Maurice Flitcroft was not exactly what you’d call a seasoned golf professional. He was a 46-year-old crane operator from Northern England who had never once played a full 18-hole round of golf – he just happened to pick up a club one day and, after whacking a ball at some scraggly local field a few times, decided “Screw it, I’m a professional now.” So he entered the tournament, artfully dodging questions about his handicap and professional status by either lying or just not fucking answering. And that’s how the 1976 Open got all sorts of rough.
Clad in plastic shoes, a fishing hat, false teeth, and playing with an incomplete set of cheap mail-order clubs, Flitcroft took the tee amidst a sea of immaculately dressed pros with perfect swings. He attacked the ball like he’d heard that it would reveal his darkest secret if he didn’t kill it, and yet he barely got it off the tee. His ultimate score – a ridiculous 49-over-par 121 – is still the worst in tournament history, and no one has even come close to performing more badly. Immediately after he was done playing, they changed the rules so that Maurice Flitcroft, specifically, would never again be able to compete anywhere in the country.
Not that Maurice gave a single fuck. He had decided that he liked the game, lords and ladies be damned. For the next 20 years, he would attempt to enter the Open and several other competitions, using various plots that even Wile E. Coyote would deem impractical. What’s more, he succeeded.