NCG's Golf glossary: What is a stymie?

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Word: Stymie


What I think it means: I literally haven’t a clue. Isn’t a stymie something you get in the corner of your eye?

OK, I’m thinking it means to stop something. It sounds like it’s something along the lines of ‘stemming the flow’, but I haven’t any idea how that might apply to golf.

This one’s baffled me.

Dictionary definition: (On a putting green) an instance of a ball’s lying on a direct line between the cup and the ball of an opponent about to putt.

What this actually means: I’m sorry, but I’d have never guessed that.

OK, so your mate is on the green in two, he’s got a chance for birdie and he’s lining up the shot. There’s 360 degrees around that hole where your approach shot could end up, but no, your ball, as though through some magical alignment of the golfing cosmos, has nestled in an exact line between his ball and the hole. How awkward. And it’s not like the hole opens up and reveals some ancient Aztec treasure as reward. No, you’re just in your mate’s way so mark your ball and try not to stand on his line.

Origins: I’m told the word originated as a golf term in 1857, but its origins are likely to be earlier, from the Scottish term for a “person who sees poorly”.

Use in a sentence: No one has EVER used the word ‘stymie’ in a sentence. But if they had, the conversation would go something like this:

“Oh no, you’ve stymied me.”

“I’ve what?”

“You’re in my way.”

“Well why didn’t you just say that?”

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