No kidding: A back nine of golf cliches that just aren't true

No kidding: It's time to retire these nine golf cliches

They're often well-meaning or sometimes they're just trying to be funny. But every once in a while fellow golfers say things on the golf course that are just downright annoying. (Yeah, I know, glass houses and all that.) I don't mind a bit of chatter out there. And most of all, I like to rib my fellow playing competitors and don't mind a little in return. But there are things I hear on the golf course that I simply find bothersome. Much of it comes in the form of unwanted advice or false wisdom.

Sometimes, though, you get some good advice. Someone once told me when you're asked about your round, just give them the score, nothing else. Nobody really wants the details (unless you have a hole-in-one and a 10 in the same round like I recently did). Of course, I don't usually adhere to this wisdom because sharing your misery can be somewhat cathartic, but it's a great goal.

Another one of my favorites is, "There are no pictures on the scorecards, just numbers." In other words, just figure out a way to get it in the hole.

Those are two I like; here are nine I'd rather not hear anymore:

"A bad day at the golf course is better than a good day at the office."

This is never, ever true. Ever heard of a "Good Walk Spoiled?" (Now that's a great golf phrase.) I love golf, but a bad round of golf can definitely spoil a good walk. When I'm playing terribly, I'd rather go on a hike and leave the clubs in the trunk. And a good day at the office -- one where I get most of my checklist done -- is imminently more satisfying than shooting 92.

"Drive for show, putt for dough."

I've got news for you, if you can't drive it well – or at least adequately -- it's unlikely, you're putting for any dough. A five-footer for double or triple bogey rarely means anything. Putting and short-game are crucial to good scoring, but if you're hitting it sideways off the tee, you're probably better off not playing for money. By the way, if you're really good at driving it long, you can certainly drive for dough at the Volvik World Long Drive Championship.

"That's the shot that'll bring you back."

When you hear this one, that means the rest of your round must have been atrocious. It doesn't make me happy about the shot I just hit, but rather makes me sad about all the lousy ones that came before it. I know, I should just revel in a good shot, which is true. But like I said, a bad day at the golf course does not beat a good day doing something else. (Insert your favorite other activity here.)

"You didn't keep your head down."

Nope, it probably wasn't that. It was more likely one or two of the other dozen flaws in your golf swing. I'm amazed how many people still think this is a key to good golf. No reputable teacher tells this to his students, yet so many mid- to high-handicappers love to dispense this advice on the course, especially mid-handicapper husbands to their wives.

"You play against the golf course."

I've never seen a golf course yet that has won a Nassau or a tournament. Last I checked you play against other players who are playing the same golf course that you are playing. The course is simply the playing field. It's a little more elaborate than the ones in other sports, but I've yet to hear a football player say he was playing against the gridiron or a baseball player profess that the diamond was too tough of an opponent that day. When you play Monopoly is everyone playing against the board? I don't think so.

"Don't want to leave a birdie putt short."

I wasn't aware you wanted to leave a par putt short either or a bogey putt, for that matter. Or do you? If you have a birdie putt to a hole that's cut on the side of a ridge where if you're a little long, it'll race down the hill and off the green, then yes; leaving the birdie putt a little short is probably a good strategy. If it trickles in, so be it.

"Hit it, Alice."

I've played with people named Alice and they definitely don't come up short on their putts any more than guys named Paul or Butch or anyone else. I'm sure the great Alice Dye would agree. And this is certainly a slight against women, who I've found that compared to male players with equal handicaps tend to be much better putters. (By the way, the origin of this phrase may have actually referred to the great Peter Alliss, who missed a putt against Arnold Palmer during the 1963 Ryder Cup when a spectator yelled, "Nice putt, Alliss.")

"Well, at least I missed it on the pro side."

So the pros over-read the breaks and the average to lousy amateurs under-read them or pull their putts? If you ask me, a miss is a miss. Finishing on the high side of the hole gives me no satisfaction. Just make your best read and your best stroke and live with it.

"You're too quick."

Please don't tell me I'm too quick after I hit a bad shot. My natural tempo is fairly fast. All of my best rounds have come with that tempo; that's not changing. Everybody has their own tempo, both in putting and full swings. In fact, while we're at it, unless your name is David Leadbetter or Butch Harmon or you at least teach golf for a living, no unsolicited lessons, please. Golf is difficult enough without getting bad advice during the middle of the round (plus it's against the rules).

Have you heard a saying or golf phrase that rubs you the wrong way? Feel free to share in the comment section below.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
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If this gets upset about golf and gets joy out of completing 90% of a checklist he is a soulless bastard. Yeah, telling parents their child's cancer is gone is going to be an amazing day at work and golf can't touch a day like that. Getting through a checklist-- not quite the same. Missing a putt on the high side is quantifiable better because it will leave you with a shorter second putt than missing on the low side. Every miss is not the same. And as a very poor I would much rather have the devil grant me never making a three putt or worse again than an extra 50 yards on my drive. You can win a match when your drive isn't happening, but its much harder when your 2-3 putting everything. That six footer you miss half the time is more costly than the seven extra shots to reach greens I need on an average round. Especially since because I can putt I can lay up more often with confidence.

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Agree with some, not with others. Foremost is the "Drive for Show...." I have a +2 differential on holes that I miss the fairway with my drive than any other specific shot on the course.

The one I disagree with the most is the "Short on a Birdie". Par is the goal, not under par (why it is called PAR), so if you have the chance to best par, there is no need to "Alice" it to the hole since you have a stroke to give.

d22601ba-3a08-5c34-a3c6-1fde4c4e71e9
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How about these: "one" (if the ball falls off of the tee", "never up, never in" (if you leave a putt short) or "hit a house" (if a putt is overjuiced or a ball is clearly headed OB)?

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Picky, picky, picky!Cliches become that just because they are so true most of the time!I've heard so many golfers over the years use these and other phrases with authority meaning they aren't bothered that some golf writer doesn't like them.They add to the color of the game.And I've seen enough golfers look up too early and 'top the ball' to know that - yes - they should have kept their heads down!

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Nice piece.  We come from different places on the first one, I might play poorly on a given day, but I can't remember ever having a "bad day" on the course, but other than that and a subtle disagreement on the head one (I think pretty much any instructor will tell you to reduce *movement* in your head, but that is slightly different I guess).

Other than that though, great stuff.  I'm especially focused on #2 right now.  As my handicap has fallen (from ~18 to it's current 3.9) what's become really apparent to me is that if you're not on the green in regulation, your putting skills are largely moot.  For me the big areas of improvement has come with mid to long irons on the more difficult approach shots, but it's also very tough to recover from even a mediocre shot off the tee if you want par or better on a hole.

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No kidding: It's time to retire these nine golf cliches