The gap between the elite and recreational player has never been wider yet golf retains its unique ability to both elevate the duffer and humiliate the champion in almost equal measure.
In no other sport can the professional be humbled so completely and so quickly while the hapless amateur is only ever one lucky bounce away from unearned glory.
Former Players Championship winner Si Woo Kim was on the wrong end of fate this past weekend as he stumbled his way to a horrible 13 at TPC Southwind’s par-3 11th hole during the WGC event in Memphis.
Kim splashed five consecutive balls before eventually finding the island green with his 11th shot and two putting.
That’s 10 shots gone in a single hole. From a golfer who became the youngest in history to win the game’s ‘fifth major’ just four years ago.
"In no other sport can the professional be humbled so completely and so quickly while the hapless amateur is only ever one lucky bounce away from unearned glory." - Rod Morri.
Such ineptitude would be almost unthinkable in any other sport but in golf it was merely
a stark reminder that indignity is not reserved for us mere mortals alone.
The likes of Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Sergio Garcia, and – of course – John Daly are just some of the best-known names on the list of pros to notch double digits on a single hole.
Woods’s worst career score came just nine months ago at the November Masters when he found water three times at Augusta National’s 12th on his way to a 10.
For Greg Norman it was stubbornness as much as anything which saw him rack up a 12 on the par-5 14th at The Lakes in Sydney during his own tournament in 1999.
The Shark looked on in disbelief as he dumped three balls in the water, seemingly incapable of processing what was happening.
Ironically for Garcia it was the opposite problem that ruined his day at the 2018 Masters.
Four times the Spaniard struck his approach with a wedge TOO sweetly and spun the ball back into the water at August’s par-5 15th.
The end result was a 13 he seemed reluctant to accept, telling reporters afterwards:
“I feel like it’s the first time in my career where I made a 13 without missing a shot.”
It’s testament to the cruel nature of golf that while embarrassing the best it can just as easily uplift even the worst of us.
"Ultimately the game evens everything out, of course, and while us hopeless hackers quickly return to our rightful level of mediocrity our professional friends climb back on their pedestals."
Who among us hasn’t witnessed an outrageous bounce or other form of good fortune bestowed upon a playing partner or ourselves?
I distinctly recall once watching a complete novice, at the urging of her boyfriend, hole a 3-wood from about 100 yards courtesy of a ricochet from a tree.
The swing more resembled wood cutting than golf, the strike was thin and the flight barely got more than six feet off the ground but the ball shot hard to the right, caught a nearby tree at just the right angle to skew back towards the green, rolled between two bunkers and dropped into the hole.
Similarly, I was robbed of several dollars’ worth of skins some years ago when a friend bladed a 9-iron on a par-3 that hit the pin square on at warp speed yet somehow dived into the hole.
Ultimately the game evens everything out, of course, and while us hopeless hackers quickly return to our rightful level of mediocrity our professional friends climb back on their pedestals.
While my ace making friend’s celebration was short lived courtesy of a double bogey at his next there were no such shenanigans for Si Woo Kim. He birdied the 12th (and 15, 16 and 17 as well).
I guess that’s why they’re pros.