At one time or another, every golfer becomes what Bobby Jones described as “a dogged victim of inexorable fate.” But certain moments leave us more victimized than others. In that uplifting spirit, we give you this list. It’s our ranking of the 13 most demoralizing shots in the game.
1. The Hero-to-Zero Fairway Wood
It’s a reachable par-five, in theory, anyway, so you wait … and wait … for the green to clear, peeving off the group behind you while putting added pressure on yourself. Sure enough, you top it roughly eight feet ahead of you, the only good news being that the green is also reachable from there.
2. The De-Greener
Did you just putt it off the green? Don’t feel bad. Tiger Woods once did the same thing in the Masters. All that’s left for you to do is win 14 majors, and you and he will practically be twins.
3. The New York Super Fudge Chunk
On the one hand, the world’s best players also take divots with their irons. On the other, their divots don’t fly farther than the ball.
4. The Hosel Rocket
Call it what you will. The shank. The foozle. By any name, it’s a word you’d rather not speak aloud, and an experience you now fear you are doomed to repeat.
5. The Bold Effort
In a moment as rare as the Comet Kahoutek, you’ve got 15 feet for eagle, but you leave it 5 feet short. Not to worry. You’ll get another chance the next time the comet comes around.
6. The Lawrence of Arabia Short Game Clinic
Weight forward. Club face open. Feet left of the target. You tried to play the shot like Gary Player. Too bad it caught the bunker lip and rolled back in a footprint. Peter O’Toole had more fun in the sand.
7. The Harrison Ford
When you blade a simple chip, it becomes a runner. Blade. Runner. Get it? It’s funny when it happens to someone else.
8. The Egregious Mis-Club
Look at you posing after flushing your approach shot, hands high, tummy pointing toward the target, your eyes tracking the ball in its majestic flight as it beelines for the flagstick, only to land beyond it. In a pond behind the green.
9. The Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda Been A Gimme Putt
It should have been conceded, but it wasn’t. Silently disgruntled, simmering with resentment, you step up to tap it in and … doph! … It wasn’t a gimme, after all.
10. Here, Topper! Come here, boy!
They say that golf is like life, and it really is. Every round, like every day, begins with renewed hope. Until you top one off the first tee.
11. The Flopped Shot
Phil Mickelson makes those high, feathery shots look so easy. But big deal. That thing that you just did, passing your wedge directly under the ball without budging it an inch, that’s pretty tough to pull off, too.
12. The Player B Water Ball
Having just dunked an old, scruffy ball into the water, you pull out a brand new ProV1 and … do exactly the same thing.
13. The Not-So Great Escape
Trees are 90 percent air. Which makes it all the more impressive that you just hit the other 10 percent, dead center off the trunk, a ricochet that whizzes past your ear and leaves you even deeper in the woods.