Bad Pairings

By: Andrew Penner

[Editor's Note: This is the second installment of "Golf Tales from the Great White North" by Cybergolf writer Andrew Penner. Andrew, a resident of Calgary, is a professional photographer and freelance writer with a keen sense of humor.]

News Flash: Who you're paired with on the golf course can make or break your day. Get the correct pairing and, regardless of how many cold-tops you hit into the juniper bushes, your round can be laugh-filled and memorable. Time well spent. Get in the wrong group and, by the fourth tee, you could be wishing you were back at the ward undergoing shock treatments with Nurse Ratched.

As we all know, anytime you show up at the course as one, two or three players you're rolling the dice. While your friendly neighborhood axe murderer or Cleo from the Klu Klux Klan could quite possibly turn out to be your afternoon playmate, it's more likely that some imbecile with a much more menacing motif will ruin your fun.

Of course, this isn't to say that the tattooed, freaky-haired stranger that shows up on the tee with you is someone to fear. No, in my 30 years of playing golf, I've noticed that the most dangerous pairings are often the ones that, at first glance, seem to have it all together. It's only when they're only a few triple-bogeys in that the truth starts to rear its ugly head and the terrifying reality of what you're dealing with actually hits.

Here, then, are some of the most dangerous golfers on the planet . . . and how to deal with them before padded rooms and straight jackets are imminent in your future.

The Holier-Than-Thou Teacher Guru Guy - Yes, undeniably, we all need a little help with our game. However, when Yoda the know-it-all teacher, who claims to have a direct line to the golf gods, starts critiquing your every move and bombarding you with his divine swing knowledge after every shot, you're in bad way. Deal with this loser by: telling him to shut the $@#$ up and worry about his own game.

The Silent Steamer - Let's face it, the game is meant to be social and friendly. So when buddy boy starts hitting hosel fades and clams up tighter than a rusty nut, things can get extremely uncomfortable. Three or four holes later, as his face goes beet-red and his orifices start steaming and overheating, you know it's only a matter of time before She blows. And God help you all when it happens. Deal with this loser by: keeping your distance and having one hand on your 7-iron just in case he turns his wrath on you.

The Charles Barkley-like Swinger - The syrupy-smooth flow and effortless power of the best players are, for most of us, a pipe dream. And, certainly, it's not a bad thing that some people have a few glitches when it comes to their maneuverability. However, when you're paired with someone with a move that is so jerky, so bizarre and so disgustingly ineffective that it's actually painful to watch, you've definitely drawn the short straw. Deal with this loser by: praying for him and staring at your Footjoys whenever he swings.

The Incessant Whiner Who Thinks He Should Be On Tour - I'm fine with raising the bar high for yourself. Nobody wants to suck. I get that. But I really don't have a lot of respect for nonstop crybabies. Bad bounces happen. Bad scores happen. But, for $@&* sake, deal with it like an adult. Deal with this loser by: shoving your grass-stained towel in his pie hole.

The Arrogant, I-Outdrove-You-Again Guy - This brainless wonder is, typically, only concerned with two things: picking up the chick on the beverage cart and hitting it farther than everyone in the group. And, of course, bragging about it. Due to the extreme levels of testosterone and the lack of oxygen flowing into his brain, he is susceptible on a number of fronts. Deal with this loser by: keeping the conversation on a high intellectual level. Eventually he'll start hitting it sideways, wither and die.

The Crazed, Bipolar Club Thrower - Violent temper tantrums are a fact of life . . . if you're a petulant two-year-old who hasn't had a Tootsie Roll in over a month. Naturally, given the difficulty of the game, we all have moments of considerable frustration during a round. However, when people snap at the slightest miss-hit and use their clubs like spears, javelins or machetes, I tend to get a little annoyed. Deal with this loser by: picking up any discarded weaponry for him, snapping the shaft over your knee, and throwing the pieces into the trash can for him.

Unfortunately, bad pairings are a part of golf. Knowing what you're up against - and how to deal with it - is a critical aspect of enjoying the game on a continuing basis. Because, let's face it, shock therapy is overrated.

Andrew Penner is a professional photographer and freelance writer based in Calgary, Alberta. His work has appeared in many leading golf and lifestyle publications in North America and Europe. Andrew is also a 20-year member of the Canadian PGA and still teaches the game on a part-time basis. When not on writing or photography assignments, he enjoys chilling out in the backyard with his three boys and his wife, Dawn. Feel free to visit Andrew at You can also reach him at

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