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Golf's Most Embarrassing Moments That Will Make You Cringe

By: | Fri 12 Apr 2024

Golf is a sport that can make us all look very foolish. When all is going well it is a wonderful way to pass four hours or so. But it can and does always find a way to jump up and bite you.

It can embarrass you, it can humiliate you and it can make you look just plain stupid. 

I have searched the Clements archives and come up with a few embarrassing moments, many of which may seem hard to believe. 

This is a mix of events I have witnessed at the highest level, together with some moments of blinding stupidity involving my golf society and my own son.

Check this lot out and prepare to wince...

Jean Van de Velde, The Open, 1999, Carnoustie

The Frenchman came to the final hole at Carnoustie needing only a double-bogey six to win The Open. Unbelievably, he reached for the driver. He hit a wild shot but just about got away with it. He should have pulled out a wedge. Instead he carved a two-iron approach way right, hitting a grandstand before coming to rest in knee-high rough. He hit his third shot into the Barry Burn. He took off his shoes and socks and climbed into the stream but quickly realised it was a non-starter. He took a drop under penalty but still failed to find the green with his fifth, finding a greenside bunker. His sixth shot finished about six feet away. To his credit, Van de Velde holed the putt to force a playoff with Paul Lawrie and Justin Leonard. But his race was run.

Peter Alliss, The Masters, 2004, Augusta National

Alliss was arguably the best commentator of his generation but he screwed up royally at The Masters in 2004. Phil Mickelson came to the final green, holed a putt to win and leapt into the air. Inexplicably, Alliss announced to the watching world that Mickelson would be heading into a playoff with Ernie Els. You what? Alliss did not make many mistakes during his illustrious career but this was a classic boo-boo!

Golf Society, The Essex, 2007

I used to run a golf society. It was a fun thing that nobody was meant to take seriously. We would split into two teams - Old Gits and Young Gits. On the Sunday we would play fourballs, on the Monday we would play singles. At stake was a trophy we called Dave. On the Monday, I was standing on the ninth tee. Ahead of us were four of our group, playing two singles matches. It is fair to say that one of the group was not an especially enthusiastic golfer. It is also fair to say that he had something of a temper. Let’s call him Gordon (not his real name). We looked on as he hit yet another dreadful shot. He was standing several feet away from a large pond. To our utter astonishment, he picked up his golf clubs and threw them into the water and stormed off. He then stopped, turned around, marched back to the edge of the pond, took off his shoes, socks and trousers and waded in. He had realised that his golf bag contained his wallet, car and house keys and mobile phone! It remains both one of the funniest and embarrassing things I have ever witnessed on a golf course.

Golf Society, Stoke by Nayland, 2010

We always used to have a raffle on the Sunday night, the proceeds of which would be donated to a local charity. I had managed to get hold of a set of Cleveland irons. The winning ticket was bought by my son’s best friend. We were standing on the first tee on the Monday morning. Ahead of us was the young man who had won the shiny new golf clubs - and he decided to use them. He hit his drive on the opening hole into trees on the right. He opted to go for the career shot with a five iron - the first time he had used the club - and promptly wrapped it around a tree trunk, breaking the shaft in two!

Stoke by Nayland

Golf Society, Stoke by Nayland, 2010

If you thought the above was embarrassing, there was an incident on the Sunday that ran it a very close second. One of our number - a man who was and is a less than gifted golfer - pulled out an iron. He hit a glorious shank which shot right, hit the frame of his buggy, rebounded and caught one of the members of their foubrall full in the right eye. By the time he reached the clubhouse he was sporting a wonderful black eye and could barely see out of it.

Golf Society, Car Park, Folkestone, 2016

We were travelling to France for a three-day trip and I had instructed everybody to meet at a designated car park. Everybody duly turned up on time. I did a roll call. I checked that everybody had a passport with them. From the back of the group I heard: “Oh s**t!” Unbelievably, one of our number had walked out of his house and left his passport on the kitchen table. We had a good time without him.

Golf Society, France, 2016

Having safely got our cars onto the train and exited in France on the other side, I was sitting in the passenger seat. The driver (we will call him David because that was his name) was happily chatting away to me when I suddenly looked at the road ahead of us and screamed: "David, you are driving on the wrong side of the road," just as an approaching car came towards us, horn honking, lights flashing. Talk about a near miss!

Charity Golf Day, Jersey, 2015

My son is what you would describe as an occasional golfer. He works in the charity sector and his previous employer runs a huge charity day in Jersey every year. My son turned up with no intention of playing when he was informed that the husband of the woman who was the brains behind the day (the mother of Sports Director founder Mike Ashley, no less) had suffered an injury and could not play. My boy was asked to make up the numbers and informed them that a) he didn’t have his clubs with him, and b) he wasn’t much of a golfer. "That’s not a problem. We can sort out some clubs for you." Full of trepidation, he was told that he would be playing with the organiser, a lady of a certain age. He started well enough but then things started to go awry. He duffed a drive and stood over his next shot. The lady was about 50 yards ahead of him. You know what’s coming, don’t you? He thinned it and looked on in absolute horror as his golf ball struck and floored the organiser. Worse than that, his boss was standing on an adjacent tee and witnessed the whole sorry saga. Fortunately, his victim took it all in good spirit, despite ending up with a huge bruise on her right leg!

Security Guard, The Masters, 2019, Augusta National

On his way to winning The Masters, Tiger Woods was hitting his second shot from the wooded area at the 14th hole. After he struck the ball a security guard ran behind him in order to stop oncoming fans from getting too close. Unfortunately, he slipped and took out Woods. Luckily, he was unhurt, saw the funny side and went on to win.

Tiger Woods, The Masters, 2020, Augusta National

The 15-time major champion returned to Augusta as defending champion. Suffice to say, things did not go to plan. During a round of 76, Woods tangled with the par-three 12th, as many have done before. He hit three shots into the water, then found a bunker and finally two-putted for a scarcely believable 10. But Woods being Woods, he then birdied five of his last six holes.

Jordan Spieth, The Masters, 2016, Augusta National

Spieth is another defending Masters champion to come to grief in spectacular fashion. He seemed to be cruising towards a successful title defence until he also fell victim to the treacherous par-three 12th. He hit his tee shot into the water. He took a drop under penalty and then, unbelievably, duffed his next shot, finding the water again. He finally walked off the green after taking seven blows. His race was run and Danny Willett would take advantage to claim the Green Jacket.

Sergio Garcia, The Masters, 2018, August National

Yet another defending champion. And another embarrassing disaster. He came to the par-five 15th hole in the first round and had to lay up with his second shot. His approach hit the green, spun back and finished in the water. He dropped another ball and did the same thing again. And another. And another. Incredibly, the Spaniard found the water five times and signed for a 13, equalling the worst score on a single hole at The Masters.

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