• Alistair Tait

The 12 golfers of Christmas – The Chunterer


Welcome to another Christmas series highlighting characterisations of golfers we’ve all played with over the years. The series proved so popular last year I’ve decided to repeat the exercise this Christmas, too.


Once again, I obviously pre-wrote these so I don’t have to write my daily blog over the holidays. Still no flies on me. In other words, I’m currently incommunicado enjoying time with my family; eating and drinking too much; and taking long walks, sadly without Izzy in tow.


Oh, Izzy. Merry Christmas my big lassie. Still miss you big time.


1. The Chunterer


Arguably no sport produces a steady flow of near stream of consciousness, inner monologues as this auld game of gowf. The inner self is always active in our heads, so much so it sometimes slips out for others to hear. Indeed, sometimes the chunterers, so immersed in the frustration of the round, have no idea this monologue is being overheard, or that they're even talking to themselves.


I once played with an Irish friend, a low handicapper, who talked incessantly to himself as he prepared to hit tee shots. He said he couldn’t help it. His inner self just couldn’t contain itself. I recently played with another friend who gave himself a pep talk almost every time he stood over the ball. I don't think he was aware he was chuntering.


The late Bob Torrance once told me about playing in a tournament with someone who started talking to himself after hitting his opening tee shot. The frustration was so deep the player was talking to himself with tears running down his face by the sixth hole. After flaring an approach shot 50 yards wide, said player turned and, without saying goodbye, started running down the fairway in the direction of the clubhouse. The renowned coach never saw him again.


I’ve never experienced anything that bad, but I do remember playing the East Course at Wentworth and witnessing a golf writer give up on himself halfway down the first fairway. Said colleague pulled his 7-iron approach shot and said himself:

“I don’t know why I bothered to turn up today. I have no chance of winning this competition. I can’t play golf.”

When I pointed out we were only on the first hole, there were still only 17 holes to go, and he had a fairly simple chip to get up and down for par, he replied:

“There’s no point. I’ve never been able to play this game.”

Unfortunately, this chunterer began lamenting about his private life, too. He went from I can’t play golf to “I’m such a loser” by about the third hole. Problem was, we were just a two-ball: I had to listen to this litany for 18 holes. Just as well he wasn’t carrying razor blades in his golf bag: I might have had to call paramedics. Indeed, he was so depressing I might have used the blades myself!


A regular member of one swindle I play in used to say the words “what’s the point?” so often he now refrains from doing so because he took so much stick about it. He’s still a noted chunterer. Issuing such statements as “that putt can’t possibly move left to right” or “that’s so unfair.”


He’s not alone, the photo above of Brittany Lincicome reacting to a missed putt is the classic cue for the chunterer to start grumbling. And don’t think tour pros are above a wee chunter. Just ask any tour caddie.


Another friend mumbles constantly when he plays, to the point where it’s impossible to tell what he’s saying. It comes out sounding like something akin to Swahili. Or a Druidic chant.


Amazing how chunterer’s refer to themselves in the third person. In a recent competition, a playing companion kept saying

“Why did you do that?” or “what are you doing over there?”

I chunter to myself when I play poorly, and since my golf has been more bad than good over the last few years, well, let’s just say I’ve been doing a lot of chuntering lately.


“That should be bread and butter” is a favourite chunter line from yours truly. It’s usually uttered after taking three shots from just off the green for a basic, 15-yard chip and run shot.


“Nearly 30 years of playing this game and I can’t hit a green from 68 yards” is another favourite. Or 58 yards or 48, as my ball comes up 20 yards short and I face another, what should be straightforward pitch.


When she was a pup, Izzy often looked quizzically at me in case I was talking to her. She soon realised I was just chuntering to myself – again, throwing words out into the wind that were of no use whatsoever.


Still, you cannae beat a good chunter on the golf course.


#JustSaying: “I’ve just discovered the real secret to golf: you can’t play a really hot game unless you’re so miserable that you don’t worry over your shots. Look at top notchers. Have you ever seen a happy pro?” P.G. Woodhouse

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