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All of the Weirdest Injuries and Accidents in World Golf

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Sport can enthral and inspire those watching from the sidelines, for it is a chance to watch their idols in flesh and blood from close quarters. But ask those at the centre of all the attention. The verdict from that corner would be that there are enough vagaries in competition — be it golf injuries or even accidents on the course — that can derail the best of strategies, and careers at times.

In golf, that awry tee shot, the seemingly perfectly-executed fairway shot finding the rough or the lip-out on the green makes this sport played in serene surroundings among the most unpredictable. One that often trumps form.

Among the factors not accounted for in this list are freak accidents, often with the potential to end careers. All it takes is a slip or misstep to derail the years of toil and sacrifice. The list is long of achievers on the world stage slipping into oblivion all because of one false step or a freak incident on the golf course.

Keeping in mind Akshay Bhatia’s recent mishap of dislocating his elbow while fist-pumping too enthusiastically  at the Valero Texas Open in April (which he still won, miraculously), we’ve put together a compilation of some of the weirdest Golf injuries and accidents in the History of the Game.

The weirdest golf injuries and accidents to have ever occured

Rookie bitten by Black Widow spider

First on our list is Swedish golfer Daniela Yvonne Holmqvist’s spider bite. In February 2013, Holmqvist was bitten by a Black Widow spider while competing in the ISPS Handa Australian Open pre-qualifier. Holmqvist was on the fourth hole of the Royal Canberra Golf Club when she suddenly felt searing pain in her ankle. She looked down and noticed, just above her sock line, a big black spider with a red spot on its back. She quickly swatted it away and decided to handle things herself as her leg began to swell and the pain got severe. She took a tee from her pocket and slashed open the wound to squeeze out the venom and prevent it from spreading through the body. She then went on to complete her round and later joked about the incident on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), calling herself ‘Spider-woman‘.

Golfers make it through bolt of lightning

weirdest golf injuries and accidents
A Chicago Tribune newspaper clipping on the incident. (Image: Chicago Tribune/ Newspapers.com)

During the 1975 Western Open at Butler National in Oak Brook, Illinois, Lee Trevino, Bobby Nichols and Jerry Heard were hit by lightning. Nichols was the first to be struck that fateful day as he was knocked off his feet and left bewildered. Trevino and Heard were beneath a tree, close to the 13th green, with their umbrellas open, when rain began to pour. They were next to their Golf bags with metal clubs when a lightning struck Teal Lake, sending currents across the field. Both Golfers sustained burns after being knocked off their feet. The trio was transported to hospital in the neighbouring town of Hinsdale, and Trevino and Heard later had surgery to treat their injuries.

Thomas Levet’s celebration turned tragic

There’s a curious tradition among French golfers that if any of their compatriots win a tournament, the winner gets tossed into a nearby water hazard. After winning the French Open in 2011, Thomas Levet anticipated the move and chose to take a short cut by willingly jumping into the greenside lake at Le Golf National with his caddie. Unfortunately, Levet landed on the rocks and fractured his leg. The Frenchman subsequently lost out on the opportunity to compete in the 2011 British Open, for which he had only been eligible due to his victory in the French Open. Though the injury is common, the episode is one of the most unusual golf injuries in the game’s history.

Mel Reid’s encounter with a snake

In 2012, English golfer Melissa Reid was bitten by a poisonous snake while competing in the Sanya Ladies Open in Hainan, China. Reid, a multiple-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, continued to play and, astonishingly, birdied the very hole where she had been bitten. One of the rarest golf accidents, she received treatment on the course and opted to complete her round, taking 20 different pills in addition to an injection to lessen the impact of the venom.

Sam Torrance sleepwalks out of the Ryder Cup

A strong contender for the top spot in our list of the weirdest golf accidents, Sam Torrance, the legendary Scottish golfer, suffered injuries on the chest and toe after he stumbled over a plant pot while sleepwalking in a hotel during the 1993 Ryder Cup week. As a result, he was forced to skip the singles matches on the last day of the Ryder Cup at The Belfry. Explaining the incident, Torrance said he mistook the Yucca plant for an invader.

Greg Norman’s freak chainsaw accident

weirdest golf injuries and accidents
Greg Norman’s chainsaw mishap ranks among the weirdest golf injuries and accidents in the game’s history. (Image: Greg Norman/ Facebook)

Iconic Australian golfer Greg Norman nearly lost his left hand in 2014 following a frightening face-off with a chainsaw at his Florida property. The entrepreneur and Hall of Fame golfer was cutting trees at his property when his left hand was drawn towards the chainsaw by the weight of a branch. The chainsaw missed an artery by less than an inch and the blade struck him slightly below the area where a person would usually wear a watch. Luckily, Norman escaped with minor surgery and was quickly back in the spotlight.

Brett Ogle’s bizarre accident

During the 1991 Australian Open, Brett Ogle was in contention on the 71st hole when he hit his second shot from the rough into a tree, sending it ricocheting into his left knee. Despite being in shock and excruciating pain, Ogle managed to gather himself and finish his round at the Australian Golf Club with a brilliant nine. However, he suffered a broken kneecap that prevented him from playing for six months.

Big Easy’s uneasy water-skiing accident

In 2005, towering South African golfer Ernie Els was involved in a water-skiing accident. He was on vacation with his wife and children when he got into an inflatable tube being towed by a motorboat in the Mediterranean. Els suffered an anterior cruciate ligament rupture which rendered him unable to play for almost a full year despite the injury being relatively minor.

Darren Clarke’s infamous Bahamas vacation

Northern Irishman Darren Clarke was slated to compete in the 2012 Masters when he suffered a hamstring injury while playing tennis with his children. The European Ryder Cup captain was forced to abandon his pursuit of the Green Jacket despite receiving extensive treatment in the Bahamas to prepare for the opening Major of the season.

Rory McIlroy’s soccer kickabout mishap

Rory McIlroy was forced to miss much of the 2015 season after injuring his ATFL ankle ligament and concomitant joint capsule while playing soccer with his buddies back home in Northern Ireland. He later revealed that in a matter of seconds, his ankle grew to the size of a tennis ball. He was diagnosed with a damaged ligament in one ankle and serious injury in the other. He missed about seven weeks of competitive golf due to the injury.

Bobby Cruickshank ignores gravitational force

Bobby Cruickshank. (Image: Virginia Golf Hall of Fame)

Scottish Golfer Bobby Cruickshank was leading the 1934 U.S. Open with eight holes to play. On the eleventh hole, he mishit a shot that ended up in a creek, but the ball miraculously bounced off a rock and landed on the putting green. With great delight, he threw his club into the air, but as it fell, it struck his head, rendering him unconscious. That resulted in a gash on the head that required multiple stitches. He was so shaken and confused that he made multiple bogeys on his final seven holes to finish tied for third. This incident is regarded one of the most embarrassing Golf accidents.

‘Skip’ Kendall’s index finger vs frozen bagel

In 2003, ‘Skip’ Kendall’s career nearly took the harshest cut when he chopped off most of the top of his left index finger while cutting a bagel for breakfast. The American professional golfer put the fingertip in ice, rushed to the hospital, and had it stitched back on. The golfer was out of action for only two weeks, but he had to temporarily switch from an overlap grip to an interlocking grip.

(Main and featured image: TSG Pixels/ Unsplash)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the rarest injuries?

Eye injuries, cervical and neck injuries, dental injuries, heat sickness, and injuries caused by a golf ball or club hit are some of the rarest injuries in golf.

What are the weirdest injuries?

While common sports injuries include fractures, dislocations, sprains, tendinitis, and bursitis, a number of unusual or extraordinary injuries related to any sport can be classified as weirdest injuries. Examples include breaking a kneecap from a ball that ricocheted, falling down a flight of stairs and breaking the back, tripping over a plant pot while sleeping and breaking the toes, and jumping into the water to celebrate and landing straight on a rock and injuring the leg.

Has there ever been a golf injury?

Golf is widely regarded as a safe sport with a low risk of injury. However, as with any other sport, injuries can occur while playing golf. The most common injury spots suffered by golfers are the low back and elbow due to overuse or poor mechanics.

What is the meaning of injury?

An instance, or the result, of being physically hurt. When it comes to golf injuries, overuse injuries involving the shoulder, neck, and back are the most common.

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