Irritating Golf Professionals: Temper, Temper!


A professional golfer is as much an entertainer as a player these days. They often earn megabucks and receive adulation from their fans. However, there are some that just rub spectators up the wrong way. Whether it’s arrogance, cheating accusations or the way they treat their caddy.

Here are some of the players that the fans (and in some cases, I) love to hate.

Ian Poulter

His public persona has to be one of the most irritating of anyone currently playing professional golf. Behind-the-scenes he may be a wonderful person but pretty much everything about his demeanor irritates me and many other spectators!

To succeed in professional sports you obviously have to be supremely confident in your ability but having confidence in oneself is one thing being cocky is another.

Clearly, the man has tremendous self-belief having gone from selling Mars bars in the pro shop at Leighton Buzzard to the upper echelons of the world game but I’m not sure I could put up with him for 18 holes.

No doubt his performances in the Ryder Cup have given American fans more cause to dislike him! Particularly in singles matches.

I have a feeling that Sir Nick Faldo might have been referring to Poulter when he expressed amazement at players having only modest success were now able to create their own clothing lines!

Bubba Watson

On the one hand, he appears to be a devout Christian but from what I read also uses a fair amount of profanity on the golf course. I’m certainly no angel when it comes to the use of an expletive both on and off the golf course however I do try to pick my moments (usually when I’m on my own). I’m pretty sure if I was playing in front of spectators I could manage to keep any oaths to myself!

He’s also been known to treat his caddy like dirt and while he’s not alone in that respect in there really any need? 

The other thing that annoys me with Bubba is he just seems really “twitchy”. Just watching him on TV irritates me and I think having to put up with that from a playing partner would be too much to me.

Given that he is regularly among the most “disliked” players on the tour as voted by his peers I’m clearly not alone in my thinking.

In an ESPN poll, his name came up often when 103 pros were surveyed about who they were least likely to help in the event a fight broke out in the car park.

Jason Day

You may be surprised to see the Antipodean featured in this list. To be fair I can’t think of too many occasions where he has done irritating things apart from playing too slowly!

The speed of the professional game, in general, is one of the things I find most irritating about watching the sport. Sometimes taking over five hours for a round of golf is absolutely ridiculous!

But Jason “takes all” Day is one of the worst offenders certainly amongst the players at the very top of the game. Bryson DeChambeau is another of the tour tortoises although he has made efforts to speed up along with Kevin Na. 

Tyrrell Hatton

A little bit in the Ian Poulter mold, I think. Shows flashes of genuine anger when things aren’t going his way. Throwing his clubs, using clubs to hit other pieces of equipment, sarcastic gestures and comments. He’s even managed to whack his bag at Augusta after putting his ball in the water on 11. I would have thought he might manage to keep his temper in check that week given it’s an invitational!

It’s actually a shame to see some of his behavior on the course because in some of his interviews he does come across as a decent sort of chap with a great sense of humor as the video below shows.

Temper, temper!

Patrick Reed

Didn’t think too carefully about the microphones that might be pointed in his direction when coming out with a profane homophobic slur after missing a putt. In addition to winding up a number of his fellow PGA Tour players he also managed to rile players on his University team as well!

Another whose arrogance would probably be far too irritating if you are playing with him.

Pat Perez

A “gentleman” renowned for his bad temper. Has been known to snap clubs over his knee and was taken to task by his own father for his use of profanity at the 2011 Reno-Tahoe Open. It really isn’t a great spectacle when one of these overpaid, pampered millionaires has a temper tantrum because they missed a green or a fairway!

Vijay Singh

Cheating accusations followed Vijay during the early part of his career and that certainly turned a certain section of the viewing public against him. Throw in the controversy surrounding his use of deer antler spray and his cold on-course demeanor and is not a surprise that he didn’t have legions of fans.

In fact, many might remember the fact that he filed a lawsuit against the PGA Tour over his ban for using the spray which at the time was on the World Anti-Doping Agencies list of banned substances. Although this was later removed and Vijay’s ban rescinded no doubt many fans still do not look kindly on the big Fijian.

Rory Sabatini

in a Sports Illustrated survey, 1/4 of pros listed the South African now Slovakian as their least favorite playing partner. He’s had several run-ins with players on the course such as Sean O’Hair and Vijay Singh along with shouting at a volunteer who was helping him find his ball because he thought the volunteer had moved it.

Bryson DeChambeau

Everyone’s favorite punching bag for the last few seasons. His slow play is probably what irritates his fellow professionals the most although as a spectator I guarantee I find it pretty annoying!

Does anybody really need to spend five minutes discussing the minutiae of conditions to work out what club to hit?

To be fair he has improved somewhat during the 2021 season although his ongoing spat with Brooks Koepka is not really what you want to see in the game of golf.

Phil Mickelson

To many, would be a surprise inclusion in the list but does rub some people up the wrong way. Was known as FIGJAM (F#$%, I’m good, just ask me) by some players during his early years on tour. He was implicated in an insider trading scandal but managed to walk away despite the other protagonists being imprisoned. He was also quite clear in his disdain for Tom Watson’s captaincy of the Ryder Cup.

Sir Nick Faldo

During his playing days wasn’t the most well-liked by his fellow players or by certain sections of the public and media. When playing he was totally focused on producing his best golf and didn’t really have time for conversation with his playing partners or banter with the crowd. Many probably saw this as arrogance.

Didn’t enjoy great relations with the press and famously thanked them from the heart of his bottom.  

He did famously donate his winner’s cheque to charity one year at the world matchplay and has created the Faldo Junior Series to give youngsters a chance of top-quality competition. As an announcer on US TV following his retirement from competitive golf he shows a much more rounded personality.

Watching Faldo in the late ’80s was one of the catalysts for me getting into golf so he would feature at the top of my personal list to have a round of golf with!

Ben Hogan

Hogan found his swing “in the dirt”. He was a very focused individual to the point where others may have considered it arrogance. Once when Gary Player rang asking for some advice on his game Hogan asked Player which brand of clubs he used. Player replied “Dunlop”. Hogan then told Gary Player to call Mr . Dunlop for the advice!

Lee Trevino

By all accounts was a very difficult playing partner because he calmed his own nervousness by chatting away to anyone that would listen. His behavior was great for the fans who could often join in with the banter but many fellow pros probably found it all a bit distracting.

Are there any celebrity golfers that I would like to avoid?

Former President Trump

By all accounts, he’s at best flexible with the rules, at worst an outright cheater. I’m afraid that just isn’t right. Even in a friendly game, I expect people to play within the rules of golf. Although if he’d like to invite me for a free round at one of his properties to explain why he’s misunderstood then I’d be prepared to listen!

Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly

Have been ever-present on British TV screens over the last 15 years or so and quite frankly I’m not sure why. In real life, they may be great but their TV personas just rub me up the wrong way!

Irritating Golf Professionals: Conclusion

I’m sure if you took most of these guys out of the competitive arena and had a casual game of golf with them it would be fine. They might even play a bit quicker than they do on tour!

Rightly or wrongly we expect sportspeople to behave properly, particularly in golf so as fans we probably get more irritated when they don’t live up to our standards.

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