10 ways you could actually hurt yourself playing golf

December 03, 2022
High angle view of a man lying on golf balls

Design Pics/Kelly Redinger

Any golfer has found themselves defending our great game while a naysayer tries to tell us golf isn’t a sport. As we desperately try to defend golf’s sport status, we sometimes (dare we say always) struggle to satisfy the critics.

Real sports involve injury, the result of serious physical contact between competitors, they might say. Little do those short-sighted golf critics know that there are definitely ways for us to hurt ourselves playing this seemingly benign game. Sure, you won’t hear of many ACL tears or broken legs, but there’s pain that comes with golf nonetheless.

With that, we present 10 ways you can actually hurt yourself playing golf. We’re not here to give you the obvious examples of freak cart mishaps or run-ins with alligators—these are the real ways that you put your body on the line each time you tee it up.

Stabbing yourself with a divot-repair tool

Reaching into your bag on the first tee, all you’re looking for is a few tees, a ball marker and a divot repair tool. The problem? You have to avoid the landmines—the divot tool or tee that’s facing “spikes up.” Prick the tip of your finger on one of them and your 10-finger grip just became a nine-digit one for the day.

Taking a club to the ankle


Michael Reaves

The usual suspects are a putter or a wedge. After getting out of a bunker and trying to smack the sand off your shoes as the pros do, you misfire and connect with bone instead of shoe. The pain starts sharp and quickly moves into a dull throbbing sensation that makes you wish you chose football growing up.

Thinning a shot in the cold

Catching one skinny on a frigid day is like hitting your funny bone, except you’re also subjected to watching a terrible shot cruise at its 10-foot apex before diving into trouble. The vibrations ring up the club and into your hands, which are already trembling from the cold temps.

Hitting a root


David Cannon

You thought you were far enough away from the tree. Roots can’t possibly extend this far, you told yourself. You thought wrong, and now your wrist—which was violently jarred as the club moved through wood—is paying the price.

Sand going into your eyes

The approach from the bunker felt decent off the club, but you have no hope of watching it fly as the wind whips a pile of grit back in your face. Quickly shut your lids to avoid serious damage. Don’t believe us? This unfortunate series of events caused Viktor Hovland to withdraw from the 2021 U.S. Open.

Watch out for thorns

Golf balls are expensive, so when we snap-hook a drive into some brush, we don’t abandon the search easily. After finally emerging from the forest to take a drop, our shins tell the story of the carnage that went on in there. Thorns and poison ivy are no joke.

Foot slipping

How Scottie Scheffler—with his eccentric trail foot action—hasn’t shredded his back yet, we aren’t sure. When us commoners take a lash with the big stick and a foot gives way, we’re often left with a litany of ailments, not a green jacket.


Sure, the new shoes look nice on the outside, but on the inside your feet are wondering what the hell they did to deserve such poor treatment. Or maybe it’s the sock’s fault for falling below the heel of the shoe. Let’s hope you’ve built up the calluses on your hands and feet to protect against these nagging sores.

First swing after a night out

The libations were flowing, the music was blaring and all was well. Standing on the first tee a few hours later—Pedialyte in one hand, Tylenol in the other—all is not well. The aching limbs are pleading for you to reconsider, but a tee time is a tee time. With that first drive, anything could (and is likely to) give out.

Chafing (say no more)

Forgive (or thank) us for not diving into much detail here. Suffice to say, golfers understand this unrelenting pain and discomfort. Cue the baby powder.