What is it that brings out the worst in some people when they venture out to a golf course in the wild hope of finding an innate, albeit fleeting, sense of excellence in themselves?

"I am decidedly unfriendly during a golf game, from the first hole to the last," tennis star Rafael Nadal was once quoted as saying. He's certainly not alone.

What is perhaps more surprising, as well as reassuring, about Nadal's confession is his brutal honesty because it is often jovially proclaimed that golf ranks only second to income tax in turning people into pathological liars.

The inspiration for this article came from a media report on American president Donald Trump's unbelievable golf round that supposedly never was.


Not even the Honorable DJ Trump, who has reportedly played golf a gob-smacking 175 times since taking office, is exempt from embellishing although the latest report that he had carded 68 during a round in April has been clarified. Someone erroneously had entered figures into the president's account as part of the US Golf Association's handicap service.

Nevertheless, it's worth noting Trump reportedly did enter a 68 in November 2017 on the same platform, only to then delete it without explanation.

He also has been accused several times of not adhering to the proper rules of the game and having a fake handicap (supposedly 1.8), which was outlined reportedly in Rick Reilly's book, Commander in Cheat.

Before anyone boffs it off as a Trumpesque trait, it pays to know one doesn't have to go that high up the people pyramid to find such alleged fibbers who, almost daily, plough through the fairways of a man-made paradise.

For me, a round of golf, any given day, begins with simply turning up to my humble public course, Golflands, in Hastings to harden up against frost or beat the sunset.

Hastings PGA professional Brian Doyle usually sets the mood at the Golflands clubhouse in Hastings with delightful quotes using chalk on a blackboard. Photo / File
Hastings PGA professional Brian Doyle usually sets the mood at the Golflands clubhouse in Hastings with delightful quotes using chalk on a blackboard. Photo / File

While the clubhouse is under renovation, I find Hastings PGA professional Brian Doyle puts me in a the right frame of mind with some of his humorous quotes.

"I found Jesus on the golf course," it read once in chalk on black board. "Well, at least I heard his name several times."

But it's not far fetched to say you quite often find the grim reaper there, too, especially when it becomes a little crowded.


The sound of thudding or swishing balls whizzing a few metres away from someone or other is a more common occurrence than people may like to confess, especially those who lack patience with someone not moving fast enough in front of them.

The unlucky ones end up encountering some old lunatic waving a club and hurling abuse, often while not under the influence of alcohol or recreational drugs. I can understand the temptation to use performance enhancing substances to calm the jangled nerves but it becomes a problem when the users take their frustrations out on others simply there to be in harmony with nature. It's even more embarrassing when the boorish bloke is in your cluster.

Sweeping CCTV cameras at pivotal points come to mind but you tend to perish such thoughts at how that will push the annual subscription through the roof.

Therein lies the fallacy of golf. It indiscriminately offers hackers the freedom to venture into a patch of rough alone, comfortable in the knowledge that only God is watching them play the ball where it lies.

At Golflands, you're allowed a 15cm (six inches) placement throughout the year and it's something Doyle readily reminds golfers to exercise to their advantage because that's what the rule's there for.

However, you come across acts on the course that would make grown-ups cry if they didn't see the funny side.


You know, those who hit errant shots into hedges and trees or recklessly close to the out-of-bounds boundaries but scurry off before two others in the group have teed off. When the others catch up they are put through ludicrous yarns about finding one's ball but common decency often prevents them from grilling the fibber.

Then there's the codger who runs the new two-minute lost-ball routine on others but forgets to time himself or ignores calls to follow suit. That person, miraculously, also tends to find the ball — after dropping another, walking past it before loudly proclaiming, with a grin and arms in the air: "What the heck, it's my lucky day today."

No doubt, you'll have come across those who choke on a putt or duff a shot then angrily blame others for moving or talking but, conveniently, ignore calls to hush when others are playing a shot.

Long-suffering hackers — I'm guilty, too — will hit a bad shot and put themselves through a self-analysis routine to try to convince anyone who cares why they stuffed up.

"I didn't transfer the weight properly from the back foot to the front," is a typical one. "I looked up too quickly after hitting the ball," is another, and so on.

When not succumbing to a fit of outrage, the prudent always take a step back to digest that on most occasions one usually doesn't have a clue why the shots are bad, thus the frustration.


Wallowing in superficial explanations is hardly therapeutic when all that is required is to remind themselves they are there to have fun with other people who aren't obsessed about winning every time they play or having their day ruined with unprovoked arguments.

It's not unusual for miscreants to consult clubhouse pros on the interpretation of rules and even abuse them. Throw money in a round and there's potential for mayhem.

Model girlfriend Jenna Sims will, no doubt, have taken note that there's a time and place for public affection from PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka. Photo / AP
Model girlfriend Jenna Sims will, no doubt, have taken note that there's a time and place for public affection from PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka. Photo / AP

Etiquette is everything in golf and that's why the old school insists on a dress code. In the right company cheating can be funny. In the wrong group, infuriating and embarrassing for all.

You see, it's not the game that's the problem — it's the people. Mercifully, as one would in selecting clubs from the bag, you can choose who to dutifully replace divots with.

Conviviality isn't always a given in a game that teaches life lessons by simply watching others. When you card a cracking hole or round you'll always find drongos who'll remind you they've done better.

For the record, 101st PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka not having time for his model girlfriend, Jena Sims, isn't a sin. He was trying to earn a living so kissing Sims until after the cheque was in the pocket on Monday is simply business acumen.


On the other hand, I'd advise hackers to show a display of public affection to their Wags and Bahs (boyfriends and hubbies) because it can become a costly gesture not to.