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The Strangest Things You Will Ever See on The Golf Course

By: | Mon 25 Mar 2024

This is a funny old sport. Just when you think you have seen it all it has this habit of shocking, amusing and surprising us.

I have played and followed golf most of my life and have been involved on a professional level for many years. And I have seen some pretty strange sights. Here are just a few of them.


Oh dear! What is it about club golfers and their fashion sense? The professionals are bad enough, but club players take it to a different level. Don’t get me wrong - there is nothing wrong with wearing bright clothes. But trousers that are almost luminous and come in every colour of the rainbow (sometimes all together)? I know otherwise sensible men who turn up at the golf club wearing outfits they wouldn’t otherwise be seen dead in. And I have just one question - why?

Golf Fashion

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

Americans at St Andrews

You can always tell an American on the Old Course at St Andrews. He will have a caddie, he will be wearing tartan trousers, a tartan hat or cap - and he will be hacking his way around the most famous links on the planet. Actually, that pretty much sums up American golfers on just about any championship golf course. They are a strange breed indeed!

High Handicappers’ Golf Swings

Oh dear Part II! I have seen it all. I have seen the guy who stands over the ball for an eternity, unable to move. There is the golfer who swings the club so hard that he almost ends up face down on the ground. There are the players who should be urged to slow their swing to a blur. There is a guy who climbs into a bunker with absolutely no chance of ever being able to get the ball out. There is the backswing that doesn’t reach halfway. There is the golfer who seems to lose a ball on every single hole - how on earth can he afford to play golf?

The Everlasting Golf Ball

My late father was a typical Scot. Let’s just say that he was careful with his money. He did not hit the golf ball terribly far and he did not miss many fairways. And that meant he did not lose many golf balls. Now there is one thing of which I am absolutely certain - after using a golf ball for 18 holes and hitting it 90+ times, that ball is going to be past its best. So after using it for 10 rounds it is utterly useless. And where it started off life all white and shiny, it is now grey! I have an admission to make - if ever he missed the fairway with a battered old golf ball, if I found it I would pocket it in order to force him to dig into his bag for something we could actually identify as a golf ball.

The Ball Retrievers

The above yarn reminds me of one of my favourite golf stories. When my father passed away we had his wake at the golf club. There was a par three over water and it was a hole he struggled to play properly. I could count on one hand the number of times he was able to carry the ball over the pond to the putting surface - he used to play round the edge of it. As part of his wake, we took all the balls from his golf bag and a number of us went to that hole and struck them into the water. As we were walking back to the clubhouse somebody said: “Derek, look…” As we turned round, there were two elderly golfers fishing the same balls out of the water!

Temper Tantrums

I used to work with a chap we will call Steve. He was one of the most mild-mannered individuals I have ever known. In a stressful working environment he was somebody you always wanted on your side because he took everything in his stride. He had a beautiful golf swing but for reasons that I was never quite able to fathom he was a dreadful player. All would be well as he hacked his way around the course. But there would always be a shot somewhere in the round that would send him over the edge. And it was something to behold. The club would be hammered into the ground, a torrent of abuse would pour from his mouth. He would then pick up the offending club, put it back in the bag and walk off as if nothing had ever happened.

Costantino Rocca

Rocca is a former Ryder Cup player, a multiple tournament winner and a man who very nearly won The Open at St Andrews. I was following him at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. He was going along nicely and I was standing behind him on a par four. He pulled out his driver - and hit a stone-cold top. It was one of those “did that just happen?” moments. But it did, and I was there to see it.

Costantino Rocca, Part II

I am sticking with the Italian. And this time it is THAT Open at St Andrews in 1995. Rocca came to the 72nd hole needing a birdie to force a playoff with John Daly, and I was standing to the left side of the 18th green, adjacent to where his drive finished. He actually had a pretty straightforward chip. But to my utter disbelief, he completely duffed it, hitting the turf inches before the ball. His race was run. Except that it wasn’t. He reached for his putter and hit the ball. Off it went, trundling through the Valley of Sin. On and on it went - until it disappeared into the cup. Rocca dropped down and beat the ground with his fist in delight. It was an incredible moment - and one of the strangest incidents I ever witnessed. Sadly, by the time he got to the playoff he was utterly spent. Daly’s victory was a formality.

Snake Encounter

I was playing golf in California. If you have ever visited that part of the world, you will know how wonderful the climate is - and the courses are magnificent. I was with a friend who had moved to San Diego with dreams of making it as a professional golfer. My dreams have always simply been to achieve adequate golfer status. Anyway, I hit a drive that ended up in the rough to the left. I went in search of my golf ball, located it and was reaching for a club when I looked down - and there staring back at me was a snake. I have never moved so quickly in my entire life. I then realised there were signs all around the course telling players not to look for golf balls in the rough because that was the domain of the local snake population!

Who Can’t Count?

On another occasion I was playing golf in Florida and turned up on my own. In America they don’t like golfers playing on their own so I was partnered with a local pair, a father and son, who informed me that they played off nine and 11 respectively. I took one look at their golf swings and immediately doubted the voracity of what they had told me. These were the golf swings of 20+ handicappers. I soon worked out why they were off nine and 11. At the second hole, one of these players took six shots and told his Dad, with a straight face: “That’s a four.” A couple of holes later, the other golfer kicked the ball out of the rough into the fairway, didn’t like the lie so picked it up and placed it, hacked his way down the fairway. “Five…” And so it continued for 18 holes. I have never before or since witnessed anything quite like it.

The Strangest Hole in One

I was playing with a friend at Rushmere Golf Club in Ipswich. He had been hacking it all over the place. We came to the eighth, a par three. He caught the top of the ball and it shot off like a rocket, all the way along the ground. It somehow managed to reach the green but we could not quite see where it had finished. When we reached the putting surface it was nowhere to be seen. We both thought it must have rolled through the back. But still we couldn’t find it. “Peter, have you looked in the hole, mate?” I asked. “Don’t be so stupid.” But guess what? There it was, nestling in the bottom of the cup. I played the hole perfectly but had to settle for a three. Bitter? Not a bit of it!

Melbourne Nightmare

I didn’t see this one but I know it happened because the man who did it told me…a national newspaper tennis correspondent was in Melbourne to cover the Australian Open tennis tournament. He had a bit of time on his hands and was invited to play Royal Melbourne, which is one of the most exclusive golf clubs in the world. He didn’t have his own clubs with him so borrowed a set. His opening drive came off the toe of the club, went straight right - and ended up in the clubhouse!

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