These 10 golf quotes made me laugh, feel and changed the way I think

Dustin Johnson was among the year's best quotes.

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Every year, there are subtle changes to the way we talk about golf. Some stay confined to various golf-mad corners of the internet; others make it as far as golf’s television broadcasts or even to the mouths of the players themselves. Below, I’ve compiled a few of my favorites from 2021. This isn’t an attempt to encapsulate everything that happened this golf season. Instead it’s just a collection of words put in particularly satisfying order by a variety of PGA Tour pros and affiliated parties.

THE PHRASES

We’ll begin with a selection of short excerpts, each five words or less, that you can work into your everyday golfing life. Maybe you already have.

1. “The talk amongst the boys”

The full quote here came from Xander Schauffele, who was asked to break down the controversial Patrick Reed non-penalty incident at the Farmers Insurance Open.

“Obviously the talk amongst the boys isn’t great, I guess, but he’s protected by the Tour and that’s all that matters.”

Schauffele later said his words hadn’t come across quite right and that he’d called Reed afterwards to clear the air and clarify the situation. Whatever. All good. All that matters now is a five-word phrase — “the talk amongst the boys” — that I drop naturally into conversation. At first it was ironic. Now it just happens. Jeff undercooked the burgers? The talk amongst the boys isn’t great. Chad’s trying out a new leather jacket? The talk amongst the boys isn’t great. Eddie’s bailing the morning of the tee time, leaving you with seven players instead of eight? The talk amongst the boys isn’t great.

2. “Roll P Reed Roll”

Granted, this one is tougher to slip into non-Patrick Reed-related conversations, but there’s something magical about it.

There’s a deeper story here, of course, namely the fact that this phrase originated from a Reed-affiliated burner Twitter account, @UseGolfFACTS, that regularly throws shade (or worse) at various members of the Tour community. But the phrase itself has served as an incredible sign-off to several of the account’s invectives. Dealing with “rotten people?” Calling others “trolls” and “jealous much?” No worries. Roll P Reed Roll. Feel free to incorporate this any time Reed does anything — positive or negative — in 2022. It just works.

3. “Forgive quickly”

Max Homa is known for his swing roasts on Twitter. He’s known as a good-natured, self-effacing golfer-slash-podcast-host. But in 2021 he won one of the PGA Tour’s marquee events, the Genesis Invitational (and again at the Fortinet Championship) and reminded us that he is an immense talent.

But it was the way he won at the Genesis that was particularly inspiring. Not because it was funny, but because it wasn’t. Homa said he “choked a little bit” when he missed a three-footer for birdie at No. 18, costing him the chance to win outright and forcing a playoff against Tony Finau.

After signing his scorecard but before teeing off, Homa called his wife Lacey. She often sends Max off with bits of advice before his rounds. Sometimes, he says, that advice is “really dumb” or “really random.” It’s almost always out of left field. But on this call, she reminded him of the particularly prescient advice she’d offered him that morning.

“Forgive quickly.”

Homa is naturally hard on himself, like most of us, but he aspires to be golf’s Ted Lasso. He works constantly on practicing relentless positivity. If he’s nervous, he’ll recite things he’s grateful for. If he’s feeling down, he tries to think of happier thoughts. On paper, that sounds like it could make him boring or robotic. In practice, it’s the exact opposite. It makes him human. It worked. He won. And that idea — to forgive yourself quickly — is one we could all learn from.

4. “Making progress”

The story of Tiger Woods is that of making progress. Through success, setbacks, victories, headlines, injuries, surgeries, accidents, swing changes and life changes, one thing has held constant: The quest for progress. A few weeks ago, he surprised us with just how much progress he had made when he posted one four-second video of his swing with that two-word caption: “Making progress.”

He made more progress in the weeks that followed. He hosted several top pros at one tournament, the Hero World Challenge. He competed just two weeks later in another, the PNC Championship, in front of a couple thousand spectators and a couple million viewers at home. Can’t wait to see what progress comes next.

THE FUNNY ONES

5. That damn triangle

After winning his first PGA Tour event at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, Lucas Herbert was asked what he knew about Bermuda entering the week. His answer was deadpan Aussie brilliance.

“There’s a sizable triangle that seems to capture a lot of ships and planes. That’s kind of the extent of my knowledge on Bermuda, I think.”

The honesty was refreshing and the delivery was even better.

6. Money, schmoney

Around the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Cameron Smith was asked what he’d do with $15 million. He didn’t seem to have considered the idea.

“I don’t know. I’m pretty set, to be honest. I’m good. I’m good with what I’ve got. I don’t know what I’d do, to be honest. Maybe some more fishing equipment.”

A cynic might say this is representative of bloated PGA Tour purses and wealthy, coddled players. Not me! I see an aspirational appreciation for the things Smith already has. He’s built himself a good life and now he’s enjoying that life.

Smith has nearly $18 million in career PGA Tour earnings. The idea of the next $15 million? Meh.

7. Coaching?! I’m good.

At the PGA Championship, Jason Dufner was asked if he’d considered becoming a golf coach, given his knowledge of the swing and his Tour experience. His answer was about as emphatic as you’ll get from Duf.

“These guys are psychopaths, man. No. Never. First off, there’s no money in it, and second off, dealing with Tour players in a nightmare. You don’t want to be part of it. That’s just fact. Ask any of the teachers.”

I have nothing to add.

THE INSPIRING ONES

8. “Who cares about reality? Somebody sitting at home.”

This summer, Padraig Harrington was asked if he thought he could realistically win another major. Sure, it’s a longshot — Harrington is now 50 years old and won his most recent major in 2008 — but he finished T4 at the PGA Championship, rekindling his belief.

Padraig Harrington and Sam Forgan on the first tee at the Open Championship.
Padraig Harrington had the perfect description of good vs. great golfers
By: Dylan Dethier

“Oh, I dream of it. Who cares about reality? Somebody sitting at home. But what gets me up in the morning is another major. Sometimes, maybe I should be considering the stepping stones to another major and just competing well and finishing top-10, making cuts, even, and progressing that way. But that really doesn’t do it for me. The chance of winning a major is everything.”

Dream always, gang. What’s a better alternative?

9. “Being me is enough”

Coming off his win at the CJ Cup, Rory McIlroy gave one of the more striking interviews of the PGA Tour season. Context is everything, and in this case McIlroy was coming off a challenging, emotional Ryder Cup, dealing with questions about his future and trying to navigate changes in his swing and in the coaches who would advise him on that swing. Instead he returned to a form of essentialism: Being himself.

“I think for the last few months I was maybe trying to be someone else to try to get better and I sort of realized that being me is enough and being me, I can do things like this. I know that when I do the things that I do well, this is what I’m capable of. I’m capable of winning a lot of events on the PGA Tour and being the best player in the world.”

Being the best version of yourself might not bag you a PGA Tour win. But it might help you do something better, and it might help ease your mind in the process. That’s worth it.

THE DUSTIN JOHNSON ONES

I want to be clear: This is not some ironic appreciation of Johnson nor a veiled swipe at his intelligence. This is admiration of his clarity of thought and his unparalleled ability to ignore anything that doesn’t matter.

Asked in March about his favorite shot from the Players:

“Well, Tiger’s putt, because they play it every five seconds…just wait a minute and it’ll be on again.”

Asked in April how he played his last time at the Valspar:

“I don’t remember. I don’t think I played poorly, I just didn’t play very good.”

Johnson was then informed he didn’t make a birdie that day.

“Well, obviously didn’t putt very well.”

Asked in June whether one stretch of iron play was his best in a long time:

“I don’t know. I just hit shots — wherever it goes, it goes.”

Asked about the specs of his new putter:

“I don’t even know what it’s called. It’s TaylorMade.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Rickie Fowler comparing his golf game to a dirt bike:

“In my terms it would be like I’m trying to kickstart a dirt bike and just sitting there kicking. Every once in a while, kind of fire up, get going, get a few revs. I’ll keep kicking, she’s bound to start.”

Louis Oosthuizen on the farm life:

“I’m always on the tractor, don’t worry. I don’t need to play good or bad to be on the tractor.”

Joel Dahmen on playing with Phil Mickelson:

“We got into some dopamine talk, frontal lobe and dopamine, and then the units of it, which I was actually impressed with…Then he hit a 6-iron to three feet, so he must have had his dopamine correct on that one.”

Charles Barkley, watching Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau talk about putting:

“Could you imagine being in a car with these two guys on a long trip?”

Drive on, quotable golfers. See you next year.

dylan dethier

Dylan Dethier

Golf.com Editor

Dylan Dethier is a senior writer for GOLF Magazine/GOLF.com. The Williamstown, Mass. native joined GOLF in 2017 after two years scuffling on the mini-tours. Dethier is a 2014 graduate of Williams College, where he majored in English, and he’s the author of 18 in America, which details the year he spent as an 18-year-old living from his car and playing a round of golf in every state.