Off the Grid

The 14 weirdest, wildest lies in golf history

January 17, 2019

Golf is a game of minutely controlled chaos. Atoms crashing into atoms. Weight swooping into inertia. A ballet of bounces, spins, kicks, and ricochets that goes wrong just as often as it goes right. The beauty of a such an unpredictable game—one of inches, not yards—however, is that when it goes right it's spectacular and when it goes wrong, well, it's equally spectacular. Beg to differ? Well, keep on begging, because as the weirdest, wildest lies in golf's weird, wild history prove, chaos is a beautiful thing indeed.

Shane Lowry - 2018 Abu Dhabi Championship

The Leave: The set of WALL-E 2

Before Shane Lowry could tie the course record at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Championship, he first had to conquer Trash Heap Corner. P.S. If no one's taking that couch, we might know a guy who's interested.

Phil Mickelson - 2014 Barclays Championship

The Leave: Just to the left of Big Jeff's Hotdog Haus

One day Phil Mickelson will save par from the surface of the moon. We're sure of it. Until then, his walkabout at the 2014 Barclays Championship will have to suffice.

Phil Mickelson - 2016 Farmers Insurance Open

The Leave: Under the parking lot fence

You could have an entire top 10 dedicated to Phil alone, but no matter what, he always keeps grinding. If we walked up to this lie, we'd just turn around, get in our car (about five feet away), and drive home.

Sergio Garcia - 2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational

The Leave: An endangered North American condor nest (relax PETA, not really)

The only thing that could possibly make this tree-hugging recovery any better is if John Daly were crawling around the canopy like a lemur instead of Sergio.

Seve Ballesteros - 1979 Open Championship

The Leave: The Royal Lytham & St. Anne's Car Park

Long before Jordan Spieth, there was Seve. Leading the 1979 Open Championship by two strokes, the Spanish legend had to get creative with a drop after driving it into the parking lot (inexplicably set up alongside Royal Lytham's 16th fairway). From there he went up-and-down for birdie, but the real miracle was that everybody went home with their windshield intact.

Jordan Spieth - 2017 Open Championship

The Leave: The driving range

Speaking of Spieth, we all remember this one, don't we? In a dead heat with Matt Kuchar down the stretch at Royal Birkdale in 2017, Spieth blocked his tee shot right, took an unplayable, retreated some 80 yards, and took a line-of-sight ruling from the practice range. The rest is history (well, not for Kuchar, who still sees it in his dreams every single night).

Woody Austin - 2007 Presidents Cup

The Leave: 10,000 leagues under the sea

A water ball is nothing new—just ask Bill Haas—but Woody Austin elevated the genre at Royal Montreal in 2007 with this iconic plunge. We hope the pneumonia was worth it, Woody.

Rory McIlroy - 2011 Masters

The Leave: A cabin in the woods

You might think Rory can't finish—that he doesn't have the "clutch" gene. But things were different at Augusta National back in 2011, when leading at the turn, Rory stepped up to the 10th tee box...and promptly hooked one over the hills, through the woods, and into grandma's front yard. On second thought, nevermind.

Victor Dubuisson - 2014 Accenture Match Play Championship

The Leave: A prickly position

Match play always breeds some some fun anomalies, but none weirder (or riskier) than Victor Dubuisson's thorny punch-out at the 2014 Accenture Match Play Championship. Triple digits, rattlesnakes, and trees with knives. Remind us again what's so great about desert golf?

Arnold Palmer - 1961 Open Championship

David Cannon

The Leave: Under a blackberry bush at the bottom of the sandy ditch

As legend has it (and since no footage of this audacious Arnie moment exists, that's all we have), while leading the 1961 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, Arnold Palmer's errant 16th tee shot came to a rest under a blackberry bush at the bottom of a sandy ditch. Instead of hacking it out and eating the stroke, however, the eventual beverage magnate grabbed his 6-iron, waded into the brush, and smacked the ball onto the green. Three days later he would claim the claret jug over Dai Rees by, you guessed it, one stroke. We couldn't make this stuff up if we tried.

Jason Kokrak - 2016 Wells Fargo Championship

The Leave: The nosebleeds

This is essentially the "hold my beer" response to Phil's Barclays foray. To Kokrak's credit, however, he did somehow manage to knock this to within a few feet, which is almost as impressive as hitting it on to the second story of roofed grandstands in the first place.

Viktor Hovland - 2018 U.S. Amateur Championship

The Leave: Pebble Beach (no, like the actual beach)

Pro Tip: When playing Pebble Beach, you want to avoid the "beach" at all costs. Then again, Viktor Hovland was still an amateur when he pulled off this incredible down-and-up-and-down, so we'll give him a pass.

Kelly Kraft - 2017 John Deere Classic

The Leave: Narnia

Who, what, why, where, and how are all valid questions when it comes to Kelly Kraft's ridiculous odyssey at the John Deere Classic back in 2017...none of which we have the answer to. Ask Mr. Tumnus, though. Maybe he knows.

Shooter McGavin - 1996 Tour Championship

The Leave: Jaws' size-13 sneaker

The rule says play it as it lies, Shooter.

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