Nothing is worse than having a great round of golf slowed down to a screeching halt.  (Golf Advisor) A snow man on the Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Marana, Arizona.  (Getty Images) A 9-some spotted on a golf course will certainly slow down pace of play.  (Golf Advisor) An unforeseen temporary green can damper a fun round.  (Golf Advisor) Playing after a large corporate event can result in some unbelievable backups.  (Golf Advisor) A golfer tries to play out of a bunker with standing water.  (Golf Advisor)

Golf Nightmares: What do you fear when you show up at the course?

Your tee time has been booked for days.

You can't wait. It's the highlight of your week, maybe your month. No kids. No spouse. No obligations.

Just thinking about your upcoming round has helped you survive the mood swings of your boss and that two-hour conference call that stretched to four.

Golf can be life's greatest escape. That is if everything goes according to plan. Nothing is worse than looking forward to a great day on the course, only to have the experience derailed by something that goes wrong.

In the spirit of Halloween, I present another 'Deegan's Dozen' - the 12 things golfers fear when they show up at the golf course. For your sake, I hope you never run into these problems, although they are quite common. Some of these issues are the fault of the course. Sometimes, it just seems like the golf gods turn against us. Have more fears to confess to us? Share them in the comments below.

Unannounced aeration

Aerated green

You've paid rack rate. That's okay because it's a beautiful weekend morning. You hit your first approach shot pin-high and are thinking 'birdie'. Then, as you get closer, you notice some sand, and some dirt, and some holes ... Wait? What? All the greens have been aerated and nobody gave you a warning in advance.

I wrote about aeration issues when revealing my greatest pet peeves in golf. It's a necessary evil to achieve great course conditions, but when you're not alerted when you book the tee time, it's the worst feeling ever. Now you're forced to make a horrible decision: Should there be an automatic two-putt rule? Yuck.

No beverage cart

You're already nine over and it's only the seventh hole. You're ready for some swing oil. Where's the darn beverage cart?

When you finally reach the turn, you're told there will be no beverage cart for the day. Is it broken? Did the driver call in sick with the brown bottle flu? Doesn't matter. Buzz kill.

Bad pairing at the first tee

You pull your cart up to the first tee. It's judgment time. When you book a tee time as anything other than a foursome, you're gambling with your chances of a great day playing golf.

Most of the time random pairings work out fine, until you land that guy - the dude who gives out swing tips after every shot - or this guy - the one who talks on his phone the entire round. Or how about the dude who chucks clubs like an Olympic javelin thrower? The first time was entertaining. The seventh? Not so much.

Fear the fivesome (or worse)


The pace of play has been perfect. Your foursome cruises along through the first five holes without a person in sight. The rhythm of the round has you playing well. Then comes golf's version of a car crash. You turn the corner, and there they are on the green: A fivesome of golfers. Your momentum, and the round, screeches to a halt.

Often, if they're members in good standing, the course rangers will do nothing about it. Even if the fivesome keeps pace, the psychological impact is real. The round feels slow.

Outing alert

backup carts

You book a tee time on a Tuesday afternoon thinking that's a nice slow day when everybody's in the office. Wrong. You show up at the course to a horde of people. It's the typical charity outing where only 13 percent of the participants actually play more than once a year. You're the first group off after the outing. Welcome to your worst slow play nightmare.

Temporary green(s)

This one really stings. You're having the round of your life heading down the home stretch. The flat stick is feeling it. The driver - en fuego. That's when you discover the 16th and 17th holes are playing to temporary greens, the tiny ones placed in awkward spots. Even if you do make par, suddenly your great round doesn't feel so inspiring. There's an asterisk in the record books.

Suddenly, paying full freight feels like a rip off, especially since nobody from the course warned you in advance.

Unexpected weather


The weather forecast looked so good all week that you took the rain gear and umbrella out of the bag. Oops. By the third hole, the clouds have rolled in. The fifth hole brings the 15-minute deluge that leaves you scrambling for cover.

Wind storms and freak thundershowers can strike at any time. Mother Nature marches to her own beat. It sure is a bummer, though, when she picks your one day of golf to rage against humanity.

Cart path only

Nobody likes being told on the first tee that today will be cart path only.

The rule is not only a killer for pace of play but the pure enjoyment of a round. It brings up so many problematic scenarios: What's my yardage? How many clubs should I take to my ball? I need my 8-iron: Can you bring it to me? Who forgot the cart back there?

You're better off walking. The problem is most modern daily fee courses weren't built as a stroll in the park. Walking's nearly impossible, if not outright discouraged, at many clubs.

Where's my wedge?

You've striped your drive on the third hole, leaving a gap wedge in. You shuffle around in your bag. Where is it? Then it hits you. Your son borrowed it last week and it's still in his bag in the garage. Slightly annoyed, you decide to hit the hard sand wedge instead of the baby pitching wedge and proceed to blade one over the green into the pond. #%$&@*#@*@$!!!

Accidentally leaving a favorite club at home makes you feel like an idiot. You'll probably play like one, too.


You're serious enough to show up an hour before your tee time to hit a few range balls and work out the kinks from your last round, which was eons ago. Just your luck, the range is closed for who-knows-why. Or you're forced to hit off the mats. It's almost a waste of time and energy, right?

No thanks to the shanks

You haven't played in a while. The range is closed (remember?) and you have no idea what's about to happen for the next four hours. The first few holes go fine. You're happy with bogey golf. Then it happens. A shank. Dead right into the woods. You drop another ball. Ditto. Same thing again. Now you're spooked.

Just writing that word gives me the creeps. It brings back bad memories of that one time it happened to me. Every shot I attempted was a hosel rocket dead right or a worm burner. It was so unnerving I picked up.

Thankfully, a buddy I was playing with shared the perfect remedy. He told me to practice some chip shots off the green while the rest of the group finished the hole. He read somewhere that feeling the clubface hit the ball square at impact would help. I made a speedy recovery.

Unplayable bunkers

bunker wet

You've hit your approach shot into the bunker. No biggie. Sand doesn't freak you out. This time, it's different. The sand looks like cement mix. You try to chunk it out, but skull it over the green. Now you're ticked. Two holes later, you're trapped again. This time, though, the sand is fluffier than cotton candy. It takes you three swings to dig it out.

Bunkers are meant to be hazards, but come on! There must be some standard of decency. I'd say almost one out of every 10 courses I play has some sort of serious bunker problem, whether it be not enough sand, not enough maintenance, crumbling edges, rocks, poor drainage, sand too fluffy, etc.

Share your biggest golf nightmare in the comments below.

Oct 26, 2017

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Lowell 's avatar
Lowell wrote at 2017-11-03 20:25:36+00:00:

The Wrecking Crew; The Unexpected Desert and the usual "We have no record of your reservation." All avoidable and all a combo of laziness and fundamental dishonesty.

Bob's avatar
Bob wrote at 2017-11-01 17:36:27+00:00:

Last ball in bag with tee shot over water

uWQAH8601WQ's avatar
uWQAH8601WQ wrote at 2017-11-01 04:22:10+00:00:

slow play and poorly maintained golf course. why bother?

steves2099's avatar
steves2099 wrote at 2017-10-31 20:16:47+00:00:

Joe Q public golfer thinks he's a Jordan Speith on the course. Need I say anything further..

Brent Blandford's avatar
Brent Blandford wrote at 2017-10-31 19:08:30+00:00:

Playing behind a 5 1/2 hour group of hacks.

TimGavrich's avatar
TimGavrich wrote at 2017-10-31 16:07:52+00:00:

Unknown aeration might be the worst of all of these, because it's the easiest for a given course to eliminate from the experience. Simply make a note on your course's website about aeration dates, send an email to course newsletter subscribers, put it on social media, make sure pro shop attendants know mention it when taking phone bookings for tee times. These are all "leaks" in the experience that can sour a golfer's attitude on a course. The courses that plug these leaks are setting a great example for ones that need to catch up and catch on.

xazntigerx's avatar
xazntigerx wrote at 2017-11-01 04:45:14+00:00:

Most people will cancel their tee time if they know that it’s aerated.  For the golf course, that’s revenue lost and staff are encouraged to omit that info at most places.  Inlike the courses that give 50% off to entice you to play while Course is aerated so that you can choose to play or not.  

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Jason Scott Deegan

Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.