Cursing and golf: Just like love and marriage, horse and carriage

Even GottaGoGolf’s best player, Michelle Smith, has her moments of potty mouth. Here, she takes a look at the love affair between cursing and golf. 

Image of cursing and golfIsn’t golf supposed to be a tranquil walk in the park amid lush fairways and babbling streams, each hole culminating on a beautifully manicured green with a putt that rolls truer than your BFF’s promise to keep your most intimate secrets? Then why the heck can a golf round gone bad bring out the potty mouth in some so-called lady golfers?


I’ll admit that my own ability to contain those choice expletives wanes after a second failed attempt to extricate my ball from a bunker. And speaking of bunkers, how does a golf course architect know exactly where I’m going to slice my ball off the tee anyway? Ever notice the strategic location of each and every sand trap, whether within striking distance of a blocked tee shot, directly on line with your attempt at a safe layup, or on a collision course with your approach shot?

But, I digress. The point is, despite the bucolic surroundings, it’s easy to abdicate any sense of serenity on a golf course when you’re dealing with the aftermath of another shot gone wild. The other day I was playing in a foursome of gals at a course in Arizona. We teed off from the second set of tees, which meant an occasional lengthy carry over an arroyo. One player, a grandmother in her late 60s, sports a handicap in the mid teens and is adept at keeping her ball in play. Though not a particularly long hitter, Grandma Jane welcomes a challenge. However, on the fifth tee, she came up short on a long carry and followed up her wayward shot with a resounding @#!


Now, I giggled because I had never heard Grandma use such language. Apparently, I hadn’t played enough rounds with her, because a few holes later, when she sailed her ball into a fairway bunker (she hates bunkers), she let the F-bomb fly. I chuckled again because I hadn’t reconciled the contradistinction of the gentle, nurturing, grandmotherly type with language more likely heard from the scruffy, beer-guzzling, phlegm-heaving type. Nevertheless, I attempted to defuse Grandma Jane’s angst and was thankful that she didn’t advise me on the appropriate orifice into which to shove my 9-iron.

Myself, I’m pretty judicious with the use of profanity, at least when in the company of others. But I have to admit that if I believe I’m out of earshot, all bets are off.


I remember a few years back when I, too, found myself facing yet another confidence-bending bunker shot. You know the scenario — ball tucked under the front lip, sure to blind me in my dominant eye if the shot came sailing backward. Try as I might, I couldn’t put a good swing on the darn thing and ended up embedding my ball in the bunker face.

Believing that my playing companions were busy tending to their own disobedient shots, I spontaneously let an expletive fly. When I backed off to prepare myself for the next attempt at extraction, I noticed that two of my companions were standing behind the bunker, sizing up the reason for my delay. It was clear that they had heard my little outburst but deemed it prudent not to offer condolences.


If golf can frustrate us to the Nth degree, why do we keep coming back for more? I say it’s because of those moments of brilliance that are akin to pulses of opium coursing through our veins. It’s because we somehow convince ourselves that when our long-lost majestic swing finally reappears on the 17th or 18th hole of a horrific round — just in time to entice us back for another — we really can score better if only the good twin shows up. And since she didn’t show up for this round, the odds are decent that she’ll be there next time. Some view the use of expletives as an effective and efficient method to let off steam and collect oneself for the next shot.

So is the moral of the story that, in dealing with the ravages of an errant shot, Grandma Jane really does know best? One thing I know for sure, I plan to golf well into my 60s and 70s, and bunkers are here to stay.

–Michelle Smith

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