Urban Legends and the Game of G.O.L.F.

These days, there is no escape from the urban legend, and the game of golf is no exception. Dubious stories from sand traps and fairways around the world are high in supply and often, of questionable credibility.

You’ve probably heard the legend that the word “golf” is an acronym, created by the Scots at St. Andrews centuries ago, that means, “G.entlemen O.nly, L.adies F.orbidden.” Does it really? Well, women did have had some problems getting onto the course and into the clubhouse there for a very long time…. And that Par stands for “Professional Average Round” True or not? More believable than if “professional” had been replaced by “hacker”

While word origins will be debated fore the next centuries, Snopes.com (the online urban-legend clearinghouse) dismisses the G.O.L.F. acronym theory as patently false. Take a look at their collection of popular “did you know” lists that circulated around the Internet as far back as 1997.

Other popular urban legends surrounding the game include stories about everything from angry golfers fishing car keys out of bags they chucked in the lake to hungry crocodiles devouring hapless players on the links.

But just as with life beyond the game of golf, truth is often stranger than fiction. Consider these two urban legends about golf:

  • In 1994, a 16-year old New Yorker, whacked a bench with his 3-wood in anger after an errant shot. He was killed when the shaft of the club split in half, rebounded off the bench, and stabbed him straight through the heart. (Source: Snopes.com). Temper, temper….
  • According to UrbanLegendsOnline.com, a Navy Lieutenant died in 1982 because of an allergic reaction to a chemical fungicide that he inadvertently ingested while chewing on a golf tee. Sounds a lot like stories about sitting on toilet seats in public bathrooms, but this one apparently, is true.

Reports like these ones are easily verifiable with a few quick clicks around the Internet, but some of the best urban legends surrounding the game of golf are told in person.

One story involved a rookie caddy who was carrying a doctor’s bag. The good doctor was standing over a 25-foot birdie putt when the novice caddy noticed another golfer’s approach shot flying toward the green. Not knowing whether or not to interrupt Doc’s birdie putt, the caddy kept quiet, shifting his eyes back and forth between his player on the green and the rapidly descending ball overhead.

Doc made his stroke, and just as the ball drained into the hole, the approach shot landed on the green behind him. In his excitement, the doctor celebrated with a karate-style high kick that moved his leg out of the way in the nick of time to avoid the oncoming shot flying from in the fairway. As the Doc reveled in his moment, he watched in amazement at this second ball, which he had not seen until it hit the green, landed right into the hole behind his own birdie-winning ball.

Another urban legend? We’ll let you decide.

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Nick Busey October 15, 2010

Great article… if you like urban legends and sports, have a look at the top 10 sports urban legends. I still can’t believe Dock Ellis’ No-No Trip. lol. I’ve never heard of anything like that with golf. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/422649-top-10-greatest-urban-legends-in-sports#page/5

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Olivier October 15, 2010

Nick, that’s one phat video. Back in the 70’s the pros knew how to have fun . They certainly could take a few extra “hits” and remain completely oblivious of their genius. I wonder if there are any similar stories back in the 70s with some of the golf pros then.

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Tommy Priest October 18, 2010

Great video, Nick. When you get a good golf story – let us know!

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