annoying golf phrases

The annoying things golfers say on the course

A lot of golf’s etiquette is common sense but then, as Steve Carroll often finds out, you find yourselves dealing with this lot

They say golf is good for the soul, and good for the mind too.

I can attest to how true that is, but that’s not to say there aren’t things that happen on the course that make my blood boil – and probably yours too.

Here are my top four phrases that golfers say during a round that have me tearing what’s left of my hair out…

Annoying golf phrases

‘We’re in a match’

annoying golf phrases

This is the golfing equivalent of the ‘Collect as you pass go’ square in Monopoly. It apparently gives anyone who utters these sacred four words carte blanche to do whatever they want on the course – and woe betide if you try to stop them.

Getting ready to tee off? ‘We’re in a match’.

Held up by the group in front? ‘We’re in a match’.

Are they cutting in for sudden death holes? Yes, you’ve guessed it.


Whatever your club’s local rules might say about priority on the course in competitions, it really is the height of arrogance to just palm players out of the way in a dismissive fashion on the grounds your round of golf is somehow more important than theirs.

You might think your winter knockout preliminary clash is the final round of a major. No one else does.

Have a bit of respect and you’ll probably be given first go. Act like an entitled fool and you can wait in line.

You’ve got no standing on the course’

annoying golf phrases

I used to think this was an urban myth but, if you go back long enough, there was a point when single players were pond life.

If you were unlucky to be without some pals, or you just fancied a bit of me time out on the course, you could often find yourself in a tricky spot.

“A single player has no standing and should give way to a match of any kind,” was the firm and unambiguous way the rule book put it.

Know your place singletons. It’s your own fault for not having any friends.

The 2004 Rules of Golf – which caused a little less controversy than this current set of revisions – got rid of this ludicrous state of affairs.

But, as with all things in this game, old habits die hard.

It may well be 15 years since this stipulation bit the dust but come racing up on the backs of a curmudgeonly group and you’ll still hear it spouted.

All it needs is a bit of common sense all round. If you’re a single out for a stroll try not to be hitting up the ankles of the fourball in front and you’ll probably avoid a confrontation.

And if you’re vastly outnumbering the player behind, just let them through. Why on earth would you want someone pressing on your spine all the way round?

Please, though, let’s consign the ‘standing’ noun to where it belongs – the golfing dustbin of history.

‘You can’t go anywhere’

annoying golf phrases

This actually happened to my group a couple of weeks ago. We were right on the tails of a fourball who were trailing just under a hole behind – and you couldn’t make this up – a match.

In fact, combine this with ‘you’ve got no standing’ and you’ve got the perfect storm of club golf idiocy.

It was uncomfortable for all unconcerned. We tried hard to stay out of the way but were still pressing and they had something resembling claustrophobia any time they lined up a shot or putt.

There’s usually someone who wants to have an inquest in the clubhouse afterwards and the upshot of why a wave to pass wasn’t forthcoming was that, in their solemn opinion, there wasn’t anywhere for us to go.

We would only get stuck in front of them in the congestion of the course and, therefore, there could be no question of stepping aside.

I’m sorry but who made you the traffic police?

The Rules say this about priority on the course – it’s “determined by a group’s pace of play”.

If you’re holding people up, let them through. Then the group in front can do the same if the issue repeats. It’s all very simple, but clearly far too complicated for a lot of players.

‘I’m sorry if we held you up’

This is even worse than ‘you can’t go anywhere’. Here, there is the full realisation you were causing a delay in play but had no compunction to do anything about it when it actually counted.

So to clear the conscience comes a lame half apology, which is really translated as: “I’m not sorry at all but you look pretty cross and I’d really rather avoid getting a pint chucked over me”.

If you feel the need to trot this out, save your breath. It will be as welcome as watching your endless practice swings.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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