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Have You Ever Been This Angry on The Golf Course

By: | Fri 12 Jan 2024

Anybody who has ever swung a golf club will know how frustrating a game this can be. 

Most of us have thrown a golf club at some point in our lives. When I was about 13 years of age I was playing with my father at Kirkhill Golf Club on the outskirts of Glasgow. I had hit a poor opening drive and left myself in the left rough. I reached for my three wood, topped the ball and, without thinking, turned round and wrapped the club around the nearest tree. 

My horrified father ordered me from the course, telling me he had never been so embarrassed in his entire life (I spent many hours in his company on the golf course so I knew that statement was not true!).

However, it had a profound effect on me, not least the knowledge that I had to save up for a new three wood!

Over the years, I have seen many fellow golfers taking out their frustrations, blaming poor shots on an inanimate object that never asked to be put into their golf bag - and certainly never asked to be smashed against a tree, dug into the ground, hurled through the air or thrown into a pond.

But the good news for us mere mortals is that the world’s top professionals sometimes feel exactly the same way.

Playing at The Sentry on Plantation Course in Hawaii should be a wonderful experience for a proper golfer. Good weather is guaranteed, the fairways are the widest anywhere on the PGA Tour and the prospect of going really low is there for everybody.

But Brendon Todd had one of those days during the final round. He couldn’t find the short and prepared to save his life. The final straw came at the 14th, where he hit a huge slice and looked on in horror as his golf ball disappeared out of bounds. The ball went right, but his driver went left. Big time! The result was a broken shaft and a double bogey.

Todd is in good company.

Perhaps the most notorious golfer of all time when it came to breaking clubs was an American by the name of Tommy Bolt. When you learn that his nickname was “Thunder” Bolt, you will not have to spend too long wondering why. The American routinely finished 18 holes with far fewer clubs in his bag than he had when he stood on the first tee. 

Rory McIlroy

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

Rory McIlroy is not generally known as a club thrower but he famously threw his three iron into the lake at the 2015 WGC Cadillac Championship after a wayward approach. Later, a diver entered the water, retrieved the club and gave it back to Rory. He was fined $25,000 but this was later reduced to $5,000 after he apologised for his petulance in his post-round interview.

One of the most famous club breakers is Ben Crenshaw. The former Masters champion was ironically known as Gentle Ben - he was anything but. During the 1987 Ryder Cup he was playing Eamonn Darcy in the singles and broke his putter in anger at the sixth hole and was forced to putt with his sand wedge and one iron for the rest of the round. He paid the price, losing his match as Europe recorded a first success on American soil.

John Daly is well-known for his ability to press the self-destruct button, and there are many incidents to choose from. I am plumping for the 2015 US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. After finding the water three times at the par three seventh hole, the Wild Thing decided that the time had come for his club to follow.

Henrik Stenson is another serial offender. After a shank at The Open in 2019 he put his iron over his knee and snapped the club in two. He did the same thing at the US PGA Championship in 2021. There was also a spectacular assault on his driver at the BMW Championship in 2013. It is fair to say that Stenson keeps his equipment team busy!

You would be forgiven for expecting Tyrrell Hatton to feature high on this list but despite his best efforts (and there have been many!), he has broken very few clubs as a result of temper tantrums (of which there have also been many). But a wayward approach during the second round of The Open resulted in Hatton taking his foot to a short iron and breaking the shaft in two.

One of the most impressive acts of destruction came from Thomas Pieters during the second round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Struggling to make the cut, he struck a dreadful iron shot - and then wrapped his iron around his neck until the shaft split in two. Ouch!

During the 2022 US Open, Grayson Murray had a spectacular double meltdown. It started when he ran up a double-bogey and threw his putter into the rough - proper rough. His poor caddie was dispatched to find the club. A few holes later, a wayward tee shot at a par three was followed by Murray breaking the offending club over his knee. And all of this at a major!

At the 2016 Honda Classic, Smylie Kaufman failed to live up to his name after hitting his tee shot into the lake at the par-three 15th. As his golf ball hit the water, Kaufman snapped his iron in two with a quick flick across his knee. His playing career did not last much longer and he is now working full-time as an analyst.

Despite being one of the most competitive golfers on the planet, there are few examples of Tiger Woods breaking clubs in anger. But there is one story that is worth re-telling here. During the 2007 Masters, Woods found himself close to the base of a tree after a wayward drive at the 11th hole. He took his four iron, committed to the shot and broke the shaft against the trunk. But he walked away with a par. Two holes later he faced an approach to the par-five 13th and asked caddie Steve Williams what club he needed. With a straight face, Williams replied: “Tiger, it’s a perfect four iron!"

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