The Loop

Happy Festivus! An airing of 42 golf-related grievances

December 23, 2015

Festivus, made popular by the show Seinfeld, is a holiday free of religious or commercial aspects. Festivus begins with the Airing of Grievances, where you tell friends and family all the ways they have disappointed you in the past year.

We are bringing this tradition to our golf world, for as much as I love the game, I got a lot of problems with it. AND NOW YOU PEOPLE ARE GONNA HEAR ABOUT IT!

Let the Airing of Golf Grievances begin!

Hitting from a divot in the fairway

Why am I penalized for doing exactly what I'm supposed to do? This summer in a match-play competition, my opponent got relief from a flower bed 50 yards right of the fairway, yet I put one down the pipe and was stuck in a Grand Canyon crater. That's akin to being faithful in marriage, catching your loved one in an affair..and they get the house in the divorce.

OK, slight exaggeration, but still, this rule blows.

Ryder Cup task force


"Task forces" are for parent-run school boards and plot devices in Chuck Norris films. Trying to figure out why your country has lost six of seven team matches is not one of them. And you better believe that self-important title will be ridiculed if the United States falls again.

The group ahead takes a 40-minute break at the turn

And when they finally adjourn from their sabbatical, they're slighted by your "audacity" to play ahead. Save the tea party for after the round, fellas.

Idiots who yell "Mashed potatoes!" on the PGA Tour

Like TV broadcasts refusing to show streakers at sporting events, I don't want to encourage this behavior by linking to a video. Same goes for "Baba Booey!" howls.

FedEx Cup scoring updates before August

No offense to Russell Knox, Kevin Kisner or Jason Bohn -- which means offense will likely be taken -- but it's pointless to post standings from the fall schedule, given most of the world's top players didn't tee it up.

Opponent not conceding a gimme putt


2015 Getty Images

You don't think I'm going to make this? It's straight uphill! How would I miss? This non-allowance can turn a friendly competition into confrontation in a heartbeat.

The only thing worse is...

Missing a gimme putt


R&A via Getty Images

You get so distracted at the formality of finishing the putt that you miss, instantly validating your partner's insistence. You're mad at them, you're mad at yourself, you're mad at your putter, you're mad at life.

Slow play

If there is a hell, then 1) I'm likely going there after accidentally telling one of my students in Bible study he was adopted and 2) It will consist of six-hour rounds.

For clarification, this is not an attack on hackers. I know plenty of golfers that can't break 100 who have no problem getting around the links in four hours. Rather, this is geared towards those who take five practice swings, fail to walk directly towards their ball, can't hold a conversation and hit at the same time or line up a putt from three angles.

Forget foot golf, widening the cups or promoting four or six hole rounds. If the game really wants to grow, faster play needs to be its primary objective.

People saying "literally" when they mean "figuratively"

OK, not a golf-centric qualm. But anytime I hear, "We were LITERALLY waiting in line forever!" I want to bash my head on a ball washer.

When someone leaves a club on a previous hole

The ultimate walk of shame.

When your opponent says you stayed in bounds but then you can't find your ball

They're just trying to help, but the emotional roller coaster --"Oh no" to "Hey, it's in play, I can still make par!" hope, finishing with the rug-pulled-out realization that the ball is lost -- is too much for my fragile psyche.

Out of style white belts


"When the end of the world comes," Mark Twain said, "I want to be in Cincinnati, because it's always twenty years behind the times." After moving from the Queen City to the Northeast this past summer, I can confirm this scrutiny from Sam Clemens still rings true.

I own an inordinate amount of white golf belts, due to the fact that, well, I thought that's what all the cool kids wear. Imagine my surprise, then, on my first day at Golf Digest to overhear three separate cracks at this accessory. Apparently this ensemble has been dated for quite some time.

I guess what I'm asking for is, if you're a PGA Tour player happening to read this, please bring back the white belt. Everyone digs retro, right? You can be a trendsetter! Please, I don't ask for much.

Failure to fix ball marks

It's such an easy rule: Fix your divot, as well as one more on the green. By this concept, dance floors should be immaculate. So why do most public greens have the surface of a teenager's acne-riddled face?

Handicap scoring

"But it evens out the playing field for everyone!" Why would I want to reward your shortcomings? Sports are one of the last bastions of meritocracy, and handicap scoring is destroying that notion. It's the equivalent of youth participation soccer medals, and it needs to be stopped.

Cell phones on the course


It's one thing to check a score. Getting on Twitter or texting babycakes between shots is another. By the way, if you're sooooo busy that you need to send emails or make calls every other tee box, maybe you shouldn't be out on the course.

In-course out of bounds

The hell with that. If I find it, I'm playing it.

Out-of-service driving range balls

I don't need ProV1s, but I expect something better than a mud-caked ball with cracks.

Unwanted advice


Cy Cyr

Oh really, I'm taking it back a tad inside? You're 15 over through six holes. Spend some time worrying about the duck hook, pal.


Wrong advice

"Whatever you do, you don't want to be long here," a buddy said to me this summer. Which would have been great, save for the fact that a lake was guarding the front of the green. When I pointed this out, he responded, "Well, you don't want to be short, either. Somewhere around the pin is what you're aiming for."

Bones MacKay, he was not.

An on-course lesson oblivious to others

Everyone deserves to play. However, if you're just getting into the game, pick a better time for initial playing endeavors than noon on a Saturday. And if you're an experienced golfer with a newbie, make sure to let faster players through. Lord knows you'd request the same gesture.

Slow play

Yeah, it's listed twice. Speed it up.

Prestigious events at non-prestigious courses

I think it's admirable that golf's governing bodies are giving different courses their shot at the spotlight. Conversely, there are so many beautiful, challenging layouts that when a subpar track hosts a prime-time event, it feels like a letdown. Looking at you, Marco Simone.

Celebration blunders

Failed high-fives: A tradition like no other.


Players unable to come to grips they are playing from the wrong tee box

If you're not breaking 90, you're on the wrong markers.

Players that wait for a green to clear on a par 5 that have no chance at reaching it in two

Who am I to play God and tell someone their dreams aren't coming true? Unfortunately, that means biting my lip as my friend waits 10 minutes to try and hit his 3-wood from 250 yards out, only to watch him top it 30 yards.

Players ironically dressing up in knickers

Fact: These are the same people who make inappropriate jokes during wedding speeches and say, "Hey, I'll see you next year!" on Dec. 31.

Tyranical starters

You want a welcoming, affable soul for a starter, not an army lieutenant who thinks it's their personal course. I get someone needs to keep things moving, but the General Patton act has got to go.

Of course, on the opposite end of the spectrum...

Courses without a marshall

Pretty simple concept, really. Hire a retiree for minimum wage, with the bonus of free golf, to ride around on a cart to break up fivesomes and slow play. (Have I mentioned I don't like slow play? Because I don't.)

Golf commentary


Not everyone needs the schtick of David Feherty, but there's no question that the sport's coverage is in desperate need of moxie. At times, it has the collective tone of an art museum tour guide.

Courses that don't have a map on the hole plate or scorecard

Golf is hard enough, at least tell me where I'm going to make this bogey.

Golf carts on par-3 courses

This is why other countries hate us.

Antiquated golf rules

Aside from the aforementioned "ball in fairway divot" law, I don't get why PGA Tour players have to keep their own score, why out of bounds exists (you're penalized less for whiffing then making contact), and the waste areas versus bunkers debate (see: Johnson, Dustin). In these instances, common sense loses out.

A player whose mood is score dependent


There are greater tragedies than back-to-back doubles. You're supposed to be having fun, dammit. But if you're not, don't ruin my round.

TV audiences getting upset at player cussing

Golf is a gentleman's game, I know. But mic up most athletes and you're going to hear four-letter words.

PGA Tour players snapping at a camera shutter

I've said this multiple times, but bears repeating: It's ridiculous that 50,000 fans can be yelling at the top of their lungs as a batter tries to hit a 99-mph heater that could be coming for his head, but golfers freak out at a "click" in their backswing to hit a stationary ball.

Tiger Woods "Is he DONE?" debates


Getty Images

Would you bet your life that Tiger will never win another major?...See, you hesitated. He's not done.

A player who can't come to terms with a lost ball

"I swear, it just trickled in." And I swear you're a moron, because your drive crashed into the woods like Thor blasting in from Bifrost Bridge. Just drop one, man.

Practice green is a different speed than the course greens

My putting is already garbage. Now you're throwing this sorcery at me?

Club throws


All due respect to Dave Shedloski, who once proposed "sometimes clubs just need to die," but fault lies with the Indian, not the arrow.

Golf course workers who are pissed that you're the last one on the course

No one likes to stay late at work. But don't happily take my money at 6:30 p.m. only to give me crap when I roll into the 18th at 9:00.

"Management suggests you use an iron off this tee" signs

I suggest you don't buy a house 20 yards off a fairway if you're afraid of getting your house drilled.

And finally...

Golfers who use a GPS-device on 70 yards and in


It doesn't matter if the shot is 60 yards or 63 yards. You're going to duff it.

Merry Festivus, everyone!