Craziest Mistakes That Golfers Make

By: Golfshake Editor | Mon 11 Nov 2019 | Comments

We have become accustomed to seeing golfers tripping themselves up with the rules on tour, but Eddie Pepperell secured his own unique place in the gallery of mistakes by running out of balls on the 4th hole (his 13th of the round) at the Turkish Airlines Open on Saturday. Hitting a handful of shots into the water, the Englishman emulated Kevin Costner's character Roy McAvoy in the movie Tin Cup, much to the bewilderment of his playing partner Martin Kaymer. 

The former British Masters champion decided not to borrow a spare ball from the German, electing to walk off the course, disqualifying himself for failing to complete the hole. Fairly bizarre circumstances it has to be said. But it got us thinking of some more unusual incidents, daft mistakes, and mishaps that have befalling some of the biggest stars in the game.

Remarkably, on route to his historic 15-stroke victory at the U.S. Open in 2000, Tiger Woods found himself standing on the 18th tee at Pebble Beach, the 72nd hole of the championship, with only one ball remaining, having given several away to kids throughout his lap of honour, and hitting another into the water. It could have been a mini-disaster had he driven into the picturesque Carmel Bay for a second time.

It does pay to know the rules, as Lee Ann Walker discovered during the recent Senior LPGA Championship, with the American penalised a staggering 58 strokes over two rounds after being found unaware of the newly introduced law that prohibited caddies from standing behind their player on the greens. 

Not paying attention has proven costly for many players through the years. Famously, reigning Open champion Roberto De Vicenzo was set for a playoff at the Masters with Bob Goalby in 1968, but it was soon apparent that he had signed for an incorrect scorecard, as his playing partner - a future winner at Augusta - Tommy Aaron had marked a 4 for the 17th, when in reality the Argentine had made birdie on the penultimate hole. USGA rules at the time stated that the higher score was to stand and the Green Jacket went to Goalby. 

More recently, at the 2003 Open Championship, Mark Roe and Jesper Parnevik found themselves at the centre of a storm having failed to swap cards before their third round at Royal St George's, signing for the wrong scores, resulting in an automatic disqualification for both. It was especially painful for the Englishman - now a regular commentator on Sky Sports - who would have been only two strokes off the lead going into Sunday.

Two years earlier at Royal Lytham, seasoned veteran Ian Woosnam saw his chances of Claret Jug glory squandered after it was found that he had 15 clubs in the bag, one more than the maximum 14, with the Welshman's caddie Miles Byrne making a devastating accounting error. 

All of these mistakes were easily avoidable, but it's hard to beat someone who misses their tee time. It happens every Saturday at golf clubs, but it even occurs on tour. David Lipsky found himself penalised two strokes after failing to be ready for his tee time at the PGA Championship in May. Years earlier, a similar incident happened to Dustin Johnson at the Northern Trust Open, while Rory McIlroy infamously nearly missed his singles match with Keegan Bradley at the 2012 Ryder Cup, after mixing up central and eastern time in the United States, thinking his encounter at Medinah was an hour later. The Northern Irishman was escorted by an unmarked police car to the course and made it with ten minutes to spare. The Miracle at Medinah could have been ended right there.

"It's the most nervous I have ever been driving to a golf course. If I was playing for myself it would be fine – it would be my own fault, " he said. "But if I let down these other 11 boys and vice-captains and the captain and everyone supporting us this week, I would never have forgiven myself. I am just so happy to get the point and help the cause out a bit today.

"I was in a police car, beside a policeman. He was getting through traffic. I got here with about 10 minutes to spare, put my shoes on, couple of putts. Just your average monthly medal back at the course."When I saw the match-up I liked it. I liked that I was playing one of the strongest players – put a point on the board early for the team."

In 2010, Jim Furyk took that a step further by oversleeping and missing his pro-am time at The Barclays. Not the end of the world you may think, but it saw him disqualified from the main tournament, potentially shattering his bid for the FedEx Cup. Fortunately for sleepy Jim, he later won the Tour Championship and claimed the lucrative prize.

And how about this from Craig Stadler, as Golfshake's Derek Clements once explained. "Stadler finished second at the Andy Williams Open in 1987 - or he thought he had, right up until the moment he was informed that he was being disqualified. Why? At the 13th hole during the third round, The Walrus found his ball in a muddy lie under a tree. He decided that the only way he could play the shot was to get down on his knees. He was wearing a pair of light-coloured trousers and didn't want to get them dirty so he placed a towel on the ground and then played his recovery shot. The problem with this is that it infringed the rules because it was classed as building up his stance. He should have been penalised the ubiquitous two shots but signed his card and was disqualified after completing all 72 holes."

Astonishing, really. We can think of countless other daft mistakes that golfers have made. But what is one that stands out to you?

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