The craziest things I've ever seen on a golf course
I recently passed the “500 courses played” milestone. It gave me pause, reflecting upon all the great places I’ve played and all the people I’ve met on the first tee.
Instead of reminiscing about the best courses I’ve played (the lame question I get all the time), what came to mind were the wacky things I’ve witnessed on a golf course. Nothing too wild but still memorable enough to retell with a smile on my face. I’ve seen whiffs, double-hits, hole-in-ones, near-golf cart crashes, stationary balls blown off greens in Ireland, a mulligan ace (my own) and …
• I’ve seen plenty of birdies in my day (mostly from my playing partners), but this one was a shocker. A PGA pro, who shall remain nameless for fear of retribution by PETA, hit a tee shot on the famous South course at Oakland Hills Country Club in Michigan. The Grim Reaper had it in for this poor bird that happened to be flying by. The bird crossed directly into the flight path of the ball just moments after it launched. The explosion of feathers and the horrific thud reminded me of the bird that was destroyed by that Randy Johnson fastball. Gruesome.
• The first hole-in-one I ever witnessed was the least deserved. A Canadian friend took aim at the par-3 13th on the Tribute course at the Otsego Club & Resort in Gaylord in northern Michigan. He bladed an absolute laser that would have been 25 yards over the green, except it hit the top of the flag stick and disappeared. The ball had crawled straight down the pole and into the cup. To add insult to injury, the guy had to leave for home right after the round, skipping out on the post-round beer he owed me.
• There are a handful of club chuckers I recall, but the farthest I ever saw a club fly was last weekend playing at Abbey Springs in Lake Geneva, Wis. Our host who shall also remain nameless was attempting to play in the rain without a golf glove. On the seventh hole, he took a mighty swing, hit the ground first by mistake and lost control of the club. It flew into the woods and probably ended up going farther than the ball. I just thank my lucky stars I wasn’t standing where I normally stand on the tee box. I might have suffered a concussion.
• A buddy of mine (again nameless) and I were enjoying the wonders of the Old course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links in northern California until he hit a tee shot that drilled a tree and screamed back at us 100 miles an hour. It’s the only tee shot I’ve ever seen go backwards. We couldn’t stop laughing. It was classic.
• I covered one of the final Jeff Daniels’ Comedy Golf Jams at The Polo Fields Golf Club in Ann Arbor for Golf Magazine in 2004. The tournament was a fundraiser for The Purple Rose Theatre Co. in Chelsea, still owned by the tournament host. The antics were non-stop: Teeing it up in a bunker, hitting putts with hockey sticks and people screaming during your backswing. I even saw a group playing golf with a sling-shot that flung the ball toward the green. I didn’t think anything could top that day on the weird-o-meter until Daniels told me about the year they offered a hole-in-one to any golfer who played a par-5 naked. Now that would have been a sight to see. Or maybe not.
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