9 Reasons Why Golfers Are Unlucky

Golfers count themselves an unusually unfortunate breed, here are some reasons why.

Reasons Why Golfers Are Unlucky
Reasons Golfers Count Themselves Unlucky
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Golf is a game of skill, physical prowess and strategy, but a little luck sometimes comes in handy. Why do we never seem to get any?

9 Reasons Why Golfers Are Unlucky

The golfer is a uniquely unfortunate individual.

If it weren’t for various pieces of consistent bad luck, many would be scratch players, maybe even professional.

Others from outside the game might not quite appreciate just how luckless the average golfer is – They might point to natural variations or, dare we say it, a lack of skill?

But what do they know?

Yes, golfers count themselves unlucky and here are 9 reasons why.

Why does it always rain on me?

Why does it always rain on me?

You’ve been looking forward to a game of golf all week.

Sitting at your desk, you’ve gazed out at blue skies and dreamed of striped drives and tap-in birdies.

You’re sure you’re on top of your game and, if conditions allow, a course record could be in the offing.

But on Saturday morning you throw open the curtains to be greeted by a biblical deluge.

Six soggy hours later, you’re back in the car park with a nett 84, lamenting an exceptional lack of fortune and pleading with the golfing gods – “Why have you forsaken me? Why does it always rain on me? Didn’t you see me crying on the 17th?

Related: 10 tips for playing golf in the rain

The rub of the green

How did it end up there?

It just doesn’t make sense – Why does it always bounce into the bunker? … Why doesn’t it just hold on to the back of the green rather than just topple off? … Why is it a foot out-of-bounds rather than a foot in bounds? … How has it ended up there? …

It’s because you are so very unlucky.

The non-existent ricochet

A more detailed example of rub of the green:

Why is it that when watching professional golf, even other people playing golf, that a ball headed for disaster so frequently takes a lucky carom off a tree, telegraph wire, bird, spectator, mobile phone tower, rock, wall, lawnmower, out-of-bounds post etc… and ends up safely back in play?

And why is it that this has, literally (using this word correctly), never happened to you?

What’s luck got to do with it? Everything it would seem…

The honeymoon period…

You try a new driver, utility, set of irons or putter and the results appear game-changing.

This will be a new dawn in your golfing life – Only good can come from this piece of equipment.

You re-mortgage the dog to pay for the kit only to find that, when you first take it out in anger, it’s utterly useless and produces totally different results to those you witnessed when testing.

It could be that you’re just an inconsistent golfer… More likely that the kit is different to the demo and you’ve just, once again, been hugely unfortunate.

Unluck of the draw

OK – the competition draw should be up by now… Please don’t let me be down with “that person” …

Oh please I beg you, Lords of the Links, just do me this one solid; not “that person.”

Well thank you very bloody much… Not only “that person” but “that other person” too... Why me?

Defying the law of averages

What about the law of averages?

It just can’t keep happening… I’m hitting good putts that are rolling at the hole yet every single one just narrowly misses.

By the law of averages, surely at least one should have dropped by now. What luck?

The thing is; the law of averages is fighting a losing battle against the laws of physics.

Sleep deprivation

An off-course cause for misfortune – Golfers, more than most, have trouble sleeping.

Whether it’s because of anxiety dreams about not being able to find a level spot to tee it up, or because you’re berating yourself about the missed two-footer today on the 6th, golfers lie in bed at night sweating, convulsing and cursing their bad luck.

Wind problem

Damned wind

How does the wind always do the wrong thing at the wrong time?

When you need it to help, a rogue gust puffs up against.

When you think it’s hard off the left, it dies as soon as you stripe one towards the left edge of the green.

There’s surely some sort of conspiracy going on.

Missing buffer by one

The most unfortunate result in competitive golf.

You’ve battled well all day and have played, oh so nearly, to handicap.

If it wasn’t for that one poor shot on the 7th, or the missed putt on the last, or if CSS hadn’t come down one…

With just the smallest modicum of luck you would have been ok. Unfortunately, you’re the unluckiest person on planet golf.

It’s quite a co-incidence that so are your two playing partners, the rest of the day’s field and the other millions who endure the travails of this wonderful old game on a weekly basis.

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Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He 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 history section of "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?