A round of golf is often a rollercoaster oif emotions, good and bad. Can you hang on your medal round and complete a fine score? Or maybe a grotty round full of gloom and doom is about to be transformed and remembered for evermore for that hole in one you are about to make.
But there are some phrases that will almost bring comfort to a golfer...
"It’s winter rules"
You have hit a superb drive right down the middle and when you get to your ball you find it nestled down into a divot. Your next shot has just become harder than you expected. Then your opponent remarks: “by the way, it’s winter rules” and you realise you can lift and replace your ball. Oh joy.
"You had a shot there"
You walk off the green having missed a four-footer for what you believed to be a half. When you announce the score on the next tee your opponent believes it to be one better in your favour. After a bit of investigative work the truth comes out about the previous hole, “You had a shot there.”
"That's a gimme"
We all hate those tricky short shots - they should go in, they almost always go in, but sometimes they darn well don’t. You know it’s highly miss-able. So when your opponent lets you off this shot by awarding a gimme it is hard not to show a slight touch of relief. Instead you can pretend you are are Tony Jacklin and your opponent is Jack Nicklaus and you have just tied the Ryder Cup.
"You’re still in"
You’ve carved one so far right that it’s heading for a different postcode. There’s no point in watching the end of its flight as it’s destined for a point so far out of bounds that it doesn’t appear on modern maps. You’re rooting in your bag for a “provisional” when you’re playing partner halts you in your tracks. “You’re still in.” What?
After you had turned away your ball struck a lorry on a dual carriageway two fields over and rebounded towards the course. Halfway back, with energy fading, it was caught on a freak geyser eruption and propelled back within the bounds of the course. Well, you make your own luck.
"I’ll pick you up"
You’re off for a full day’s golfing with friends. It’s going to be great – 36 holes at a top course and your significant other is away, giving you a completely free pass. The only problem is, how are you going to fully enjoy yourself without a few bevvies pre, between and post rounds? You’re considering bus routes, taxis even a very long walk and then the call comes in, “I’ll pick you up.” Yes, it truly is a beautiful life.
When else are you going to hear these words unless you’re very high powered or you’ve done something a bit silly? There’s just something about your playing partner or opponent saying anything this deferential that gives you a warm glow.
"Here it is"
You have been looking for the ball for what you hope is still under three minutes and you are resigning yourself to a long walk back to replay the last shot. This is always particularly embarrassing if there is a group behind yours.
For some reason, that you are trudging down the fairway in the wrong direction causes those behind you to demand “what are you doing”, just to compound your agony. What the flipping heck do they think you are doing – taking an invisible dog for a walk?
It should be obvious that you are having to replay the last shot as you have just lost your ball. But now you have to shout that fact across a fairway.
So the joyous news that not only have you saved an extra stroke going on your score you thought you were about to incur, but you have avoided the walk of shame, makes this one of the most magical things you can say to someone on a golf course.
"I’ve picked up"
You reach your ball at the greenside and it’s in a distinctly minty situation on the back edge of a bunker, in a horribly sandy lie. You’re suffering palpitations at the prospect of the next shot and are considering putting away backwards just to avoid taking it on. Meanwhile your opponent is out of sight down a slope, possibly in a bunker himself. After sometime he emerges, ball in hand. “I’ve picked up – it’s your hole.” … “Oh bad luck.”
"It’s a free drop"
You’re under a small tree with no chance of getting a full shot at it. In fact, you’ll need to pull off a display of contortionism just to chip out sideways. But wait, what’s that stuck to the other side of the young trunk? Oh could it, yes could it just possibly be? A stake, oh man it’s a stake that I see, and that stake must mean that my drop will be free!
"The course is open"
For all the heartache and suffering that the game causes, most golfers are eternal optimists. They truly believe that their next game might be different; it could be the one. But with rain lashing down all through the night, surely the course will be closed; 'I’m going to be denied my chance to post the round of my life.' At 8am a tentative phone call goes into the pro shop... 'Is it, I don’t suppose it’s?' Yes, “the course is open.”
Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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