My Golf Instructor

The Double Hit
What Happens When You Strike the Ball More Than Once

Learn the rule and penalty for double hitting a golf ball.  Double Hitting

It was the Women's State Championship and my first trip as I was barely 18. I squeezed into the field by winning a sudden death playoff. The next thing you know I'm talking to reporters about being the "kid" in the field. This was the late 80s and pre-Tiger by a few years, so it wasn't often you had a teenager in the field beating up on all the adults. The next thing you know I'm taking down the star senior from the University of Missouri in the quarterfinals. She had was 4 years older, an accomplished player and well known by the media. I won 7 & 6 after draining putts left and right. Then the pressure was really on. I was in the semi-finals on my first trip to the event a playing an older and seasoned veteran. Needless to say while I was having fun all week, my nerves were really jumping. I was playing really good golf and actually driving and putting better than my opponent, but I had no training in how to calm my nerves and stay focused. I was just too young and inexperienced.

The next day I was keeping up with my opponent beautifully. I can't remember the details, but I think on the first few holes I was up at least one, maybe two. Then somewhere around the 3rd or 4th hole I was positioned in deep rough with an uphill lie only about twenty feet from the green. I took out my sand wedge (the wrong club), flubbed right underneath the ball and double hit it as my club came up out of the grass. I was of course dumbfounded, freaked out and finished with a double bogey after taking my penalty. It was a turning point in the match as I quickly lost confidence.

Even the Pros Are Susceptible

Whether it's a tough lie or bad technique, double hits can unfortunately occur although they are fairly uncommon. They are most often caused by flipping the clubhead past your hands with your wrists. As you scoop under the ball and the ball pops up, your clubhead can hit it again as it's racing past your hands. Bad lies such as rough, creek beds and severe uphill lies can be prime areas for this to occur. Don't feel bad if this has happened to you as the touring pros are not immune either. Just this past year in Abu Dhabi Phil Mickelson tried to hit right handed out of a bad lie in some bushes and double struck the club. The rules of golf don't care if you hit it 2, 3, or 4 times. Just hitting it more than once gives you a nice penalty stroke and you have to count the shot to boot.

Here is USGA Rule 14-4:

"14-4. Striking The Ball More Than Once
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."

If you are struggling with a flip or poor technique through impact I would definitely suggest taking a look at this article from our site:


Note that there are several other articles that have to do with impact and taking divots that may be quite helpful to you as well.

Avoid a Double Strike

Remember, when you are faced with a poor lie, especially in long or unpredictable grass that a double hit is a possibility. There are however steps you can take to avoid getting this penalty:

  • The first step is to make sure you don't take too much loft where the ball could easily just roll up the clubface. If you would normally use a sand wedge for instance, you would probably be way better off using a pitching wedge or 9 iron.
  • Next, lean onto your front foot and stay over your front foot. If you back up or fall back through the strike it makes it much easier to scoop underneath it and hit it again.
  • Last, focus on hitting down with a descending blow and keeping your hands well ahead of the clubhead. This way it won't catch up to the ball after impact.
Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

Who is Maria Palozola?
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