8 Things Golfers Fear

Fergus Bisset considers a selection of the countless things that elicit feelings of fear and loathing in the average golfer. Can you relate?

Things golfers fear
The dreaded drop
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Golf is a nerve-shattering game in which the vast majority of exponents are almost perpetually on a knife-edge while on, or around a golf course. At any point we could collapse mentally and just the smallest trigger could cause it. Here we look at eight of the things that all golfers fear.

The shank

things golfers fear

Fore Right!
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Paragon of all golfing fears, so perfect in its malevolence, so utterly, utterly ruinous. The shank can strike at any time, it’s like a disease that exists in the body: the immune system can keep it at bay most of the time but occasionally it breaks through the defences and flairs up. One shank, at any time, will send your golfing brain into convulsions. What to do next? How can I avoid it? Will it happen again? On this shot? On the next? Quite simply: It’s not nice.

A four-foot putt on the last

things golfers fear

Doug Sanders of the USA misses a short putt on the 18th to lose his chance of winning the Open in 1970 at St. Andrews.
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‘If I make this, I can go to the bar and enjoy my pint. I’ll chuckle about a few of the mistakes I made out there as they don’t matter now I've holed that final putt. I’ll go home and enjoy the rest of the weekend with the family, I’ll take them for a walk in the park, I’ll buy the kids ice cream, we’ll skip and laugh and all will be well in the world.’ But;

‘If I miss this, I’ll go into the bar and throw down an orange juice and lemonade in stony silence. I’ll mull over all those ridiculous mistakes I made out there and curse my ineptitude as my playing partners have a nice chat about the footy. I’ll go home and stomp around, scolding the children for any perceived indiscretion. I’ll shut myself in a darkened room for the remainder of the weekend and refuse to come out.’

Trouble on both sides

things golfers fear

Trouble to the left of me, trouble to the right of me... here I am...

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Most golf holes afford some sort of bailout. There’s out-of-bounds on the right but a bit of space left, there’s gorse on the left but room to manoeuvre on the right. But occasionally, the golfing gods present you with a horrible scenario – dead on the left, dead on the right. Think of the holes I mean, we all know them. For me, the 9th at Montrose springs to mind – OB right with gorse all up the left. It’s generally into the wind so anything with a bit of cut is up and away off the course. I was once very nearly 11 off the tee on that hole until my playing partner (and opponent) found my first ball at the last moment – one of the greatest displays of sportsmanship ever witnessed. Thanks Gav.

Bunker in the way

things golfers fear

Get over... Please get over...

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You’ve just missed the green but can’t quite tell what sort of a predicament you’ll be in. As you get closer you can see your ball, a bunker, the pin and some very bare-looking ground all in rather close proximity. As you walk up, you’re praying there will be some sort of way to putt it, but by the time you get there your worst fears are confirmed. The ball is directly behind the bunker on hardpan with the pin just feet over the lip of the trap. Locate your nearest brown paper bag and begin the procedure.

Now being in that bunker

things golfers fear

Nice lie.

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Inevitably, you’ve dubbed your chip and it’s plugged in the towering face of the bunker. There’s simply no way you’re getting out of there. The face appears above you like the North Face of the Eiger and even going sideways seems impossible. After multiple hacks, you’ve only succeeded in a spot of sand re-distribution. It’s time to accept what my father has christened a “Rommel” – defeat in the desert.

The senior match

things golfers fear

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You’re taking a trip to visit a course you’ve always wanted to play. It’s a beautiful day and you’re buzzing as you go into the pro-shop to hand over your cash for the green fee. Just after the money has been safely placed in the till, the pro looks up at your smiling faces and issues the crushing news, “might be a little slow today; a senior match has just gone out.” No! Oh please god no.

Prepare for five and a half hours of standing around watching old dodgers stopping for cups of tea, searching forlornly for worn out Pinnacles in knee-high rough, standing on the edge of the green gesticulating backwards as they try to work out whether they’ve just putted out for a 10 or an 11. Get ready for supposedly helpful words like, “We would let you through but there’s no point – it’s jam-packed up ahead,” and “Well, at least it’s a nice day for it.”

Halfway hut closed

things golfers fear

There may be a secret way in down there...

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Having collected seven Stableford points in the first eight holes, the only thing sustaining you is the thought of the halfway hut, a sausage sandwich and some sort of rejuvenating beverage – we all have our favourites. Coming off the ninth green, the hut looks worryingly dark, as you approach the writing on the little sign becomes more distinct “Closed.” You fall to your knees tip your head back and shout to the sky, “God, Why hast thou forsaken me?”

That playing partner

things golfers fear

Would you please be quiet!

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The draw for the Monthly Medal is about to be made, we all know who we don’t want to get. There are a number of reasons someone can be irritating to play a round of golf with. Let's hope you don't have two of them with you in the same group!

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

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?