Shitty Golf Shots And The Appropriate Reaction

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Nice Move

During the second round of the 2015 Cadillac Championship at the TPC Blue Monster course at Doral, Rory McIlroy was staring down a 222-yard approach over water on the 8th hole. He chose 3-iron. He pulled it. It went into the water. Then Rory tossed his club in anger. It flew about 30 yards into the drink.

It was an appropriate reaction.

During the 1997 Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head, Woody Austin left an uphill 30-footer about 12 feet short. In frustration, he relentlessly and therapeutically beat himself over his skull with the shaft of his putter. Five powerful whacks over the head didn’t knock him unconscious, but it did mean the end of his putter.

It was an appropriate reaction.

You don’t leave a putt like that 12 feet short as a professional without it taking a serious toll on your psyche — not if you care anyway. That’s golf. It’s a mentally delicate game that you love and hate simultaneously. From the highest of highs, confident and free-swinging, to feeling like you never want to pick up a club again, an unstable hack, from one hole to the next. It can happen at any moment. And it does.

For every club stuck in a tree, snapped over a knee, or heaved across a fairway, it was the appropriate reaction to whichever preceding shot it corresponds with. I have bent the shaft of my putter from slamming it into the ground. I’ve chucked clubs, tossed balls, cussed myself out, flipped off totally innocent people in the group behind me, and generally made an ass of myself. All justified.

It’s just a tiny fucking white ball with dimples that is sitting stationary on an advantageous surface. Why does this game have to be so damn difficult?

During the 1996 AT&T Invitational at the Swaneset Bay Resort and Country Club, Happy Gilmore missed a two-foot putt with an oversized custom hockey stick putter. In sheer anger, Gilmore got on all fours and yelled at his golf ball, encouraging it to go to its “home” (in the hole) next time. He then stood up, still enraged, and instructed the ball to suck his “white ass.”

At this moment, seething with anger, he grabbed the pin from the unsuspecting caddie of his pairing partner, took two steps to gain momentum, and he heaved it like a javelin with deadly velocity, nearly piercing the torso of an ESPN camera operator, which would have almost definitely led to the end of his life and aggravated manslaughter charges for Mr. Gilmore. Thankfully, the pin missed him and fell harmlessly to earth.

Mr. Gilmore didn’t stop there, however. While circling his golf ball like an agitated prize fighter ready to destroy his opponent, Gilmore proclaimed, while pointing at the ball with his hockey stick putter, “You’re fucking with the wrong motherfucker!” preceding an extended episode of more egregious cussing, yelling, and what we’re left to assume was a series of minor to severe verbal and physical assaults on ESPN staff members, caddies, and bystanding spectators.

It was an appropriate reaction.

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