It’s amazing what a round of golf can do to an otherwise happy relationship. Late night drunkenness, anniversary forgetfulness and other acts of irresponsibility pale into comparison next to the damaging effect of eighteen holes. In fact, you’re more likely to survive an affair with Rebecca Loos than you are an affair with the game of golf. Just ask Colin Montgomerie, who recently announced a separation from his gorgeous blonde wife after 14-years. She said nobody else was involved in the break up. Golf, though, is firmly in the frame as the guilty third party.

It was a problem that was foreseen by the big Scot in his autobiography, The Full Monty, in 2000. “What was happening was, little by little, golf was taking over,” Monty scribed. “I was bringing my golf home and even when I was there, I wasn’t giving as much attention to Eimear and the children as I should have done. I was constantly thinking of something else.”

Other golfers who have gone through divorces include Fred Couples, Nick Faldo and John Daly to name but three and the only reason Tiger Woods isn’t on the list is for the very blunt reason given by his, walrus-look-alike, old man, recently. “Let’s face it, a wife can sometimes be a deterrent to a good game of golf,” said Woods Snr undiplomatically. “I don’t see Tiger marrying before 30. He still has a lot to accomplish in the game. The level he’s at, finite little problems would destroy him.”

However, tell your wife or girlfriend that she’s a ‘finite little problem’ who’s interfering with your golf game and you’ll have to wait for both arms to be reset before swinging a club again. According to the experts, a woman is easily angered by the game because they realise golf isn’t a flirtation, a dalliance or a rushed decision in the heat of the moment. It’s for keeps. A level headed commitment to a sport that absorbs and obsesses from the moment you hit your first sweet drive and know that all the shanks, yips and ear bashings from the missus in the world are worth it.

“It’s true that for many women golf is an ever present third entity in their marriage,” says Liz Bennett, author of The Man Problem and a self-confessed golf widow herself. “And they will go through all the same emotions of a woman who is being cheated on. Jealousy, loss of self-respect, anger and ultimately low self-esteem.”

However, Bennett agrees that if she spent as much time trawling the boutiques on the high street as her man did trawling the rough there wouldn’t be a problem. “Men are more independent,” Bennett admits bravely. “I’ll probably be run out of the sisterhood for saying it but it’s true. Unfortunately, women take any decision you make to spend time away from them as a slight on their feminine wiles and that’s why they get so upset.”

This imbalance can be traced all the way back to our knuckle dragging cousins when stone age woman gave her mate a hard time for wanting to spend all day out hunting sabre-tooth tigers instead of being at home in the cave drawing on the walls.

“Women are genetically pre-disposed to attempt to keep a man monogamous and happy with their company for the protection of themselves and their family,” says consultant psychologist Raymond de Souza, author of The Caveman.

“Genetic programming is hard to reverse and it doesn’t matter now that women don’t have to worry about being stolen by another tribe or the fire going out. If their protector is absent without leave they believe they are failing in their basic function as a female.” So when you actively decide to spend time shaving points off your handicap your partner believes she has failed in some way in her basic duty as a woman and that manifests itself in low self esteem and, as Nick Faldo found out to his cost during his relationship’s breakdown, a nine iron through the windows of his sports car.

So what can you do to keep her happy without having to pawn your Pings on eBay? Here’s the Total Golf guide to handling the frosty reception you will inevitably receive after spending another illicit afternoon with Big Bertha.