with the double-hit chip, the player knows why it happened. However, this unfortunate shot results in a penalty stroke, and can shatter a player’s confidence whether or not he or she is in contention.



No golfer is immune to the double-hit chip, not even Tour players. The four photographs to the right show the partial swing sequence of Bud Cauley during his third round of the 2017 Valero Texas Open at the TPC San Antonio’s AT&T Oaks he was attempting to chip onto the putting green of the 12th hole. Addressing the ball on the fringe, Cauley was looking to chip his ball into the hole for a birdie. However, he double-hit his chip and, all of a sudden, he was faced with a 13-foot putt from the fringe for a bogey. Fortunately, Cauley kept his composure and drained the putt to limit the damage.





For the double-hit chip, the applicable Rule is Rule 14-4 [Striking The Ball More Than Once] which reads as follows: “If a player’s club strikes the ball more than once in the course of a stroke, the player must count the stroke and add a penalty stroke, making two strokes in all.” That’s the “double trouble” with the double-hit, i.e., two strokes added to your score. The player must then play his or her ball from where if comes to rest. Note that if the player happens to triple-hit his or her ball, the penalty is still one stroke.





Probably the most famous (or infamous) double-hit chip by a Tour professional occurred during the 1985 U.S. Open at the Oakland Hills Country Club. In the final round, T.C. Chen had a four-shot lead as he was preparing to play his fourth stroke onto the putting green of the par-4 5th hole. Unfortunately, he double-hit his chip shot which came to rest on the fringe to his left. Lying 5, he chipped past the hole, and then two-putted, ending up with a quadruple bogey. Within a matter of minutes, his commanding lead was gone and he was tied with Andy North. T.C. Chen eventually lost to Andy North by just one stroke!


May 2017 Rules