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Rory McIlroy

Is it ever OK to throw a golf club?

Get it all out there or keep it locked inside? Steve Carroll looks at whether you should ever let your frustrations get the better of you out on the course

 

I’ve known a few people who could best be described as temperamental. As the shots got wilder, the clubs went flying. It wasn’t a matter of if, but when.

If I’d played enough with them, I’d be used to it. The moment was a split second of rage before being instantly forgotten. But it turned some otherwise very pleasant people into a real-life Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

It was much more disconcerting for anyone who didn’t know what was coming – or didn’t care for the distraction.

The one that really sticks out in my mind is when a player, after a wild approach to a green, sent his 7-iron soaring high and long into a group of bushes.

His playing partners spent more time looking for the club than the ball. The third member of our group decided it was all a bit beyond the pale and, to be honest, I’d pretty much lost my patience too.

I’ve seen people do all sorts of things in the wake of a less than perfect strike. There have been clubs that bent and broke, umbrellas smashed in fury into bins, even trolleys dismantled.

Look, we’re all human and when we’re not having the day we expected, or hoped for, it’s only natural to let off a little bit of steam. We’re not robots.

But when does a strop become too much? When is the line crossed? When does golf etiquette become bad golf etiquette? Is it ever really OK to throw a golf club on the course?

The Rules of Golf don’t really come to the rescue. Slamming a club into the ground, damaging it, throwing it towards a bag only for it to hit someone – these kinds of irritants are classed as misconduct but are unlikely to be serious.

So, unless you’ve done it on purpose, you probably won’t get disqualified for chucking a club unless it spears someone in the side of the head.

Your club committees can do something about it in a Code of Conduct, but even the repeat offenders are going to have to get pretty regularly out of order for even that to make a difference.

throw a golf club

So what can we do? Is just hoping people won’t sulk enough? A one-off should be treated as such, as I said we’re not machines, but it really isn’t acceptable to throw your clubs – even if it is out of anger or frustration.

You could injure someone, or damage the course, and you’ll quickly become a figure of fun at the club and, perhaps, someone that everyone stays away from.

Easy to say, in the heat of battle, that it’s only a game. But if you’re the sort that just can’t stop performing the Highland Fling with your driver after an errant tee shot, perhaps it’s just time to accept you’d probably be better off doing something else with your time.

Are you prone to a spot of bad etiquette on the golf course? Should there be sanctions for players who throw a golf club? Tweet me and let me know your experiences.

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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