Best April Fool's Day practical jokes for golfers

Playing a joke on your friends during a round can be fun - if done right.
Lee Trevino shows off his infamous rubber snake at The Open in 1971, a month after he pranked Jack Nicklaus with it at the U.S. Open.

Today is April 1.

You know what that means: be on guard. Nobody wants to be the victim of a practical joke on April Fool's Day.

I'm still salty about the time my basketball ended up in the bushes by a basement window as a child. My younger sister yelled out the window when I went to retrieve the ball, scaring the crud out of me.

Golf buddies tend to be just as ruthless as siblings. Golf is a gentleman's game, but that doesn't mean a little practical joke now and then can't be fun.

There are lots of ways to mess with a playing partner. Some are just so cruel I don't condone them. Don't ever unsnap a golf bag so that it falls off a golf cart or step on/run over a ball on purpose. Those tricks aren't in the spirit of just having a little fun. Clubs could actually break falling off a golf cart. If a driver head shatters, that's a $500 joke gone wrong. Making a noise in the middle of someone's backswing isn't cool, either.

There are other tricks that I've either had pulled on me or tried on somebody else, though, that are fair game. They're harmless, as long as you choose the right time and the right person. Nobody wants to be pranked when they're playing an epic round at a Top 100 course. There are plenty of other days and courses where these pranks could spice up the laughs.

Staging a fake hole in one

Could you pull off the ultimate golf prank - a fake hole in one?

This one will take some real planning and multiple people to pull off, so good luck! And to the golfer who has never had an ace, it could be considered cruel and unusual punishment to stage a fake hole in one. But there are ways to make it happen. All it takes is a par 3 with a blind green. There's an urban legend that caddies at Lahinch Golf Club in Ireland used to work together to stage aces on the famous "Dell Hole", the fourth hole where a hidden green is tucked between high dunes. The caddie of the group in front would put a tee shot in the hole and then split the tip with the caddie of the golfer who made the ace. It sounds like quite a scheme.

To pull it off, you'll need to stash someone, either in the group in front or in the bushes sight unseen. Once the victim tees off, the accomplice will retrieve the ball, drop it in the hole and run back to his or her hiding spot. Recording the excited reaction of the unsuspecting golfer and then their fall from grace when the plan is revealed could be priceless!

The exploding golf ball

I almost feel bad that I took advantage of my dad, who isn't much of a golfer. It's his fault really. He's had an exploding golf ball sitting in a desk drawer for probably a decade or longer. I finally grabbed it for a round at our favorite hangout - a scruffy nine-holer called Overlook Golf Course on Big Lake near Mount Vernon, Wash.

If you've never seen one of these balls before, it's easy to tell they're fake. They look like a ball of dimpled soap. The key is to cause a distraction, so your victim is not paying attention before hitting. I did this by yelling loudly, "Look at that huge fury thing! What is that?" as I pointed toward the nearby riverbank. When my dad turned around, I quickly switched balls and gave the excuse that the creature must have disappeared into the water. I'll let my Instagram account tell the rest of the story.

A cell phone caper

Everybody panics when losing any of the three most important items they carry every day - wallet, phone or keys. I recently played a round where a buddy snatched my cell phone from my cart while I was in the bathroom. Thankfully I didn't fall for the joke by hitting the panic button. After a quick search, I simply drove to my ball. Low and behold, there it was. Thanks guys.

If you do attempt this trick (a rangefinder could also work), make sure to give the phone back right away. You don't want your buddy freaking out about what hole he or she might have lost it on and go searching for it.

The ol' rubber snake trick

Lee Trevino pulled out his famous rubber snake at the most awkward of times - the first tee of an 18-hole playoff for the 1971 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club. He tossed it at Jack Nicklaus, who took it well, especially considering he would end up losing the playoff.

"I had picked up that rubber snake in the Fort Worth Zoo gift shop a few weeks earlier... and I had just stuck it in my golf bag," Trevino told Golf World Magazine. "I wanted to use it to scare some of the caddies and other people."

I've actually had a rubber snake attack me on a golf course. Michael Patrick Shiels, a golf writer and radio personality from Michigan, has tried to scare me on more than one occasion with the snake he still carries in his bag to this day. He's even attempted to prank celebrities like Al Kaline, a Detroit Tigers Hall of Famer who passed away in 2020.

"I tried to use it on Lee Janzen at Treetops, but he said, 'I live in Florida - I know a real snake when I see one'.” Shiels wrote in a Facebook message. "Tom Weibel (a playing partner at the Golf Club of Georgia) launched his styrofoam coffee cup 10 feet into the air. Jim Nantz’s wife, Courtney, at Cape Arundel Golf Club in Kennebunkport (Maine), shrieked and leapt into his arms."

Will you be ready when a rubber snake or spider shows up in your golf cart today? April Fools!

What's the best golf April Fool's Day prank you've experienced? Let us know in the comments below.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries 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 Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
Commented on
Couldnt find the best clip where they buried some one under a green and had his hand reach out of the hole to collect or push away the ball ....

More from the author
4 Min Read
May 19, 2022
David McLay Kidd's $7-million redesign reinvents the private golf club that is accessible by a stay at the Inn at Entrada in St. George, Utah.
9 Min Read
May 12, 2022
Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort, can help golfers get in better shape - physically, mentally and emotionally - on and off the course.
3 Min Read
May 9, 2022
We round up the golf books titles worth your leisure time.
6 Min Read
May 5, 2022
Despite a limited Greek golf culture, this 72-hole golf resort offers everything a golfer could want.
4 Min Read
May 3, 2022
At the moment, mask and testing mandates are in a state of flux. Many international destinations are relaxing rules to encourage overseas travel. We recently took advantage to visit Greece for the first time.
4 Min Read
May 2, 2022
Playing Del Monte at Pebble Beach Resorts on its 125th birthday reminded us that historical, classical golf is the best golf.
2 Min Read
May 2, 2022
I'm participating in a Youth on Course 100 Hole Hike this summer. Why aren't you?
1 Min Read
May 13, 2022
Drop and give me 18.
1 Min Read
May 11, 2022
These major champions got it done under the most intense pressure. They can help you do the same.
2 Min Read
April 28, 2022
Famous, historic and exclusive clubs are all offering rounds to help with turf research in 2022.
Load More
Now Reading
Best April Fool's Day practical jokes for golfers