Most of us have been taught the same lesson at some point in our lives—finish what you start. Whether it's an around-the-house project, a book you are reading, or the sandwich you just made, the lesson always applies. Nobody likes a quitter.
This is true at every level of golf. From the final round of the Masters to a money match with your buddies, you've got to see it through. It's never a good look to "WD," quit on a round or simply walk off the course if things aren't going your way. However, sometimes there are extenuating circumstances in which your hands are tied.
We'd never encourage bailing on even the most mundane of golf rounds, but we can admit there are a few situations where we wouldn't blame you, either. That said, there are some times when it's never acceptable, including during competition, playing against your buddies for money, or if you don't like the layout of the course, an excuse once used by a Golf Digest colleague who shall remain nameless.
Here are the seven times we believe it's OK to call it quits in the middle of a round.
Extreme weather conditions
This one goes without saying. Is the sun so sweltering it's unbearable? Your 83 isn't worth the potential heat stroke. Is snow beginning to fall? Get the hell inside and find the nearest fire (looking at you, Montana high school golfers). Torrential downpour? Unless you're practicing for the Open Championship, there's no need to play on.
Glacial pace of play
If the front nine takes three hours and you don't walk off the course, maybe you're a masochist. Time is more valuable than ever nowadays, and it shouldn't be wasted sitting in a cart between shots for minutes on end while the group ahead grinds out three-footers.
Case of the shanks
Speaking from personal experience, there may be no lower feeling on a golf course (or maybe life in general). I'm not talking about hitting one shank that you immediately recover from; I'm talking about the shanks. It's a disease that can take weeks, months and maybe even years to get over. I once had the shanks for an entire summer (it's healthy to talk about it). It got so bad one round that I started hitting half six irons every shot just to advance the ball. If you ever have found yourself in a similar situation, we can't blame you for wanting to walk off the golf course.
Like extreme weather, this one doesn't need much explaining. Death in the family, wife in labor, kids need to be picked up from school, etc. Family first, always. Unless you have a legitimate shot at the course record (kidding, sort of).
Terrible playing partners
Golf is supposed to be your getaway from whatever it is you are trying to get away from. If that experience is being spoiled by someone who is reloading at every tee, never shutting the hell up or drunkenly stumbling around the property, that defeats the whole purpose of the "getaway."
Causing irreparable damage to your psyche
This could fall under the category of shanks, but it's a little different. We're talking about the rounds in which you're in the pocket on every hole, can't make lower than a double bogey, or, if you're actually holing out, on the verge of shooting 130 as a 10 handicap. Confidence-shattering stuff, if you will. Sometimes, really, really bad days happen, and while a bad day on the course is better than a bad day at the office, it's still not worth causing mental damage that could be impossible to recover from.
Running out of balls
Self-explanatory. If you've run out of golf balls, you literally can't play anymore. It's happened to the best of us ... if your buddy can't spot you a golf ball, there's nothing left to do. And it's a lesson you'll learn from before next time.