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  • Alistair Tait

The 12 golfers of Christmas – The Volcano

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.

7. The Volcano

You don’t want to tee it up with a Volcano. You’ll spend the round with one thought uppermost in your mind: when is the Volcano going to erupt?

There have been some legendary Volcanos over the years.

Tommy Bolt spewed lava all over the golf course on many occasions. So much so that he once famously said:

“Always throw clubs ahead of you. That way you don’t have to waste energy going back to pick them up.”

Tom Weiskopf had the misfortune of playing when Jack Nicklaus was in his pomp. The tall American might have won more majors than just the 1973 Open if not for Nicklaus. Weiskopf finished runner-up to Nicklaus in the 1972 and 1975 Masters. He was third behind Nicklaus in the 1975 PGA Championship. All told, Weiskopf had six top threes in the majors.

He was also renowned for getting just a wee bit riled up on occasion. How much more would he have won if he’d been able to control his inner volcano?

That last sentence applies to Colin Montgomerie. The press corps I was a part of during Monty’s heyday had a saying for the Scotsman.

“Wonderful on Wednesday. Thunderous on Thursday.”

He could be frightening on Friday, too, and either sullen or sunny on Sunday depending on how he fared. Probably no European golfer has ever blown his top the way Monty did during his halcyon days. I’d need far more than an 800-word blog to cover all of Monty’s toys-out-the-pram tantrums. Monty's petulant state was often quite humorous. You didn’t dare laugh – at least not out loud.

Anyway, an angry Monty story was always a welcome topic for newspaper editors, and some of us made a decent living from chroniclings Monty’s moods.

Thomas Bjorn may now be an elder European Tour statesman, but he went by the name “Semtex” in his early days because of his explosive nature. You crossed him at your peril.

I remember standing near the 16th tee at Loch Lomond Golf Club during the Loch Lomond Invitational. Bjorn was playing with Monty and the Dane strode over to me after they’d teed off. I felt a wee bit apprehensive at the serious look on Bjorn’s face as he walked towards me.

I wracked my brain to try to think of something I’d done or written to raise Bjorn’s hackles, but to no avail. Suddenly Bjorn was upon me. He leaned in close and, with a wink, whispered:

“Beware of Monty after the round. He’s ready to blow.”

I made sure I stood at the back of the pack when Monty faced us afterwards for his post-round press conference. Sure enough, Monty erupted.

Cue “Monty storms off golf course” type headlines on the back pages of the next day’s sports pages.

The eight-time European number one really did take childishness to new levels.

Sergio Garcia has disgraced himself quite a few times over the years. He’s thrown a shoe – literally – spat in a hole at Doral and damaged a green in Saudi Arabia because of his sometimes brattish nature.

Tyrrell Hatton, Tyrrell the Terrible, is the latest Volcano to grace the European Tour. How he manages to finish a round considering his temper is sometimes a mystery.

You have to look long and hard to find a bigger eruption than Hennie Otto’s. The South African once snapped all his clubs after an 80 in the Nashua Nedtel South African Masters at Wild Coast Country Club, put the pieces back in his golf bag and threw the lot off a bridge into a river.

He spared the putter, though. It must have behaved itself that day.

Of course, club golfers don’t have the freedom to reveal their inner volcano the way pampered tour pros do. No, ordinary golfers have to pay more attention to the etiquette side of things or risk having no one to play with or being barred from the club. Still, we’ve all witnessed colossal volcanic eruptions during our time on the fairways.

I once played with a fellow golf journalist – now deceased and who shall remain nameless – around Woburn’s Duchess Course. Said scribe was famous for his colossal temper. After yet another topped shot, he dropped another ball on the grass, turned 90 degrees and hit a perfect mid-iron shot into the pines. Then he looked to the heavens and screamed:


Needless to say, he topped his next shot too.

This same journalist was going along nicely in an Association of Golf Writers competition at Turnberry when a wee dog disturbed him as he was preparing to tee off late in the round. The distinguished scribe regrouped only to top his drive. Fuming, he walked over to the wee tai-wagging dog, pointed to it and said:

"If I lose this competition you're dead!"

Thankfully the wee dog had the good sense to get out of Turnberry pronto, for fear of death by mashie niblick.

Bloody game!

#JustSaying: “If you want to laugh, you have two choices: either go to a circus or I’ll bury this 8-iron in your head.” David Graham to fans during the 1981 Open Championship

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