Golf is predominantly a mental and personal game: Bobby Jones once described it as “a game that is played on a five inch course – the distance between your ears.”

But for the weekend golfer having a round with their mates, there can be external challenges…

Like when you leave a six-footer short and hear: I think you dropped your lipstick”. 

Perhaps duff one off the tee to cries of: “Not bad out of that lie”.

Or, if you really want to mess with your buddy, ask them pre-swing – “Do you breathe in or out in your backswing?”

Friendly exchanges between opponents – call it light-hearted banter, some good-natured raillery or perhaps a bit of sledging – can spice up even the slowest or dreariest of rounds.

And when the pros put their hands up for a turn, the results can be quite entertaining.

Team events like the Ryder Cup have given berth to a unique hybrid between pub banter and all-out Ashes warfare; almost like a mid pitch conversation between Paul Collingwood and Shane Warne minus the f-words and fat jokes.

Take for instance Scott Hoch – who after beating Lee Westwood and Nick Faldo in the Foursomes at the 1997 Ryder Cup, described the latter as being “as much fun as Saddam Hussein”.

The great Seve Ballesteros once said of the former US captain (albeit with a touch of disdain): “The American team have 11 nice guys … and Paul Azinger.”

But of course, a juicy slice of verbal pie is best enjoyed from the winning side of the ledger. Take Sandy Lyle’s jibe at the boys from the other side of the Atlantic after reducing them to a third straight defeat (and their eighth in 11 years) at the K Club in 2006.

“We’re going to have to start giving the Americans handicap strokes,” Lyle quipped. “This is getting boring.”

Even from the sidelines, sportswriter Dan Jenkins was able to fire off a red and blue tinted barb when he said of the colourful Jesper Parnevik, “The whacko from Sweden in his silly cap and skinny dancer’s pants always looks like the last guy to climb out of the clown car at the circus”.

Social media has given fans unprecedented access to players. By removing the glare of the cameras and microphones, we sometimes get a true taste of their locker-room banter.

In 2010, Ian Poulter invited his Twitter followers to ask him a question. Hours later, he received this reply (with the photo below) from triumphant ’08 American Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger:

“Ian, is it too late to ask a question? I was busy polishing this…”


Poulter’s reply? “I’m so glad you’re cleaning it, we don’t want to lift a dirty one in October.”

When it comes to golden one-liners on the course, there are always those tales passed on over a cold beverage at the 19th green. Like urban legends, the names of the characters are interchangeable. But the punch line remains the same.

One such story involves an amateur at a Pro-Am on the US tour. After hitting a shank during the round, the amateur promptly remarked: “that’s OK, I hit one of those a year so I’m not too worried”.

Next shot: the same result.

As quick as a flash, the pro in the group chirped “well that takes care of next year doesn’t it”.

As for my favourite?

I read a story a few years back involving the great Greg Norman, who was fresh from losing the 1993 Tour Championship to American Jim Gallagher after holding a two-shot lead with three holes to play.

According to Peter Stone’s article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Australian golf legends Peter Senior, Terry Gale, Peter McWhinney and Brian Jones were sitting having breakfast ahead of a tournament in Japan when ‘The Shark’ asked if he could join them.

Jones started flicking at the collar of Norman’s shirt, saying “I just want to see how tight that collar is”. The Shark was less than impressed.

The next day, after the first round of the Taiheiyo Masters, Jones had shot 77 to Norman’s 67. The Shark said to Jones: “You’ll be struggling to make the cut.”

Jones replied: “Don’t worry, if I’m within two shots of you with three to play on Sunday, I’ll be alright.”

What is the best sledge you have heard on a golf course? Share with us your tales (but please, keep them clean).



Fond spectator and student of the game. Always on the look out for a winner. Proud owner of a 'caveman' swing and some of the worst attire ever donned on a golf course.


  • Avatar Matthew Jackson says:

    Love the poor lie off the tee comment not heard that before.
    One good one I did hear was when Billy Foster was giving an after dinner speech and mentioned about the time he caddied for Seve in the Ryder Cup. Apparently on a par three he carved his tee shot into the woods, Olazabal and the Americans were on the green but they didn’t want to wait for Seve to find his ball. Olazabal putted up to a few feet and as Seve had found his ball Seve asked him to finish the putt so Seve could have a go from the woods. One of the Americans said that Olazabal would be on his line so didn’t want them to finish out so Seve played out of the middle of the woods and a terrible lie and as always with the master he holed out from an impossible position for a 2. Seve emerged from the woods, calmly strolled over to the Americans and whispered “How about that for standing on your line”. Safe to say the Europeans won the hole and went on to win the match.

  • Avatar Neil Butler says:

    My 2 favourite sledges are 1) when someone makes a poor putt I’ll say ‘apart from the line & length that was pretty good’ ! 2) when you play for a few quid & beat someone say ‘do you want to set up a direct debit ‘?

  • Avatar Neil Butler says:

    When you know they hit a driver say ‘blimey those 5 woods go well’!

  • Avatar Ron Goudie says:

    Have a few…
    Player leaves any putt short in the middle of the hole, call it a Mexican putt!
    When asked to explain what is a Mexican putt…easy, just one more revolution!

    Once played in a pro am, my amateur partner was struggling with the putts all day,
    After 6 holes of short putts and 2 Mexican comments from me, his pal chimes in
    Don’t worry, there’s a big lump of sh@t on the end of your putter.
    When he lifts it to check…his pal delivers the immortal
    No, no…on the other end!!

    My personal fave though
    Any player hitting into trouble and then asking ‘do you think Ill find it?’
    Son, you could wrap that ball in a bit of bacon and Lassie couldn’t find it!!!

  • Avatar Martin Hollands says:

    Heard several times from fellow players in my golf society of shots I have played…

    “Right Club – Wrong player” :-)

    …and who am I to disagree :-D

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