18 of the worst breaks you’ve seen on the golf course

Tiger Woods
When it comes to bad breaks on the course, this one from the 2013 Masters where Tiger Woods hit the pin with his third shot on the par-5 15th in the second round only to watch it ricochet into the water is right up there. Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

A smoked drive down the middle of the fairway that ends up in an old divot. A perfectly struck shot headed right for the flag that inexplicably ricochets off a sprinkler head. A putt that’s dead, solid, perfect, but defies physics and pops back out of the hole.

These are the kinds of bad breaks and bad luck that all golfers have seen, and many have experienced.

In that vein, we recently asked our Caddie Network social media following to identify for us the worst breaks they’ve ever witnessed on the golf course.

Here are 18 of our favorite responses.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION: Add the worst break you’ve seen on the golf course to our Twitter thread

“Player inside the number on 18 in Memphis hits perfect drive down the middle. The ball hits a sprinkler and goes left into the water. Player missed the cut by one.” — @kmaerke

“2013 Masters — Tiger hits the pin with his approach shot and the ball ends up in the water. THEN… he gets penalized for an illegal drop and ends up with an 8. If the ball misses the pin, he probably makes a birdie, a swing of 4 strokes. (Oh yeah, he lost the tournament by 3.)” — @DannyR415

“Joe Daley. Q school. Gutted a 3-footer… hit the back of the cup and popped out.” — @cronkross

“I hit the shot of the week at Turning Stone. Downhill, into a stiff breeze. I pured an 8iron 160 – low, boring flight, right at the top of the flag. Never found it.” — @Ornamental_Sun

“I saw a scratch player absolutely nuke a tee ball on the par-5 12th at Oakmont and it hit a hawk resulting in the hawk’s death and a 130-yard tee ball short of the fairway. I think the player doubled.” — @twash_bag

“Needed par on 18th, a par 5, to qualify for US Am a long time ago. Hit second shot 3 iron to front of green. Landed on sprinkler head, over green, into water, bogey, missed by one.” — @matthughes16

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“Trusting that I was on the right hole on the pin sheet.” — @kgcanning

“In a 3 for 1 playoff to get into the US Junior Am. Both playing partners hit terrible drives into native areas. I smoked it straight down the middle. 20+ people looking for it, couldn’t find it. Went back to the tee, made double. One other guy made double, other got through with a bogey.” — @coachchriscoker

“My buddy hit an approach shot out of rough short of the green, in a deep grass bunker. Pin on the front of the green and elevated 15 feet above the player. He hits his flop it hits the flagstick and comes all the way back to his feet. Hits it again, hits the stick, same result.” — @Chandle66520947

“Worst break I had caddying was breaking my ankle on a fairway sprinkler head that collapsed. A real bad break.” — @chili_gumbo

“My buddy hit a shot that hit a tree, then hit him and went out of bounds.” — @BigMikePape

“Jean van de Velde in British Open. If the ball doesn’t hit square on the rail and go backwards, he would have won… maybe.” — @jjbuckspa

“Mass Mid-Am, first hole at Franklin CC, hit an uphill 4-footer. Putt fell down into the hole, then popped out off the back liner.” — @DentremontDave

“U.S. Kids Tournament in Pinehurst at No. 9. First hole. Great drive and then shot into the green. He missed his target by 3 ft. right. Going right at the flag stick hits just off the green. Catches a sprinkler head and goes OB. Took six holes for the kid to bounce back.” — @JBBrewerGolf17

“The time I was 6 up after 9 and lost. All square on 18. My caddie (dad) gave me a sand wedge from 125 on 18 thinking the adrenaline was pumping and I would have blown a 3/4 PW over the green. Came up 10 yards short of green, flubbed chip, bogey and lost.” — Tim Finnegan

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“Player hit his first on a tough, short, par 3 into some nasty bushes left of the green. He hits a provisional and it goes in the hole (easy par). But, alas, his competitor happened to I.D. his ball in the bush… we made double and went on to lose the match like 5&4.” — Sean Harkins

“Jamie Arnold this year at Lecom Health Challenge in the final round playing in the final group with Ryan Brehm and Tim Wilkinson. He was maybe -1 or -2 after seven, cruising along right at the lead and hit his tee ball on 8 — a very reachable par 5 — maybe 5 yards right of the fairway to where he would have absolutely no issues just hitting it up in the vicinity of the green and having a great look at birdie. There was maybe 1,500 people out with us watching and we never ever found the ball. He went back to the tee and ultimately grinded out a double bogey and missed the playoff with us by one shot. If he finds the first, like he would have 999/1000 times, he makes par at worst and wins. Gut-wrenching to see it and nobody likes to win like that. Gave him a hug on 18 and told him his time would come and it will. World-class player, world-class attitude that you can’t teach and all-around classy guy.” — Lorcan Morris


  1. Not sure about S. Harkins comment. Only the player can ID his ball. And the player never needs to search for a lost ball if he doesn’t want to. So the player should never have gone to the bush to look for his ball just go over and pick up his is Par from in the hole. If his opponent said I think I found your ball he doesn’t have to go over an id it. he just walks to the next tee! Sounds like Harkins blew that if he was the caddy.

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