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I’ve never experienced any serious altercations on the golf course in my five years of playing the game.
golf keep out

I once hit a duck with a golf ball. It toppled over but then righted itself and waddled away.

Another time I came close to throwing a friend into a pond after he laughed at me for embedding my tee shot into the opposite bank. But I stopped myself just short of grabbing onto him.

I often encourage my longer-hitting friends to hit their balls into slower moving groups, but they rarely do. Oftentimes I am reminded that it is not the group in front of us who is slowing play, but a group somewhere ahead of them.

I explain that it’s much easier to hate the people you can see than the people somewhere in the distance.

Last summer a group of older gentlemen told me about how they had been shouted at by a man playing behind them for their speed of play and threatened to hit his ball onto the green unless they moved off the green immediately. They hurried their putts and cleared the green as quickly as possible under a flurry of obscenities.

I advised the gentlemen to take an entirely different approach next time this happens. Whenever I am feeling rushed by a group of golfers behind me, I purposely slow down. Not a lot, but enough to send a signal that regardless of how many times they stick their hands on their hips, wave their arms in frustration or point in my general direction, they have no power over me.

If someone ever yelled at me to hurry up and began swearing at me, my pace would become absolutely glacial. I explained to the gentlemen that no matter what the lunatic behind you decided to do, it’s always win-win situation for you.

If he hits his ball onto the green, the odds of him actually hitting you are minuscule.  If he misses, you can pick up his ball, throw it into a pond, and have him banned from the golf course for life.

Hurrah!

If he hits you, you can have him arrested and sue him.

Hurrah!

Yes, this course of action could result in injury in the event he actually hits you with his ball, but the chances of serious injury are so remote and the benefits are so supremely satisfying that it makes it well worth the risk.

I thought this was excellent advice, and the older gentlemen actually agreed.  They bemoaned their decision to waver and crumble under the onslaught of the man’s threats and obscenities. One of the men actually smacked his head and scolded himself for being “such a goddamn chicken.”

But then I read this story in the Star-Telegram that has caused me to rethink my position entirely:

One man was stabbed with a golf club shaft after a brawl broke out when the threesome he was in tried to play through the group in front of them at a course at Eagle Mountain Lake.

Clay Carpenter, 48, of Springtown said he is recovering from a punctured femoral artery and massive blood loss.

“People get in arguments every day on every golf course in America,” Carpenter said. “But 99.9 percent of the time no one takes it this far.”

Carpenter, who was released from Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital on Sunday, said he might have to have more surgeries and is concerned that he could lose his leg.

I had no idea that you could stab someone with the shaft of a golf club. I’m not entirely sure how one might do this, but it’s good to know.

You never know when you you be facing a golf club-toting lunatic on the eighteenth green and quickly need a weapon.

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