Top 16 Golfers Who Are Jerks in Real Life

Professional golfers have a unique life even when considered among other professional athletes. Their game, as is often repeated by amateur golf coaches everywhere, holds more obstacles in the space between one’s ears than all the combined yardage of the links at St. Andrews. PGA Tour professionals don’t really compete against one another, they compete against the punishing weight of the details of the game as they crush down in the silent moments between shots. When you take the natural stresses of a competitive golf game and add cameras, grandstands, and galleries of fans, it’s not hard to see why golf pros can be some of the most notoriously temperamental in sports. In fact, it’s even understandable that some golfers would occasionally have an outburst that gets them labeled jerks by their peers and fans. But most of the time, an effort at professionalism or cordiality following the outburst can replenish the stores of goodwill in the hearts of golf-lovers.

But in addition to being an extremely personal, meditative game, golf is also a haven for entitlement, condescension, mistreatment and smugness. It’s easy to see why: a country club membership is many thousands of dollars a year, a good set of clubs can run you upwards of $1,000, and even playing a public course can quickly become an affair costing hundreds of dollars once fees, carts, shoes and food are included. Those who have the time and money to play golf from a young age seriously enough to make the professional circuit are almost always of the upper crust. So it’s less than surprising to hear about golfers treating their caddies like verbal punching bags, ignoring young fans, denying knowledge of egregious performance enhancing drug use, or even systematically cheating on spouses with any adult entertainer who crosses into their field of view. The life of a professional athlete is hardly as easy as the casual fan would make it out to be. But these PGA Pros are the repeat offenders whose antics can make the richest, most privileged sport outside of polo seem a little trashy.

17 Tiger Woods 

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

16 Pat Perez 

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

15 Phil Mickelson 

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

14 Seve Ballesteros 

13 Colin Montgomerie 

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

12 Jessica Korda 

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

11 Robert Allenby 

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

10 Curtis Strange 

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

9 Patrick Reed 

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

8 Ian Poulter 

Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

Ian Poulter, the English champion of the 2012 WGC-HSBC Champions is a special kind of jerk. He’s not the kind on whom all can agree. In fact, he delights and offends in equal measure with his prolific use of social media to brag about his good fortune. The most intense scrutiny is paid both by Poulter and his detractors to his conspicuously large collection of automobiles, prominently featuring the works of Ferrari. This tweet, is a pretty spot-on example of why he gets on peoples’ nerves. But in the end, there are far worse ways to be a jerk.


6 Rory McIlroy 

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

5 Vijay Singh 

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

4 Fuzzy Zoeller 

Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports

3 Sergio Garcia 

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

When you feud with someone who just famously had his serial philandering exposed to the world via a golf club through the windshield, you have to put in a lot of work to be the jerk in that feud. A remarkable, even Sisyphean amount of work. But noted concentration enthusiast (his pre-backswing routine often involved a full 20 seconds of settling the club face) and major-less Tour pro Sergio Garcia managed to make the task of being a bigger jerk than Tiger Woods look monumentally easy. Amid a torrent of verbal kicks to the already down-for-the-count Woods, Garcia happened to be asked if his nemesis would be invited over for dinner during the upcoming U.S. Open. “We will have him round every night," came the response. "We will serve fried chicken."

Let's not forget, this is the same guy who missed his shot, which hit a fan in attendance, and then proceeded to berate that fan. Classy.

2 Rory Sabbatini 

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

1 Bubba Watson 

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s one thing to be a golf jerk: to be entitled, abusive, petty, or unhinged can go along with the territory and sometimes it happens to the best golfers. What makes Bubba Watson truly repugnant is that he claims divine warrant for being a jerk—according to Bubba, his mere Christianity is enough to forgive offenses from treating his caddy like trash to becoming friends with Justin Bieber. By all accounts, he has never struck up any meaningful relationships with fellow players and his abuse of respected caddy Ted Scott led Golf Digest to satirize Bubba’s behavior: “He had to play with raindrops on his driver’s face. We all know that is Satan’s work, for surely the prince of darkness diverted the raindrops from all other players and caused them to settle only on Bubba’s sticks.”

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Top 16 Golfers Who Are Jerks in Real Life