Golf is one of the oldest sports in the world. So it’s no surprise it has such a rich history. In this post, we will cover ten golf stories from the good to the bad.
1. Club House Approach Shot
Playing in the English Amateur Championship of 1974 at Moortown Golf Club in Leeds, Nigel Denham's ball bounced off a path and flew through an open door of the clubhouse.
At that time, the clubhouse was not deemed out of bounds, so Denham went to look for his golf ball. It had ricocheted off a wall and into the bar, where it had come to rest under a table.
So he just followed the shouts of the revelers. An idea quickly came to his mind and Denham started contemplating an unusual strategy for his approach shot to the 18th hole.
With numerous clubhouse patrons egging him on, Denham studied the situation and wondered if a shot might be possible.
He moved the table and chairs and saw he could make a swing. He then opened one of the windows overlooking the 18th green and played a delicate chip off the carpet.
His ball zipped through the window, landed on the green, and rolled up to within five feet of the hole. Of course, he holed the putt for a phenomenal par four!
2. One Club, One Hand
Mike Reasor was a 1970s journeyman pro on the PGA Tour who finished in the top five three times but never won a PGA Tour event. But he does have one claim to fame - shooting the highest score ever by a player who made the cut.
He posted a weekend 123-114 (93 over!) at the 1974 Tallahassee Open, only using a 5-iron and swinging one-handed.
Between rounds, he decided to ride a friend's horse. This didn't end well, and at one point, he was thrown off the horse right into a tree, which dislocated his left shoulder, tore rib cartilage, and damaged knee ligaments.
Under any normal circumstance, Reasor would have withdrawn. Still, as a pro struggling to meet expenses, he wasn't about to pass on the paycheck for the week or forgo his exemption the following week.
Back then, all you needed to do was make the cut and finish the tournament.
So, despite the injuries, Reasor insisted on playing the closing rounds to remain eligible for the upcoming Nelson Classic. Sadly, he still ended up missing the tournament due to his injuries.
3. Lightning Strike
By the summer of 1974, Lee Trevino was a champion of four majors and was competing against the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller to be the world's best golfer. However, that changed in 1975. Trevino was playing in the Western Open when he was struck by lightning! A bolt hit Trevino's umbrella, rendering him unconscious.
He suffered burns to his back and legs. In the years that followed, he had to endure multiple surgeries. Despite the interventions, he was permanently weakened by the injuries.
But, he did not quit and continued to play on the PGA Tour. To overcome his loss of power, he relied on his accuracy. This paid off and he went on to win eight more times on the PGA Tour after the lightning strike.
Trevino talked about his harrowing encounter 16 years later at the Senior PGA Championship, which was plagued by lightning strikes, "It was a nice, warm feeling," Trevino said. "Evidently, I was gone. The electricity stopped my heart. When I woke up, I was in pain. The doctor said if I hadn't had such a strong heart, I would be dead."
4. Longest Golf Putt (non-tournament)
Youtube trio, How Ridiculous discovered the golf putt record was 125 yards and decided it would be fun to have a go at breaking it. The world-famous YouTube posse specializes in trick shots and other sports stunt videos and currently has over 6 million subs.
After securing the fourth hole for a whole day at the Point Walter Golf Course, Western Australia, the team got down to action.
The result was a 120.6 m (395 ft 8in) golf putt and a new Guinness world record title for the "longest golf putt non-tournament." After countless tries, Brett Stanford, one of the members, landed this winning shot.
A year later, they earned another Guinness World Record for the highest basketball shot when another team member Derek landed the shot from 201.422 m (660 ft 10 in) above on the Maletsunyane Falls in Lesotho.
5. Alligator Attack
Back in 2017, a Florida golfer made the shot of his life with a putter when he used it to escape an alligator that had grabbed him by the ankle.
Tony Aarts was playing at the Magnolia Landing Golf & Country Club in Fort Myers when he heard a splash as he was approaching the 4th hole.
Later on, he shared the harrowing experience with news reporters, "As I was walking about five to six feet away from the water I heard a splash, and as soon as I heard that splash I knew it was an alligator, and he got me.
I remember having a club in my hand, and as soon as he had me in the water up to my waist, I started hitting him over the head. He was looking at me with his big eyes, and I kept hitting him. And I'm thinking I'm getting deeper and deeper, and I thought you're not gonna get me.
So I started hitting him in the eye socket, I hit him 3 times, and he let go of my foot. so I crawled back up the beach and into the arms of the guys I was playing with."
The horrifying attack landed him in the hospital with multiple puncture wounds. State wildlife officials later came to the scene, captured the alligator and put it down.
Since then, all his mates call him 'Alligator Tony'. Because he used a Cleveland putter to fight off the beast, the company also sent three new custom-made wedges featuring pictures of alligators. A neat reminder of the day.
6. Redemption Story of the Century
Ben Hogan was an American professional golfer who is generally considered one of the greatest players in the game's history. But his life almost came to an end in 1949 when the car he was driving in collided with a Greyhound bus.
Hogan sustained numerous injuries, including a broken collarbone, pelvis and ankle. The accident also crushed one of his ribs.
Many doubted if Hogan would ever walk again, let alone return to his golf career. However, to everyone's shock, Hogan worked his way tirelessly back to good health.
A year later, he was back playing competitive golf on the Tour even though he was weakened and in pain. His crowning achievement was when he won the 1950 U.S. Open, beating the legendary Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio in an 18-hole playoff.
A Few Scandals to Round up Our List
It might surprise you to learn that, despite golf priding itself on class and etiquette, the sport is far from squeaky clean. As we've seen in the past (think: Tiger Woods), pro golf scandals can come out of nowhere.
7. Career Wrecking Tweet
Despite being the President of the PGA of America, Ted Bishop in October 2014 went on Twitter and called golfer Ian Poulter a "Lil girl." As you can imagine, this did not go over well.
In fact, it took less than a day for the PGA of America Board of Directors to vote him out of office.
The PGA also apologized for Bishop's unacceptable and insensitive gender-based statements. "The PGA of America understands the enormous responsibility it has to lead this great game and to enrich lives in our society through golf," said PGA Chief Executive Officer Pete Bevacqua. "We must demand of ourselves that we make golf both welcoming and inclusive to all who want to experience it, and everyone at the PGA of America must lead by example."
8. $90 Million Gambling Losses
John Patrick Daly is an American professional golfer on the PGA Tour popularly known for his non-country club appearance and attitude. From alcohol abuse and infidelity, Daly has been at the center of many controversies most of his career.
But for most people, what might be the most shocking thing about Daly is his gambling problem.
In 2014, Daly revealed that he ran the numbers and determined that his actual gambling losses were $90 million compared to $35 million in gambling wins over the period from 1991-2007.
That's a freakish $55 million loss!
The numbers are so staggering that it shocked even him as he had initially estimated the number to be around $20-$25 million in losses.
It's said that sometimes, he lost more than a million dollars at a time! In 2006, he admitted that after losing a playoff to Tiger Woods, he drove to Las Vegas and gambled away $1.65 million in five hours!
9. Absurd Rules
The scandal involving Lexi Thompson is less about what she did and more about the ridiculousness of some golf rules.
During the final round of the 2017 ANA Inspiration, Lexi Thompson received a four-stroke penalty with six holes to play in the final round of the first women's major of the year for making an incorrect ball placement one day earlier.
As it turns out, a television viewer emailed LPGA officials after noticing Thompson didn't properly replace her ball while putting in the 17th green during the third round.
But thanks to a controversial rule that allows viewers to report infractions, Thompson was hit with a "tournament-altering" penalty. The LPGA did not decide on a penalty until the next day when Thompson already had a three-stroke lead and appeared to be cruising to her second major championship.
On receiving the news, Thompson found herself unable to regain composure to the point where her main competitor South Korean Ryu emerged the winner.
Luckily, rules have subsequently been modified to avoid a repeat of such a scenario.
10. Supreme Court Ruling
After a successful college career at Stanford, Casey Martin, a budding professional golfer, set his eyes on the PGA Tour. But there was one big challenge—a rare vascular disorder called Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome that left him with a dangerously fragile right shinbone.
Throughout his college years, Casey's condition steadily worsened as the circulatory disorder eroded the bones in his right leg.
Eventually, he realized that he could not walk the entire 18 hole golf course. The only way he could make it through a round of golf was to use a golf cart to take him from one shot to the next. Luckily, the NCAA allowed him to use a cart during college tournaments.
But the PGA Tour wasn't so accommodating and would not allow him to use a cart. They refused to change their rule, and Casey was compelled to go to court.
Incredibly, the case of PGA Tour Inc. vs. Martin went all the way to the Supreme Court and was decided in 2001. The verdict: 7-2 in favor of Martin.
In its majority opinion, the Court stated that Martin's need to use the cart did not "fundamentally alter the nature" of the game. As a result, Casey Martin, who started playing golf as a young boy, will go down in history as a civil rights pioneer.