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Face it, when your golf game goes to hell, sometimes nothin' or nobody can help you.
Face it, when your golf game goes to hell, sometimes nothin' or nobody can help you. (Courtesy Bob Smith)

When you're playing truly bad golf, even Jesus can't help you

Tim McDonaldBy Tim McDonald,

This is the ultimate story for BadGolfer.com, though there ain't a damn thing funny about it.

I'm playing bad. Even my grammar is bad. I think it should be, "I'm playing badly."

Who the hell cares? When you're playing bad golf, things like grammar, love, sex, and the meaning of life mean nothing. Less than nothing.

When your golf swing has gone to hell, you're grouchy, rude and often incontinent. You hate everything and everybody. I hate you right now, even though I've never met you. I'm sure if I met you, I'd hate you.

"I think the hardest thing about this sport is you're out there by yourself. If you get it going sideways, bad, the only one to bail you out is yourself. When you're playing great, it's a great game. When you're playing bad, it's a lonely world out there."

- Tiger Woods

My golf world is lonely right now because I'm continually cursing and screwing up my face into an unsightly contortion, like a Maori war mask. Good behavior, for me right now, is sulking and bottling up my hatred for life inside. You don't want to be my partner.

It's the driver. The driver has always been the best club in my bag, the only club I could depend on. I hit it long and straight, with a slight draw.

I mean to say: I used to hit it long and straight, with a slight draw. Now, I hit it short and stupid with a hook the size of the Florida Panhandle.

Playing bad is bad enough, but when it comes on the direct heels of an extended period of playing good - or is it "playing well"? - ah hell, anyway it makes it worse.

"Whenever you're playing well, you just try to ride it out, and when you're playing bad, you just try to ride it out. That's the funny thing about this game is that you're going to have your good spurts and you're going to have your bad spurts."

- Sean O'Hair

Sean O'Hair is an idiot. I don't want to ride this out. It's already lasted longer than the Pleistocene era. I have to fix this thing. It's killing me.

"Everybody thinks they know everything when you're playing bad. They're trying to help you out, but at the end of the day it just does you harm, really."

- Derek Gillespie, Canadian pro

Ain't that the truth. Derek Gillespie is one of the few people I don't hate right now, though I don't particularly like him.

Everybody's got a tip. Sometimes, I ask for help, when my ego has shrunk to the size of a field pea and my desperation is written all over me like a garish tattoo.

Other tips come unbidden. My colleague Brandon Tucker told me I was playing the ball too far back in my stance. This was right after I had moved the ball further back in my stance in the forlorn belief it might help.

I moved it up. It didn't help. I hate Brandon Tucker. Especially since he played so good. So well.

Another guy, from New Jersey wouldn't you know, gave me a tip, I forget what it was, but it was stupid and even though it was stupid I tried it and not only did it not work, it made it worse. I gave him the silent treatment and he made a lame apology, which prevented me from killing both he and his wife on the spot.

Other guys, other tips. More hooks. I think at one point even a woman gave me a tip, that's how low I've sunk. More murderous fantasies involving decapitation and illegal confinement.

I know, I know, hooks usually come from coming at the ball too far from the inside. You think I don't know that? You think I'm some kind of retard? I've started the clubhead so far outside I almost whack myself in the ankle on my follow-through.

Good Lord, I've even tried back issues of Golf Digest and the Internet, looking for something - anything - that might give me a semblance of a clue. I tried all the guys with big names, like David Leadbetter, Jim McLean and that crowd, but they're mostly just craven profiteers trying to sell some kind of idiotic and expensive swing aid, and it just further enrages me.

My golf life is lonely right now. I know this is something I must solve on my own. This is a quest. Only I can do it, not Brandon Tucker, David Leadbetter or Jesus Our Savior.

I'm going to interrupt this story right now, go out to the driving range and try to fix this once and for all. If I do, you'll read about it in the next paragraph. If I don't, the next paragraph will be blank, which means I will have committed suicide or a felony, one.

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment

    Nicole Setty wrote on: Jul 19, 2017

    Still having trouble with your swing ? Hopefully not 10 years later , but if you are and know of others who are , find a Brainspotting practioner.... it's a tool that works with the visual field - e-mail me for more info : nkoukou@gmail.com


  • Funniest Golf Stories Ever

    JOhnPly68@yahoo.com wrote on: Jul 10, 2016

    Man, I am crying right now from laughing so hard. That is probably the funniest thing I have read in a long time...and totally describes my game. My truck window was busted out today by a thief, and they left my golf clubs in the back seat. I was halfway disappointed, because now I have to go golfing tomorrow and those clubs won't do my any good! I've been playing for 22 years and I'm the worst I've ever been right now. At 35 yrs. old that seems ridiculous, but I feel your pain...


  • I've got a good bbbrain

    Richard C wrote on: Jul 3, 2016

    Thank you Tim, I don't know if I hate everybody at the golf course like I hate everybody at work. However you have touched on something that is my deepest fear. Maybe I am a retard and have been in denial my whole life, Hell I thought everyone ate paste in school and licked glass once or twice in their lives, by the way you ever noticed how cool and smooth it is? Anyway. The person I hate the most is this guy name Richard! Thanks again for letting me know I am not alone in "my struggle's". Wait! isn't that the name of a book written by a mad man?


  • misogyny won't solve your problem

    Tiny Shepherdess wrote on: Oct 27, 2014

    "I think at one point even a woman gave me a tip, that's how low I've sunk."
    That is pretty harsh. Like women don't have any good ideas about the golf swing? God I hate jerks like you out on the golf course. You deserve what's happening to you. May the drives of a thousand women pelt you with pink precepts.


  • you made me laugh but I hate you even more now

    Paul wrote on: Oct 15, 2013

    I have started playing again this last month after 12 years of living a nice easy going life. But now I find the woods are the size of rugby balls and my old 3 wood looks daft, I hate you golf for that.
    I then find that the rules have changed and I can cheat when I score a 9 because this is now a 7, what happened to the R&A scoring every shot. If I want to score a 15 ( only 2 putts ) then you have to wait until I finish, so I hate golf for that too.
    Then my 2 wood stops working and I go to my 3I for a few holes and then to my 4 iron and then start to play a 5 iron challenge because I hate golf and its a stupid game.
    Then I put the last of the new balls into the lake and you know what, golf is stupid and I don't want to play again
    I hate every single golfer even the ones that are worse than me because at least I not that stupid to really think I can get better
    And last is the pro that gave me a lesson and compared my swing with Luke Donald. What a stupid man he was. I am more like John Daly in size but with a 35 handicap, so dumb. He then said there are too many things wrong with my swing, that because I am a 35 handicapper, I hate him a lot


  • bad golf

    kathie westlund wrote on: Feb 12, 2013

    I was looking for help with my bad play in tourneys and I found just how I feel about my game, but only in tourneys. At least I can go back to just playing for "fun"(whatever that means). In my case, no pressure and I play fine. Thanks for your writing because I don't feel so alone.


  • Why bad golfers play bad golf

    Lou wrote on: Dec 2, 2009

    1. They try to kill the ball.
    2. They got the wrong gear and it doesn't fit. 1-3-5 woods and 3-SW aint for everyone. I carry 1-5-9 woods, 31-35-38 hybrids, PW-SW-LW-XW, P and am a 12 handicap (I suck at driving just as bad as someone who can't break 100).
    3. They spend too much time at the driving range and not enough time at the practice greens. A 300 yard drive is OK but taking 6 strokes from less than 100 yards negates it.
    4. They use the wrong clubs. Ya aren't going to hit a 3 wood off a dirt clod. Take a 6 iron and a PW instead.
    5. They take the game too seriously.


      • RE: Why bad golfers play bad golf

        Lou wrote on: Dec 2, 2009

        I used a 3 wood or 5 wood off the tees for ages. It is just 3 years ago that I decided to try a driver out (I played very little between 1977 and 2006). I didn't go buy the latest $500 driver, either. I picked up a Ping G2 for $75, made the shaft 44"; although I hit it straight and somewhat consistent, I prefer a 5 wood because I can knock it 220 yards down the fairway ALL THE TIME. Not 190 up in the air or 250 with a low trajectory.


  • Bad Golf

    kevin wrote on: Oct 13, 2009

    I think everyone suffers through this. I was looking for some inspiration since I am in 4-6 week slump.
    I do believe I have heard players should slow down their swing, check their grip, alignment and play through tough times.
    It is not fun, believe me, i know right now.


      • RE: Bad Golf

        Lou wrote on: Dec 2, 2009

        Slow is good. The reason a 120 lb woman can outdrive a 220 lb hacker is because he tries to kill the darn thing. Even I had my moment.... had a case of shankitis with my irons so bad that I tossed my 7-9 irons and went to a 38 hybrid. The root problem is the textbook 90 degree backswing. When I went to a more compact backswing, I started hitting the 7-9 irons again; I prefer the 38 deg hybrid because it is a lot less work


  • Playing badly

    Wyomick wrote on: Oct 30, 2007

    It all starts with the grip. Harvey Penick said he could help a bad golfer with a good grip, but couldn't improve a good golfer with a bad grip. Start there; get it out of the palm, pressure with the fingers, etc....


      • RE: Playing badly

        Lou wrote on: Dec 2, 2009

        Look at Don Trahan's videos... dispels the myth of a textbook golf swing (the 90 degree shoulder turn). "Palm down, palm up" for the left arm WORKS (the wrist cock on the backswing comes natural); got this from allexperts.com


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