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Bizarre and Improbable Golf Game
Those are the rules, but...
Dale Gribble: What happens if my tee shot lands on a bird's back and he carries it out of bounds but then is attacked by a larger bird who grabs the ball and drops it in the hole? Is that still a hole-in-one? Because that's how I'm going to play it.
Hank Hill: Dang it, Dale! It already happened once. What are the odds of it happening again?

Whenever there is a golf game in the TV show, one or both of the following effects may occur:

1. The rules say that the ball must be hit from where it lands, no matter what. Slapstick ensues as the ball goes into the most insane places, such as in the middle of the street or onto moving trucks. This may occasionally be subject to a Lampshade Hanging as the other players urge the character, in vain, to take the penalty stroke.

2. A hit golf ball bounces from several things (such as tree branches) before finally either going straight into the hole or landing right where it started. May be a stroke of luck, which ensures that the good guy wins the golfing tournament. See also Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics.

Often the protagonist will be playing against their boss, who expects to win. The protagonist will have to lose in a way that looks natural, and overlook blatant cheating.

This trope usually makes a golfer play a ball in a place where nobody in the real world would (extremely close to a dangerous animal like a bear or alligator is popular). There are rules that cover this, and usually the writers are oblivious to them (or simply choose to ignore them in the name of hilarity ensuing).

In the cartoon version, all players must wear hideously ugly clothing (sometimes happens in real life as well) and must wiggle their behinds when setting up a shot.

Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • A chapter in Kochikame when Ryotsu rigs the game allowing his team (using a remote control ball) to win including helping his boss Ohara. The last stroke, Ryotsu has to play fair and square and surprisingly, like Dale Gribble's quote above, a crow took the ball and dropped it in the hole. Each subsequent win, there's a large party hosted.
  • One chapter of Ghost Sweeper Mikami had Reiko dueling a spirit in a golf match on a course with impossible terrain, with both players using psychic powers to control the ball. Amusingly, the match is won by Okinu, who had never played golf before, and was playing the game normally, mainly because subtracting her absurdly high handicap from her absurdly high score put her one point below the enemy's score.

    Comedy 
  • A joke features a person playing a covert, forbidden game of golf (most commonly, a priest skipping out on Mass to hit the links or a rabbi on Saturday) and making eighteen holes-in-one. The punchline is God, in reply to an incredulous angel, shrugging and asking, "Who's he gonna tell?"
  • Older than Television: W.C. Fields created a hilarious golf game parody sketch, first in vaudeville and then in movies. Amusingly, thanks to the limitations of performing on stage, this didn't even have to involve hitting the ball. One of his first talkies, The Golf Specialist, adapted this routine, and he gets as far as "Keep your eye on the ball" before something inevitably goes wrong. Again and again. He never does get to hit it.
  • Another joke: Jesus, Moses and an old man are playing golf. Moses hits his ball and it lands in the water. He walks out to it, touches the water with his club and the water parts, allowing him to play through for a birdie. Jesus hits his ball and it lands ON the water. He walks on the water to it and plays through for a birdie as well. The old man hits his ball and it sails up into the air, hits a hawk then falls into a tree, hits a squirrel and ricochets into a neighboring yard where a dog catches it in his mouth, runs across the fairway and drops it on the green where it rolls into the hole for a "Hole in One". Moses looks at Jesus and says: "I hate playing with your Dad".
  • One more: A man playing with his girlfriend badly slices on the 13th and ends up behind a barn. He complains that he will have to lay one off on the runway before playing towards the pin. "Not so," says the girl, "I'll open the front and back doors of the barn, and you can play right through it!" He agrees, but his shot hits her between the eyes as she stands by the open door, killing her. Ten years later, the man in married, and they're playing on the same course, slices it again on the 13th and ends up in the same spot behind the same barn. He complains that he will have to lay one off on the runway before playing towards the pin. "Not so," says his bride, "I'll open the front and back doors of the barn, and you can play right through it!" "NO!" says he. "I can't do that!! Last time I did that, I took an eight!"
  • Another joke: A golfer gets a round in with his buddy. On the first hole, he slices right into the woods and finds his ball trapped behind some trees. The next hole, he slices it and it goes straight into a bunker, buried until he could barely see it. The third hole, he slices it right into a pond. The golfer says, "I should just drown myself to save the embarrassment." His buddy says, "You think you can keep your head down long enough?"

    Comic Books 
  • A Chinese Disney comic featured Donald Duck finding Gladstone Gander's hat (which has a four-leaf clover inside it) and getting hole in ones no matter what (at one point, the ball is knocked into a kid's remote-controlled plane, which carries it over to the hole). Donald then challenges Gladstone to a golf match (as it turned out, Gladstone didn't need the hat), and Gladstone's luck pulls through like always (he hit the ball towards the refreshment stand, and it bounced off a guy's raised shoe, hitting a flagpole and landing in the hole).
    • Published here too in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories 668 (2006).
    • A much older story featured an unusual inversion where Don kept mysteriously winning with increasingly improbable ways, while Gladstone's failures became utterly spectacular, culminating him to swallowing his own ball. At the end it turned out that a man who had been observing them for all the time was a reporter who was going to reward the worst golf player of the day with a large sum of money.
  • An Archie Comics story has the guys turning the entire town of Riverdale into a huge Golf Course, setting various landmarks as their holes.
    • One hole only - Archie, Reggie and Jughead played one hole from one end of town to the other, starting in a public park, and ending in Dilton Doiley's rain hat, hanging on a hook in his workshop. Par is in the mid 200s.
    • One Sabrina the Teenage Witch story has Sabrina caddying for the Head Witch Enchantra. And this game is really bizarre, taking place in the Other Realm, with both players using magic. Sabrina helps by zapping up a set of spell-resistant modern golf wear for Enchantra.
  • In Reid Fleming, World's Toughest Milkman, Reid and Lena go on a golf date. Reid manages to make one ball fly across town, hitting several buildings and an airplane on the way, and finally smashing into Mr. Crabbe's office in the dairy. Later, he lands in a water trap, and Lena insists that he play it where it lies, using his water wedge. Fortunately for her, his golf bag also contains an umbrella.

    Film 
  • In The Idle Class, Charlie Chaplin finds his golf ball in the mouth of a bum sleeping on the golf course. Charlie steps on the bum's stomach, causing the ball to fly out, whereupon Charlie hits it in the air.
  • Happy Gilmore did both.
    • Perhaps one of the most egregious examples, as the first part happens, followed by the first again, followed by the second, in the space of five minutes.
  • Likewise the Caddyshack movies.
  • Both happen in the final game in Swedish movie The Unwilling Golfer. At one point the ball lands on a truck that drives away, but the protagonist's sponsor calls the driver and pays him to instead park by the green.
    • The bit about attire also applies. The antagonist holds an elitist attitude about "proper attire" on the course, which he follows by wearing tartan shorts, which just looks silly (and the attire is complete with grey suit jacket and a plain cap). Meanwhile, the protagonist's Scottish mentor informs the protagonist that no proper golfer would wear tartan unless he was a member of a clan with that particular tartan. BURN.
  • The ex-president in Welcome To Mooseport wins his golf games through cheating, though he doesn't know it—whenever one of his shots goes into the woods to the side of the course, the Secret Service agents hiding there throw it back onto the green, and he thinks he's just lucky. He challenges the other protagonist to a game of golf, but his ex-wife forces the agents out of hiding, and he discovers that without their help he's completely outmatched.
  • Ian Fleming supposedly wanted to show that Auric Goldfinger was truly a Card-Carrying Villain by having him and James Bond play golf. Goldfinger flagrantly cheats throughout the game, which to a Scot like Fleming is beyond the Moral Event Horizon.
  • in Convict 13, Buster Keaton is a golfer trying to hit the ball out of a lake while standing on a raft...and then diving in for fish to find out which fish swallowed his golf ball.

    Literature 
  • According to Death's Domain: A Discworld Mapp, Death's golf course is designed to have bizarre and improbable effects, since it's filled with dimensional instabilities, folds in space-time and gravitational anomalies, all in an effort to counteract The Grim Reaper's Awesomeness by Analysis which prevents him from understanding that getting a small ball to go exactly where you want is supposed to be difficult. It also has a windmill, the symbol of crazy golf everywhere. It grinds the balls very finely. The accompanying illustration shows Death in his normal robes, but Albert, caddying, sports the traditional tartan plus-fours and silly hat.
  • A particularly memorable one in John M Ford's Star Trek novel How Much for Just the Planet?.
    • "Do you know there are land mines on this ground?" "Well, I should think we'd know. Not going to play eighteen holes without doing our recce, are we? Twelfth at Direidi, best par 4 in the galaxy."
    • Upon receiving permission to play through, they proceed to do so with artillery. "They" being the Brigadier and Sergent Benton. Yeah.
  • The subject of all P. G. Wodehouse's golf stories.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Episode "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Golfer" from Marty Feldman's sketch show Marty.
  • The entire second half of "Tee Off, Mr. Bean" is an example of this trope. Mr. Bean plays on a mini-golf course, but after hitting the ball too hard it flies out of the course and he pursues it around town, into the sewers, on the bus, through a grocery store, etc. Finally he cuts a piece out of the ground where the ball sits and brings it back to the course late at night to finish the hole with a score of 3,427.
    • Some critics unkindly accused this sketch of being an inferior retread of the Marty Feldman version.
  • An early episode of Scrubs had J.D. joining Dr Cox and Dr Kelso for their regular golf game. This led to a sequence of scenes in which Cox and Kelso debated medical ethics through J.D., apparently unconcerned that he was trying to play balls that had landed in increasingly ridiculous positions.
  • LOST, of all things, has featured a number of golf games, due to Hurley's finding clubs in the luggage and building a course. One match saw the Losties betting on whether Jack would sink a putt, without showing the resolution. Another had Kate urging Jack to take a penalty when he hit it into the stream (again, no resolution, as they were interrupted by Mr. Eko carrying a bloody and unconscious Sawyer.) One of the mobisodes centered on Jin missing a putt and throwing a tantrum about how nothing is going his way and how alone he is.
  • I Dream of Jeannie had a golf game where the ball did lots of bizarre and improbable things, but that was because of Jeannie's magic.
  • Col. Blake and Co. had a tendency to play golf on the mine fields around the 4077th.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Window of Opportunity," Jack and Teal'c wind up trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop, and in order to alleviate the monotony engage in a variety of antics, including playing golf through the 'gate. Hammond interrupts to ask what he's doing, to which everyone's favorite Deadpan Snarker retorts: "In the middle of my backswing?"
    • Also, Jack drives a ball into the gate and asks Teal'c how far away the dialed planet is from their current location. Teal'c responds that it is "Several billion miles", to which Jack remarks "That's gotta be a record."
  • An inverted second type happened on Entourage when Ari played a round of golf against a studio head, wagering Vince's role in one of the studio's movies. The exec was coached by Phil Mickelson and it looked like Ari had no chance of winning. It all came down to the final putt which Ari missed. The miracle came when the exec began yelling at Ari, had a heart attack, and dropped dead. A stroke of luck, indeed.
  • This trope is the entire point of the Leslie Neilsen videos Bad Golf Made Easy and Bad Golf My Way
  • The MythBusters did a couple myths regarding golf—specifically, that it was better to hit through a tree than to try and shoot around because the tree is 90% airnote  and that a C4 explosion could cause a ball to fall in the hole. Both were Busted. During the testing of the first myth at Pebble Beach, Kari and Grant wore the stereotypical fashion-disaster golf outfits, while Tory (the only one of the three with actual golfing experience) had an outfit more likely to be worn by an actual golfer (a polo shirt, light pants, and golf shoes). Later, Tory engaged in a contest against Grant's golfing robot (actually an air cannon) to see who could shoot more balls through a tree. Tory won.
    Tory: [upon seeing Grant and Kari's outfits] I feel a little underdressed.

    Music 
  • The video for Dinosaur Jr.'s "Feel the Pain," which has them playing Urban Golf all over Manhattan.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In an Improbable Ballistics example, Roger Fox from FoxTrot (who's a notoriously terrible golfer) hits the ball, bounces it off several trees, golf carts, pins, roads, etc... only to have it wind up back on the tee. In the words of his wife, "I can't tell whether the people behind us are laughing or crying."
  • B.C. had its fun with golf. Characters have actually been known to make golf swings while hanging by their feet from a tree branch. For a bonus, there's Bizarre And Improbable cheating when Clumsy Carp balances a submerged golf ball on his nose and raises it out of the water for a friend to hit, in exchange for a share of the winnings. Another time, B.C. (or possibly Thor) somehow wound up, after his swing, with the ball balanced on the head of his club. Consulting the massive rule book, Peter found a rule that "covers it explicitly," and told the unlucky fellow they had to shoot him.
  • Charles Addams once drew a cartoon showing a golfer grimly prying open an alligator's mouth as his young black caddie pokes around inside the beast with a club attempting to retrieve a swallowed ball; the golfer's partner admonishes him to "just play another one."

    Video Games 
  • In Ribbit King, the golf balls are frogs (and the game contracts "frog-golf" to "Frolf"). Yes, they hop upon landing, and yes, there are all kinds of bizarre and improbable hazards—most of which shouldn't be avoided, since they're usually worth extra points.
  • Can be deliberately invoked in Sid Meier's SimGolf, as you are the course designer.
  • Zany Golf lives up to its name, with hazards that range from lethal forcefields to a bouncing hamburger.
  • Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures, Episode 4: The Bogey Man involves a golf game occurring through the middle of town because it was built on top of the Golf Course. Out of both mercy and arrogance, Wallace's opponent changes the rules after the sixteenth hole so that that whoever is first to finish the last two holes in either order is the winner. Play goes through the sewers, through buildings, and at one point involves a squirrel. Success even involves using a legendary grip which sends the ball straight up and mailing the ball across town, respectively.
  • The Aqua Teen Hunger Force golf videogame took this to new heights, by combining the merely improbable (such as multiple rebounds) with the flat-out insane (such as your meatball friend absorbing the ball into himself so you can steer where it ends up, Frylock electrifying the ball so it goes further, and the ball being Made of Explodium). Courses take place on the Moon, in Hell, and in some kind of bizarre drug-fuelled hallucinoland, and some of the holes are actually kart-racing. Also, you need to take a chainsaw with you while moving around the course, in case you are attacked by time-travelling robot turkeys, mummies, or machine-gun-toting flowers. Basically, its sole similarity with golf is that getting a ball into a hole is an important step.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Badass of the Week once featured an article on the rules of Battle Golf: a game played by 4 incredibly drunk people. Each 2-man team attempts to get their ball into the hole while preventing the other team from doing so with BB pistols, butter knives and other weapons.
  • The online golf game, Pangya, a game with regular golf physics but with massively chaotic courses, awards a x2 score modifier for that shot every time the ball hits an obstacle but goes in. And by "massively chaotic", we mean that playing on a course made out of multiple naval vessels is of intermediate difficulty.
  • Wonderputt has a similarly bizarre setting, with the courses laid out by meteorites, snowclouds, cows being abducted by a flying saucer, a submarine stuck in ice and so forth.
  • Homestar Runner has Sweet Puttin' Cakes, a mini-golf course based on the incredibly trippy show Strong Bad invented. It exists in its own universe that can only be accessed by talking about mini-golf, the first hole is home to a talking worm, and the 18th hole has a par of infinity.

    Western Animation 
  • This happens in the opening of the Woody Woodpecker shorts The Loose Nut and Bathing Buddies. Also the plot of Woodpecker In The Rough.
  • Parodied in The Fairly OddParents.
  • In an episode of Rocko's Modern Life, "Teed Off", Ed Bighead plays against his boss, Mr. DuPette, and in order to make sure DuPette wins, Ed's manager has the golf course management launch pianos at Ed's ball (and occasionally Ed) from many improbable piano launchers, including a Kill Sat. But Heffer, who is working at the golf course and oblivious to the fact Ed is supposed to lose, tries to help Ed. At the end, Ed wins, and while Ed's manager is furious, Mr. DuPette doesn't seem to mind (however, unfortunately for Ed, he doesn't give him the promotion he was hoping for).
  • Cow and Chicken, "Comet!". Dad's golf ball lands on Chicken's beak, and thus both ball and Chicken are flung through the air.
  • An episode of Hey Arnold! featured this on the eighteenth hole of a round of golf designed to settle a fender-bender between Grandpa Phil and Big Bob Pataki. Phil is forced to play a ball from a diner's quiche, and Arnold needs to make up a rhyme so that he can hit it. Found here.
  • In the Disney cartoon How to Play Golf, Goofy takes "play where it lies" too far and ends up shooting the ball off the nose of a sleeping bull. What follows is one of the zaniest chase scenes ever, with Goofy running for his life while keeping the ball in play. At one point he misses the ball and runs back to hit it, narrowly avoiding being trampled by the bull.
  • In one Danger Mouse episode, DM hits a ball so that it lands directly into the hole and then bounces off to the next one. He almost accomplishes an eighteen-holes-in-one, but the ball unfortunately misses the last hole. After he leaves, the ball miraculously goes into the hole.
  • Some characters seem to indulge in this merely for the property damage. Gosalyn does this with a hockey puck in the first episode of Darkwing Duck, from the nose of a gangster. In a following episode, she is about to whack the ball off of her own father's bill before he calmly asks, "Have I ever told you the story about the little girl, the golf ball, and the firing squad?"
  • One Bugs Bunny cartoon has him playing against a Scotsman. Needless to say, he fudges the rules a bit, like digging a trench to lead the ball into the hole, for instance.
  • Pretty much any time the sport appeared on The Flintstones, it was like this.
  • The Tom and Jerry short "Tee for Two" turns into this.
  • The Jimmy Two-Shoes episode "Way Below Par", since Lucius is cheating and Heloise is making Jimmy cheat.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar episode "Mr. Tux" had a plot centered around this. And made no apologies for the obviously physics-defying shots. Apparently Mr. Tux is really just so good at mini-golf that he can bend physics to his will.
  • The last event of a Laff-A-Lympics episode was a golf game. Cindy Bear wrote "18th hole" at the ball and used an umbrella for a golf club. She hit the ball at the wrong direction and it hit several random things until falling into the hole. Cindy won the game.
  • Miniature Golf doesn't get much more improbable and bizarre than in Futurama: The Wild Green Yonder. First of all Leo Wong builds the world's largest miniature golf course, and plays golf on it. Then Amy Wong, pro-golfer, plays it with the Planet Express ship, while being chased by Zapp Brannigan on the Nimbus.
  • The page quote above, from King of the Hill in which they turn the ally into a replica of a Country Club's signature hole. At one point, Bill apparently had hit the ball into a garbage can. He tries to play it where it lies, but predictably doesn't get anywhere.
  • The Phineas and Ferb episode "Put that Putter Away" is a perfect example of this.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants, being a Literal-Minded Cloudcuckoolander, once played a game of indoor golf with Patrick. Hilarity Ensues because, well, you have to play the ball where it lies, right?
  • In the Men In Black cartoon, K's hobby is taking a bucket of balls to his "personal driving range" — a rooftop in midtown Manhattan.
  • Beetlejuice plays a round of golf in the Neitherworld in the episode "Caddy Shock" to save Claire Brewster's hide.
  • The Heckle and Jeckle cartoon "Goony Golfers." The two birds are caddies for Chesty the bulldog but only to drive him crazy.
  • Dan Vs. Golf, unsurprisingly, culminates in him trying to win a golf game against Chris. The game ends with Dan winning because the course was filled with Bird seed, everyone was attacked by birds, and one carried Chris' ball away. Err...That doesn't make much sense, does it...?

    Real Life 
  • A famous 18th-hole meltdown by Phil Mickelson in 2006 featured the ball bouncing off of numerous obstacles, but rather than going in, it just kept going farther and farther away, making this more like the first type than the second.
    • Also in the first variety of "playing it where it lies"—when played at Carnoustie, the British Open has featured a number of these where the golfer tries (and fails) to play the lie rather than take the penalty, most famously Jean Van De Velde's meltdown on the 18th hole in 1999, which was repeated almost exactly with Padraig Harrington in 2007. The difference, of course, was that when it happened to Harrington, he was spared by Sergio Garcia also bogeying the 18th hole, forcing a playoff which Harrington won.
    • Bernard Langer once climbed a tree to play a shot, after his ball landed in it, rather than taking a penalty stroke.
    • There is also an unsubstantiated story of a golfer landing a ball in a water trap, then taking his next shot from a rowboat when the ball miraculously floated.
  • Then there's the story of the golfer whose shot started a wildfire.
  • Kevin Na suffered through a 16 on a par 4 in the 2011 PGA Tour after he played a ball out of the woods. The issue appears to be that, once he attempted to play it out, he could no longer take the penalty and move to the previous position, as that previous position was also within the woods.
  • Vijay Singh hit a ball of the 16th tee at the 2009 Masters, it skipped about 5 times off the water hazard, hit the berm, bounced onto the green, took a curve to the left, and rolled right into the cup. Watch it here.
  • During World War II, an Obvious Rule Patch was supposedly adopted throughout Britain which would allow for a delay without penalty for the players to take cover during air raids, and allowing them to disregard the "play it where it lies" rule if a golf ball should land in a bomb crater.
  • Nothing beats Alan Shepard's Golf on the Moon during Apollo 14 .
  • People who live next to golf courses seem to have problems with trespassing golfers whenever a stray ball lands on their property.
  • Rory Mc Ilroy had a shot bounce off a tree and land in a spectator's pocket. Play it where it lies?


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