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The Art of Golf Excuses: Inside the Golfer's Playbook

Updated: Apr 28

two golfers putting on No. 13 green at Black Bear Ridge Golf Resort
Black Bear Ridge Golf Resort, No. 13 Green (photo by author)

Having golfed with a great many other golfers over the years, I have heard a plethora of excuses for carding a sub-standard score. I must confess, I have used many of them myself.

Sometimes I jokingly poll the three friends that I am teeing it up with. While standing on No. 1 Tee, I will ask, "Do any of you have any injuries or ailments that you would like to declare before the match?" We all get a good chuckle out of that.

The gang that I play with has fun regardless of whether we play well or poorly. Don’t get me wrong, we all want to play well and shoot a low score. But we keep the game in perspective and don’t let a high score ruin a great day out on the golf course with friends.

Here Are The Top Ten Excuses Used By Golfers to Justify a High Score

No. 1: Weather Conditions

Blaming wind, rain, or extreme temperatures.

This excuse is very valid, especially when used on people who were not golfing with you that day.

To help justify that high score, you can increase the wind speed a bit or turn light rain into a heavy downfall if needed to justify that 98.

Temperature is a good one too. It was too hot, I got dehydrated out there and lost my focus and energy. It was too cold. The ball wasn’t going anywhere. I was so cold I could hardly swing my club.

No. 2: Equipment Issues

Faulting clubs, balls, or other gear for poor performance.

I completely agree with this excuse. I am still searching for a ball that will go straight. With my defective balls, a perfect shot ends up in the woods for no reason at all.

My clubs are all mismatched and old. Regular flex on some, stiff flex on others. I would play much better if I had new clubs. Once I get the “operator error” issues sorted out, I'll worry about the new set of clubs.

And wouldn’t that new driver you have been dreaming about help your game and perhaps save you a stroke or two? My golf instructor, Ben Graham, at Black Bear Ridge Golf Resort let me hit his brand new Callaway Paradym Triple-Diamond driver during one of my lessons last season and I hit some great drives with it. Now I want that driver in the worst way.

No. 3: Course Conditions

Complaining about the state of the course, such as uneven tee decks, bad sand in the traps, or the general state of the fairways.

Golf courses play very differently depending on whether it is wet or dry. My friends and I usually play it down, meaning that we don’t move the ball unless there is a root or rock close to the ball. Nobody wants to injure a wrist or break a club.

In the early or late part of the season, or after heavy rain, we play lift clean & place. This allows you to give yourself a better lie on the fairway.

Some of my buddies roll their ball, meaning, they move it around a bit to get a better lie. That is fine when playing with your buddies but rolling your ball in a tournament or other competition will cost you a two-stroke penalty.

No. 4: Distractions

Citing distractions from other players, spectators, or external noises.

This is a funny one. Some golfers are not phased by anything. At the other end of the spectrum, some golfers feel distracted if they hear a squirrel chewing a nut in a tree two fairways away.

In my group, we usually have music playing in our carts. Not loud music. Once I get about twenty feet from my cart, I can't hear my music at all.

One of my favourite albums that I like to play while golfing is Crash by the Dave Matthews Band. Unfortunately, the title of the album, Crash, is very appropriate on some golf holes.

No. 5: Health Concerns

Mentioning physical discomfort or minor injuries affecting their game.

I believe that none of the friends I regularly golf with are free of some sort of ache or pain. Some golf bags are equipped with Tylonol or ASA, which we refer to as “exercise in a bottle”.

As a senior golfer, health concerns are top of mind. I can confirm, after observing one playing partner, that two knee replacements will get you an extra twenty yards off the tee.

Not sure about new hips though. I should know soon. One of my other friends will be starting the 2024 season with a replacement hip. He was deep off the tee with two bad hips. Who knows how much deeper his replacement hip will get him?

No. 6: Unlucky Bounces

Attributing poor shots to bad luck or unfortunate bounces.

How many times has that perfect shot, flying straight for the green, fallen two feet short, and rolled back into a deep greenside bunker? Some days you can’t buy a shot. On other days, the bounces all go your way.

I’ve also seen great drives take very unlucky bounces and end up in a water hazard. That sucks.

No. 7: Inconsistent Swing

Blaming inconsistencies in swing mechanics.

This is the trademark of my game, inconsistent swing. I have seen my swing on video. It is ugly. I am not sure if I am fly fishing or golfing. Either way, I kind of look like I got kicked by a horse and then stung by a bee halfway through my swing.

I watch PGA golf on TV whenever I can. Some have quick swings while others have very smooth swings. Take Lucas Glover, for instance, check out his swing. It looks so easy. So smooth. Why is a great swing like that so difficult to emulate?

I am pretty sure that I could write a story entitled “One Hundred Reasons Why My Swing Will Never Look Like Lucas Glover’s and have spare reasons left over after the first one hundred.

No. 8: Mental Focus

Acknowledging a lack of concentration or focus during the game.

How many times have you stood over a putt and, rather than being focused on getting the ball in the hole, you started thinking to yourself, What am I laying? Is this putt for a par or a bogie? Chances are, if that is what was in your head during your putt, you probably ended up with a double.

A lack of mental focus is a huge contributor to high scores for many golfers. When I golf alone, I usually score lower. Not because I cheat, but because I have no distractions.

Check out my story entitled The Mental Game of Golf: 5 Tips for Success.

In that story, I talk about some of the mental aspects of playing golf.

No. 9: Not Enough Practice / Warm-Up

Claiming insufficient practice or preparation.

This excuse covers the vast majority of recreational golfers. So what, it’s not like we are going to lose our PGA Tour Card or anything. We’re out there to have fun.

Don’t you just love those guys who can fly into the parking lot 5 minutes before tee time, rush to get ready, and proceed to kick your ass in a round of 18?

Meanwhile, you arrived at the course one hour before tee time, stretched, hit some balls on the range, practiced chipping and putting, and ended up batting the ball all over the place during your round. Life just isn't fair sometimes.

No.10: Incorrect Yardage Markers

Blaming yardage markers at a golf course for being in the wrong place.

You hit a perfect drive, centre of the fairway, next to the 150-yard marker. You then hit your 150-yard club and your ball ends up 20 yards short. Who’s fault is that? Not yours, you hit that thing perfectly. The maintenance staff of course. They put that 150-yard marker in the wrong place.

Remember, yardage markers on the tee blocks, on the sprinkler heads, and at the 100,150, and 200-yard markers are measured to the centre of the green, not the pin.

There is No Excuse For Not Enjoying The Great Game of Golf

These excuses are lighthearted and often used in good fun among golfers. It’s important to remember that golf is a challenging game, and even professionals have off days.

Interested in a Golf Trip to This Region With Your Friends?

Please visit the The Hungry Golfer homepage and subscribe to our newsletter. We will be writing about great places to play, stay and eat at, in the Bay of Quinte and Prince Edward County region.

Stay Safe, Stay Well, and Have Fun!

Tip of the Day: The fastest cart gets the best lie.

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