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Reddit Golf Content of the Week: Is drinking on the course actually bad?

January 12, 2024
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Late at night, when normal human beings are sleeping, one writer spends literal hours on Reddit Golf, a treasure trove of humor, whining, equipment scores, outright lies and occasionally some great advice. It also led him, once upon a time, to Bucket Hat Guy. Each Friday, he will bring the site's best content to you, so that you can live a normal life.

It is an exceedingly rare day when I'll have a drink on the golf course, and when I do drink, we're talking one beer, max. This is not some kind of prudish stance...I love some good degenerate behavior. It's just a reflection of the ways in which I'm a competitive psychopath who takes golf—a sport where I'm barely competent on a good day—way too seriously. When I play this or literally any other game, including the stupid one I invented with my friend Ivan where you try to bounce balls into a fire pit from various places in my backyard, I want to perform well. My brain is so geared toward competition that being "good" at something takes precedence over everything else, including my ability to chill out. I see drinking as something to do when I want to relax, golf is only relaxing when I play well, booze makes me play worse, and therefore, no booze on the links. If I'm going to chunk nine straight 54-degree wedges, I'm going to do it sober, dammit!

I realize this is not the majority view. For a lot of people, even bad golf is relaxing, and an adult beverage or something a bit stronger heightens the experience. As long as you're not an ***hole on the course, I'm all for it, and despite the litany of stories you hear, I've run across surprisingly few ***holes on the course. So drink up, smoke up...chew up? Whatever floats your boat.

Apparently, though, my perspective is gaining popularity in the golf world, at least if you judge by a recent Reddit thread started by user htplc_100, titled:

"(Un)popular opinion: I don't like drinking and playing golf."

He writes:

"I’m a relative newcomer to the game. In the past year or so I’ve started to take the game really seriously. With a deep passion, love, and the commitment it deserves. I just recently finished building a simulator in my basement so I can practice more. I’m in my mid 30’s (m). I like to try and use my sim as much as possible, especially in winter months in the northeast.

Well tonight I had a couple vodka martinis with dinner and still wanted to play a round. Fired up the sim and got underway. I can handle the liquor without issue. But, I find that in my state, my fine motor skills are reduced, enough that they impact my ability to hit the ball cleanly. I found that short finesse wedge shots from ~20 yards out that I’d almost always strike pretty well (not perfectly) were really hard to hit. I found myself wiffing entirely on the ball, a terrible feeling. Overall, I find that having a couple of drinks really impacts and impairs my ability to cleanly hit a golf ball, and therefore sincerely dislike it.

I sometimes like to have a beer or 2 on the sim and that’s fine it really doesn’t impact me. But the stronger drink really impacts my ability to hit the ball and I do not like it. In conclusion, I love golf and I do like drinking. I will limit my drinking to post-rounds of golf, so as not to impact my ability to play. Does anyone feel same?"

I'll be honest: he almost lost me by describing his relationship with golf with words like "deep passion, love and the commitment it deserves." I'm a golf nut too, but you won't catch me writing wedding vows for it. (I would prefer to curse it out.) Still, he goes on to make the salient point that yes, alcohol will hurt your game, and I too read this with deep curiosity for how people would respond. Did anyone feel the same?

As it turns out, yes. As Tobias Funke once said, "there are dozens of us...dozens!" Here's a sampling.

lukin187250: If I had to think of all the golfers I know that take the game serious. Play a lot, actively practice and work on their games. Myself included in this group I'll say I know say 16 or so serious golfers. I believe only 3 of them even drink at all while playing and only 1 will kind of get drunk.

babyfade180: I used to play and drink 6 beers and a couple shots. Played like shit. Felt like shit. Those days for me are long gone and just over 4 years sober. I’m not bothered if others do as long as they don’t drive after, but all in all it’s not for me anymore.

Marauding_Marmot: Yes, now queue up hordes of people telling you how they play better after a few. I’ve never enjoyed it outside of a scramble type fun outing because sooner or later my game would get pretty sloppy. Doesn’t really matter, do what you like to do. I have no issue playing with friends that like to have a few. They understand that I’ll join them for a drink post round.

Taurus-Octopus: At the very least I'm pretty much over the depiction of golf being such a drunk sport.

narylladnar: Nah, I feel ya. I'm down to clown on the 19th hole, but, I'm not big on drinking while playing. As much as I love having a few drinks, I have always been a "I don't need to drink to have fun" kind of guy. Some people do, or at least choose to have fun that way, and that's all good. Live and let live.

(jeffsun92 had a hilarious response to this, seeing narylladnar's hometown of Christchurch: "You live in NZ where it’s beautiful courses with gorgeous back drops. Imagine playing at your local Muni par 64 in Queens NYC. You’re gonna need some drinks.")

[NameCensored]: I’m 25 and definitely enjoy the occasional nights of drinking, however when I picked up golf (June of last year) I realized I don’t enjoy drinking at all while golfing. I also find it hard to golf with people my age because to them it’s an excuse to get drunk and be out and about...I drank 1 time while golfing with a group of buddies my age and I hated it.

SirLostit: I’m in the UK, we occasionally get a few people having a beer on the course, but it really isn’t a thing. Maybe a beer after the game, but I’m always amazed at Americans posting about drinking beer on the course as if it’s the norm.

Murky_River_9045: I get the impression that getting hammered or even just drinking more than 1-2 beers over a round is a uniquely American way of playing golf. We don’t do that here in Asia, and I’ve never seen people do it in the European countries I’ve been too.

helllllllllyeahhhhhh: I stopped drinking and playing when I got serious about getting better (about 4 years ago). Now I will at most have a beer on the back 9, and only if the front nine was rough lol. I don’t miss it either. Much happier just downing water and eating an uuncrustable (or 4).

Cold-instruction4032: I completely agree. I’m 22 college senior who plays golf with my buddies couple times a month. Everyone is always drinking and playing however it’s just not any fun to me. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy drinking but I guess I enjoy the game a little bit more.

jtomrich: One day I was playing and was upset about my play and was drinking and I just asked myself, why am I drinking??? I swam through college and we trained five hours a day. Never once did I consider drinking while swimming. Why do it golfing?

JohnYCanuckEsq: I hate playing golf buzzed. I WANT to do well. I didn't pay $100 to have a shit round I regret.

For others, it depended on context.

BobWheelerJr: I don't unless my round goes to shit. I don't want any chance I'm not playing my best if my card is still in tact. Once I've had more than one double, or one triple, fuck it, pass the flask.

swinging-in-the-rain: 9/10 rounds are early in the morning and walking, no drinks. 1/10 rounds I'm in a cart drinking, and just so happen to be playing golf

Finally, there was some representation from the drinkers.

jdotcarter: I'm a 4 handicap. Won our 2 day club championship starting the day with bloody Marys and drinking several Trulys and IPAs both days. Won 2 Member Guests doing the same the year prior. With enough practice you can do it!

Diabolical-hateful: I play in a pretty serious money league on Saturday morning and I always start the round with a Bloody Mary and drink 4 beers on the front and 4 beers on the back and I feel like that’s the perfect mix for me to play good and to play relaxed.

AJAXDELREY: Love golf. Love hooch. Love golf and hooch

Necessary_Basis: Its a fine line. Alcohol definitely takes the edge off. I usually only have like 8 beers a round

Very sensible limits, there.

All in all, though, it was a pretty overwhelming response against drinking on the course. Granted, the sample audience here are people who are crazy enough about golf to post about it on Reddit, and I'm sure those types of zealots, like me, are going to be less inclined to do anything that threatens to add even one stroke to the score. I also learned something here, which is that apparently drinking while playing is a uniquely American thing. This will come as a shock to anyone who has been around a single British person before, but you learn something new every day.

In any case, the important lesson here is that if you're going to go down the dark path of taking this sport way too seriously, there are probably a lot of good reasons to keep the booze on ice until the 19th hole. If not, let loose! The golden rule, as always and no matter what you do, is "don't be an insufferable jerk."