Rules Corner

Two Misses And One Double Hit

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July 14, 2012

Lake Orion, Mich. –The Rules define a stroke as “the forward movement of the club with the intention to striking at, and moving the ball.” During the second round of the U.S. Senior Open, two players attempted to strike their ball and missed it while another one hit his ball twice in one attempt.

On the 10th hole, after playing his second shot while standing in the lake alongside the fairway, Tom Watson’s ball came to rest in heavy rough alongside the putting green. Watson attempted to hit the ball, but it didn’t move. His second attempt reached the green and he two-putted for double bogey.

Larry Nelson left his putt for a birdie two on the 13th hole 1 inch short of the hole. He walked up and quickly tried to tap the ball into the hole, but missed the ball. Since he had intended to strike the ball, the stroke counted.

While both of these misses counted, Robert Fulton, not only didn’t miss his ball, he made contact twice during one stroke from the rough beside the 15 green. Rule 14-4 says that when a player accidentally makes contact with the ball more than once in the course of a stroke, the stroke counts and the player adds one penalty stroke. It doesn’t matter if the ball is struck two, three or even four times; the player only receives a single penalty stroke. Fulton went on to double bogey the hole.

All of these incidents can be embarrassing to the player. The irony of Fulton’s double hit is that this is the first U.S. Senior Open for T. C. Chen who had one of the most famous double hits in the 1985 U.S. Open just down the road at Oakland Hills Country Club. You can see that video of that famous incident here.

For more information on the Rules of Golf, go to the Rules of Golf page at or watch the Rules of Golf videos at  

Written by John Van der Borght, manager of Rules communications for the USGA. 


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