Sunday, 16 May 2010

Striking the Ball More Than Once - Rule 14-4

Peter Hanson (photo

Swede Peter Hanson won his third European Tour title in Majorca this week, despite having incurred a one stroke penalty for a double hit on his final round. Only a slow motion television camera caught the fact that Hanson clipped his chip at the 12th a second time, but after being informed on the course about the incident he then birdied the 15th and 17th to put himself back in contention. He did well to get up and down from a bunker at the last to take the European Tour event into a sudden death playoff with Alejandro Canizares, which he won with a par at the first extra hole.

Hanson was penalised under Rule 14-4;
“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.”
Many golfers are confused as to whether they have to count the times they hit the ball (e.g. twice) as well as the penalty stroke. You will see from the wording of the Rule above that this is not the case. There is only one stroke at the ball and one penalty stroke; no matter how many times the ball is hit during the course of that stroke.

Striking the ball more than once is a different situation from when a ball that has been struck rebounds off something and hits the club again. However, the result is similar in that in the latter case the stroke counts and there is also a one stroke penalty, this time under Rule 19-2, Ball in Motion Deflected or Stopped by the Player, Partner, Caddie or Equipment.

Decision 14-4/3 is also interesting regarding a double hit;
"Q. In playing a chip shot, a player's club strikes the ground several inches behind the ball and does not come into contact with the ball. However, the ground is struck with enough force to cause the ball to move. The player's club continues and strikes the ball while it is moving. What is the ruling?
A. The player must count his stroke and add a penalty stroke under Rule 14-4.
Even though the club itself did not initially strike the ball, the ball was put into motion due to the stroke; therefore, Rule 14-4 applies."
Here is an interesting video clip of Jeong Jang making a double hit at the US Women’s Open in 2006.

The initial ruling by the walking official, after asking Jang what had happened, was that he did not feel she had struck the ball twice with her stroke. However, some doubt remained and further replays were cued up for review by USGA officials. The video was run again and again before it was determined conclusively by USGA Senior Director of Rules and Competitions Mike Davis that Jang had indeed hit her ball twice
and she was penalised one stroke. In my opinion the evidence is pretty conclusive.

Keep playing by the Rules,

Barry Rhodes

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Lawrie said...

Hi Barry

In the video clip the rules official clearly states that there was no penalty imposed. He says that there wasn't clear eveidence of a double hit and that they relied on the players honesty not to impose a penalty.

Sorry, but the ball was clearly struck twice. The rules officials got this one wrong and it is baffling to me as to how they could have come to the conclusion they did.

Barry Rhodes said...


I'm sorry. I should have made it clear that the initial ruling by the walking official was reversed when video replays were cued up for review by senior USGA officials after Jang's round had been completed. One of the relatively few occasions where a professional player's version of the events has been overruled.


Jim Halpenny said...

I watched the event live on TV and they replayed the Peter Hanson incident in super slow motion a number of times. Clearly at real-time speed there is no indication that Hanson hit the ball twice during the stroke and I'm sure that he did not notice it either. It is ONLY because the incident was recorded and that super slow motion could be used to view the incident, that the rules infringement was noticed. This is very tough on Hanson in my opinion and it does raise a general issue regarding the use of technology in this manner. I'm wondering now how many times I have broken this rule but never noticed - indeed this applies to all golfers. If we use super slow motion video on all shots would we see even further rules infringements - e.g. player touches one grain of sand on his backstoke (which was not visible in real-time etc etc). Clearly the Hanson incidents proves that there are rules infringements that we cannot detect with the naked eye in real-time, so should they now record and replay all tournament shots in slow-mo ? Why just pick on Hanson's shot ? I'm not convinced that this particular use of technology will help our game!

Jim Halpenny

Barry Rhodes said...


I understand your point, but would argue that if tournament Rules Officials chose to ignore breaches of the Rules that were brought to their attention the integrity of the game would suffer.

It was evident to most observers that Jeong Jang had a double hit and it would have been a travesty if she had not subsequently been penalised.


Jim Dauer, said...

It's laughable that Jang could watch that video with rules officials and still try to tell them she only hit the ball once.

Jim Dauer

Lawrie said...

Thanks for the clarification Barry, makes a lot more sense now.

I too am dumfounded that Jang would still insist she didn't double hit the ball, in spite of clear evidence to the contrary.

The correct result was achieved to be sure.

courtgolf said...

All this talk about the video replay and the roaming official, didn't Hanson say that he hit the ball twice ? That's the end of the discussion right there. The honesty of the player is what is most important here. (hear that, Michelle Wie ?)

Barry - here's a rule for your tutorial. I was watching the Sybase last week and saw a couple of the players working on the lines of their putts - but they were putting their putters down on the green (I would assume to get some idea of the speed they needed from that point)

The angle of the camera made it difficult to be sure, but it looked like they were touching their intended line - which is a rules violation.

If the putter is "next to" the line they are considering, isn't that still a violation ? A couple of seasons ago, we saw a player, I believe it was Kenny Perry, maybe not, tap down a divot a few feet ahead and slightly to the right of the direction he was going to play, and he was hit with a stroke penalty for it.

Barry Rhodes said...


You are correct in that the line of putt is the line that the player wishes his ball to take after a stroke on the putting green including a reasonable distance on either side of the intended line.

I did not see the incident in the Sybase Match Play Championship that you describe but if the players did touch their line of putt on the putting green they should have incurred a penalty under Rule 16-1a.


Anonymous said...


You are a rules GOD! Sure wish you would produce a full length DVD. Not only do you understand the rules of golf better than anyone, but also you are an incredible communicator on your short videos. I'm amazed there are thousands of instructional DVDs on the golf swing, but almost NO DVDs explaining the rules of golf. No wonder we have 6 hour rounds!

Barry Rhodes said...


Thanks, it's always encouraging to hear from golfers that I am helping to understand the Rules better.

No plans for a DVD yet but I did produce an audio CD with Andy Brown; 'The 99 Golden Nuggets to Demystifying the Rules of Golf' -
99 Golden Nuggets CD


Tom in Punta Gorda said...

Quick question. We were playing an alternate shot format and a player struck the ball twice on a single stroke. Do we follow Rule 14-4 or has the player actually disqualified himself by not alternating the shots? Thanks.

Barry Rhodes said...


The side incurs the penalty of one stroke under Rule 14-4 and the other player takes the next stroke. In foursomes, penalty strokes incurred do not affect the order of play.