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The next 13 dumbest things in golf

October 22, 2021

It says a lot about our beautiful game that we’ve built a franchise out of the “dumbest things in golf.” This is the fourth straight year reflecting on the game’s absurdities and abominations. Perhaps this will be the last edition of this feature. We’re not so sure. Regardless, we think you’ll agree that the below items belong in a growing list of more than 50 dumbest things in golf.

High handicappers who insist on playing from the tips

Talk about a lack of self-awareness. You’ve probably heard this golfer before: “Let’s go all the way back. I want to get my money’s worth.” Problem is, when you’re north of a 15-handicap you might as well say, “Let’s lengthen this round by 45 minutes, make myself completely miserable along with those I’m playing with and spend an additional $40 on an extra dozen golf balls.”

Seriously, what is wrong with you? Sure, golf is supposed to be challenging. But I also recall a saying about knowing your limitations—especially when that includes not being able to clear a forced carry off the tee.

Shooting a yardage from 30 yards and in

Cy Cyr

We’re all for golfers taking the game seriously and certainly applaud those who want to play their best at all times. But when we see someone whip out the rangefinder from 30 yards and in, the text bubble above our head says, “Good grief, really?”

For starters those are feel shots and not something you’ve dialed in a yardage for. Second, you probably can figure out within a yard or two what the distance is just by eyeballing it. And for those about to jump down my throat and disagree, answer me this: Do you zap a number when you’re faced with the longest putt on the course? Nah, didn’t think so.

Taking more than one practice swing

Can someone please explain the rationale for this? Sure, a practice swing is fine. ONE practice swing. That is more than enough to loosen up and visualize the shot you’re going to hit (as if you actually do that). Worse yet is someone who takes multiple practice swings and multiple divots while doing so.

You’re not making any friends with your fellow golfers or superintendent by doing that. Take one, settle in and go. You’ll make fewer enemies and need less Advil at round’s end.

Pushing a group that is obviously waiting on a group in front of them

Cy Cyr

We all hate waiting on a golf course. But standing on a tee or in the middle of the fairway with hands on hips intently staring at the group in front of you so they can see your displeasure 200 yards away is a little rude. Plus, it’s more than bad form when the group ahead of you is also being held up. We know rangers can be useless in policing slow play, but if you’re going to make a little bit of a scene as to your impatience, make 100 percent sure that the stare you’re giving is aimed at the offending party.

Being late for your tee time

Sure, who doesn’t enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee while taking a few minutes to surf the web or catch up on emails before heading to the course. And that’s just fine—except don’t do it at the expense of being late for your tee time. Be cognizant of the fact that it doesn’t just affect you (although coming into the club’s driveway on two wheels with your hair on fire is probably not great for your game), it’s also annoying to your playing partners who are stalling on the first tee wondering if you’re sick or simply a tool that lost track of time. Note: We will grant an exception for being late to women’s or men’s night play. We know getting out of work can be a tricky proposition.

Pockets inside pockets in your golf shorts

To quote Warden Norton from “Shawshank Redemption,” I want whoever thought of building pockets inside golf shorts “found not tomorrow, not after breakfast, but now.” I mean it. I need an explanation for why you designed something that makes it look like I’m doing something unseemly every time I try to locate my ball marker in my pocket. It’s awful enough that it’s a bad look, but it also frustrates golfers and slows things down. Give the person who thought of this 25 to Life for the offense.

Trying to qualify for the U.S. Open when you’re a vanity scratch

It happens every year. A few golfers fudge their handicaps to get to the 1.4 index limit so they can boast to their buddies, “Hey, not sure if I told you but I’m qualifying for the U.S. Open next week.” No, no you’re not. The only way you’re getting to Brookline is to buy a ticket.

What you’re doing is this: You’re wasting the $200 entry fee; you’re going to (rightfully) be looked at with scorn by those who rightfully belong there and you’re probably going to shoot a score so embarrassingly high that you no card, which is yet another classless move. Yes, the U.S. Open is “open.” Just leave it for those who have the game to give it a crack.

Carts for players only on tour

Stan Badz

I see it but I still can’t believe it. Some players on the PGA Tour Champions hop in a cart, take a sip of a drink or light up a heater while their caddie lugs a fully-loaded staff bag on their shoulder down the fairway. WTF? Haven’t they learned a thing about teamwork?

If you’re not going to let your bagman hitch a ride with you at least let them lighten the load by throwing the bag on the back of the cart. And for those who still won’t do this, you’re just asking your guy to give you a bad yardage—on purpose.

Loud music on the course—without regard for others

Music has become an acceptable part of a casual round of golf in many instances, but remember not everyone is on board with that yet. Have some courtesy. Keep the decibel level down and the noise inside your group—or better yet, inside your own cart. I don’t need to hear “Magic Carpet Ride” while trying make a six-footer for par two greens over.

Begging for a gimme

Match play is fun and lends itself to the generous act of conceding putts. But you should never expect someone to give you one. Even worse is the player who knocks an approach putt to two, two-and-a-half feet and takes their time getting to the ball, fumbling around for a ball-marker for a few extra seconds in the hopes of hearing, “Oh, alright, that’s good.” Have some freaking self-respect for crying out loud. Sure, graciously accept any gift your opponent wishes to bestow upon you in the concession area, but you’d also be well-served to adopt my mantra about putts I feel should be given: If it’s good, then it should be no problem to knock it in.

Agonizing over a two-footer

Speaking of short putts, perhaps part of the reason you’re so afraid of them is that you put more importance on them than you should. You carefully mark them, stare at it from every angle and by the time you’re ready to pull the trigger your body has seized up and every negative thought known to mankind has crept into your psyche. Conversely, how many times during casual golf have you just walked up to a two-footer, placed the putter behind the ball and confidently swept the ball into the hole center cut? Save for a shorty with some wicked break, give this a try for a while. Your personal stokes gained/putting stats will thank you.

Lift, clean and place in anything but the absolute worse of conditions

Tom Meeks was the USGA’s senior director of rules and competitions during the 1996 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills. On Wednesday of tournament week, a heavy storm hit the area. How heavy? The car of one of my co-workers was partially submerged in water in media parking. When Meeks addressed the media, he was asked if—given the conditions—lift, clean and place would be implemented. The reply was legendary. “This is the U.S. Open. No, we won’t play lift, clean and cheat.”

Bottom line, golf was meant to be played by playing the ball as you find it. Embrace it. Unless your car is submerged.

A club-cleaning brush

I am dismayed to report that a Google search for “golf club cleaning brush” returned 7,670,000 results. Clearly the apocalypse is upon us. In terms of stigma these are right up there with a shot-counter and ball retriever. Why do these exist when a good wipe of the towel will normally do the job and using a tee to get out any remaining dirt is more than suitable? Plus those metal bristles hurt like Hades if you accidentally bump against them, not to mention metal on metal can’t possibly be good for the grooves. Besides, have you ever seen a pro tour caddie use one of these? The answer is no. And if someone whose livelihood depends on keeping the sticks clean opts out, so should you.