“Rat farts!” the Bishop cries in Caddyshack, after missing a putt to close his rain-soaked round. We get it; golf is maddening. We’ve all had our moments. Don’t even get us started on the blue streaks we’ve cursed in response to these shots, which earn our nod as the 18 most frustrating in the game
18. THE DOUBLE CROSS
You’ve got all the shots: the butter fade, the power draw. If only you knew which one was coming when.
17. A FLUSHED IRON THAT FLIES THE GREEN
Here’s an interesting fact: on the rare occasion when you catch one on the screws, you can hit a 7-iron 165 yards. Here’s an unfortunate fact: Your ball found an unplayable lie in the junk behind the green.
16. BANANA BALL INTO THE DRIVING RANGE
After smacking a full bucket on the practice range, you deposit your opening tee shot into the very same place. Maybe at some point you’ll find your swing. But we know you’re never going to find that ball.
15. BIRDIE ON 18 AFTER 17 ‘OTHERS’
Nice birdie. That’ll bring you back. Maybe next time you’ll break 110.
14. LIPSTICK ON A PIG
That snaking 60-footer you just drained is, without a doubt, the finest putt of your career. It was also for an 11.
13. LEAVING ONE IN THE BUNKER
That’s annoying: Your ball just settled in a footprint in the trap. And wouldn’t you know it? That footprint is yours.
12. THE POWER LIP-OUT THAT SPINS 10 FEET AWAY
Better than most. BETTER THAN MOST! Oh. Wait. No. You’re still away.
11. AN OPPONENT’S BLADED 4-IRON TO THREE FEET
Einstein probably has a theory of mass and motion that explains why, when you mishit an iron, it skims into the water, and when your opponent does the same, it skips across the hazard, then up onto the green and into tap-in range.
10. PUTTING OFF THE GREEN
We like the stroke you made on that downhill birdie bid, accelerating nicely through the ball. You’ll be glad to know that a similar technique works with chipping, too.
9. LEAVING A PUTT JUST SHORT
The only thing more irritating than leaving a putt “in the jaws” is listening to the commentary it inspires. Really, Einstein? Never up, never in?
8. THE RICOCHET OFF THE FLAGSTICK
Your majestic wedge shot never leaves the stick—that is, until your ball crashes into its target, sending your orb bounding toward the rough. You had visions of a hole-out eagle. Now you’ll be lucky to save par.
7. SKULLING ONE INTO THE CLUBHOUSE
As you trudge up the 18th fairway, you’re keenly aware of the crowd watching you from the veranda, just as they’re keenly aware of the hozzle-rocket that you just sizzled above their heads. You’re not frustrated. You’re humiliated. Which is a lot worse.
6. MAKING A PUTT ON THE SECOND TRY
Having missed a straight six-footer to lose the match, you give Player B a chance and he pours it in the heart. You knew that you could make it. Just not when it counts.
5. BUTCHERING THE SIGNATURE HOLE ON A TOP 100 COURSE
The island-green 17th at TPC Sawgrass, the picturesque par-3 7th at Pebble, the historic par-4 17th Road Hole at the Old Course. You “made the most” of these epic holes, all right—with an 8, 11 and 9.
4. WAITING FOR THE GREEN TO CLEAR, THEN SHANKING
It’s a reachable par-5 and you’ve bombed one down the middle, but it’s taking forever for the green to clear. You wait. And wait, holding up play for a distant crack at glory. Then you hit one sideways. You’re mad at yourself, but here’s the consolation: The players waiting in the group behind you are more furious still.
3. HITTING THE ONE BRANCH THAT WAS IN YOUR WAY
Murphy’s Law: If there’s nothing blocking your path to the green but one spindly, seemingly un-hittable branch, you will hit that branch.
2. HAMMERED DRIVE, FAT WEDGE
The good news is, you’ve followed up the best drive you’ve hit in two years by taking a juicy, Tour-pro-grade divot with your approach. The bad news is, the torn-up turf has traveled farther than the ball.
1. PLAYING THE SMART SHOT POORLY
Let your partners mock you for playing it safe. You can take the ribbing that comes with laying up and making a stress-free par. What’s harder to stand is pulling out a 5-iron and laying sod over the ball.