Two GM regulars find themselves at different ends of the argument
Debate: Is It Okay To Lose Your Temper On The Golf Course?
Fergus Bisset says: Yes
I had to be on this side of the argument to avoid hypocrisy. My temper has been lost and frantically scooped up on so many golf courses, there’s very little of it left to misplace.
I can tell you from experience, there are degrees of temper loss and there’s a distinct boundary between where it’s acceptable and where it isn’t. That line comes at the point where it affects other people.
It’s not okay to throw your club into a tree and delay your group as you attempt to retrieve it; it’s not okay to damage something that doesn’t belong to you; it’s not okay to hurl abuse at high volume across the fairways; and it’s not okay to go into a prolonged sulk that means your playing partner has nobody to speak to for six holes.
“Tiger had a rule that after a poor shot he had ten yards in which to berate himself before moving on”
But, golf is clearly a maddeningly frustrating sport and, for many, keeping emotions pent up will only lead to further distress. We are all human and an exasperating occurrence should always be addressed. Marriages that fail are often the ones in which the couple conceal frustration rather than having the occasional blow out.
To lose one’s temper when things go awry is natural and, for a good deal of golfers, this frustration must be released rather than confined. Tiger Woods used to have a rule (which I’m not sure he always stuck to) that after a poor shot or a poor hole he had ten yards in which to berate himself before forgetting it and moving on. A short, sharp discharge of anger will offend nobody as long as the language is moderated.
Get it out of your system as quickly and discreetly as possible and your marriage with golf will survive.
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Jezz Ellwood says: No
In recent years we’ve witnessed Rory, Sergio and others hurl clubs into lakes, while a decade ago 2016’s Champion Golfer, Henrik Stenson, made rather less glorious Open headlines when he demolished a tee marker at Carnoustie. The instant reaction to such behaviour – on tour and at club level – is often one of condemnation, and the longer I’ve played, the more I tend to agree.
“Let he who is without sin…” of course, and I’m certainly not whiter than white. But I learned my lesson three decades ago, since when I’ve never committed another ‘full body turn’ club throw! My Road to Damascus moment came at Haverfordwest GC, when a fluffed chip prompted me to send the offending club spiralling through the air… but sadly over a wall and into a 33,000-volt electricity sub-station. The engineer dispatched to retrieve the club was distinctly unamused and I went away suitably chastened and embarrassed.
“Four hours is a long time to spend walking on eggshells, not knowing how to react or what to say”
The problem with ‘losing it’ on the course is that it’s simply too embarrassing, uncomfortable and occasionally dangerous for those sharing the fairways with you. Some would argue that one massive flare-up has a liberating effect, but I’ve rarely found that to be so. For the volcano-like golfer, the very next miscue or stroke of bad luck invariably provokes exactly the same eruption.
Even the coolest of golfers must, at times, fight an almost irresistible urge to hurl either club or obscenity. But next time you’re on the brink, spare a thought for your companions. Four hours is a long time to spend walking on eggshells, not knowing how to react. What right do you really have to ruin their day by such thoughtless actions?
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