One of the most frustrating things about golf is that even when you think you’ve done everything to perfection, the golf gods are always conspiring to somehow bite you in the ass. Lip outs are just one of the many tools in their arsenal they use to crush your spirits and send you spiraling towards the 19th hole in search of some comfort and consolation.
For those of you unfamiliar with the game, lip outs most often occur when you’re trying to putt. It’s when the ball leaves the clubface and looks like it’s making a beeline straight for the hole. If it’s a long putt you’ve probably already raised your club in the air in triumph as you wait to hear the magic sound of the ball dropping in the cup. If it’s a short putt, you’re probably already bending down to retrieve the ball and make your way to the next hole.
But then, all of sudden, something strange happens.
Maybe you didn’t read the break just right or maybe you struck the ball a bit too hard. Maybe some foreign object like an insect or pebble made its way into your line or maybe a gust of wind picked up just enough to make the ball stray a tiny bit off course.
When you consider that a golf hole measures a mere 4.25 inches in diameter, that tiny bit might as well be a mile. Since golf balls seemingly have a mind of their own, instead of the ball coming up short or blowing by the cup it will “take a peek” at the hole and might even do a complete 360 around it before deciding it doesn’t want to go in. Depending on how hard you hit it, after it takes a tour of the hole it might stop just a few inches away. If you "crushed" it and it was a short putt to begin with, you might end up with what's known as a horseshoe. That's when your next putt is actually farther away than where it was when you first started putting. In either case, it doesn't matter. In golf that’s still another stroke (unless you're a cheating bastard) you have to add to your score and carry around in your head for the rest of the round.
The usual reaction to a lip out is one of subdued frustration. A heavy sigh, sagging shoulders and a look of disbelief or disgust are often the tell tale signs that one just happened. In extreme cases, a golfer might actually sag to their knees and implore the golf gods to please, please let them be. Some folks with a flair for colorful language will often test their ability to stretch their words to heights they never dreamed of. If they have any degree of golf etiquette they’ll usually mutter these words so that only their playing partners can hear them rather than shouting them out and disturbing players on nearby holes.
Lip outs, like the yips, are one of the most frustrating things about an already frustrating game.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Note: Yesterday, Phil Mickelson came within a pubic hair of shooting what is a rarity in golf. He came down to the last hole needing to sink a medium length putt to card a 59. It looked so good when it left the club that there seemed to be no way that it couldn't go in and then...
The fuckin’ thing lipped out.
The golf gods giveth, the golf gods taketh away.