The Anatomy of the High Five

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In one of my golf outings earlier this year I encountered something very unusual, or at least it was to me, and since then I’ve seen this “activity” take place several times. It’s called the unnecessary or inappropriate High Five.

The High Five is historically a moment of celebration where you are so overcome by sheer joy that one of the only ways to release your exhilaration is to smack the raised open hand of another individual that shares your same emotion.

It’s a simple concept that has been polluted by a species of individuals that have taken it upon themselves to make everyone aware of their greatness. It’s sad really. The anatomy of a high five is so simple I’m just dumbfounded at how so many people can easily screw it up.

The first rule to follow for a proper high five is also the first place where it can all go wrong.

Rule 1: You never initiate the High Five. Keep your elation to yourself until you get the signs from other that a High Five is warranted.

Example: You just made a 15 footer to save par, for yourself it was a huge putt because 15 footers just don’t drop for you as often as you’d like. In your moment of greatness you raise your hand and start seeking out High Fives like a TSA drug dog going through the luggage of an inbound flight from Amsterdam. The sad part is you have seamlessly ignored the fact that the 5 footer for birdie your buddy has is just a little higher on the relevancy meter in his mind. The last thing he needs to see is your glowing face and elevated hand approaching him with the verbal proclamation of “HIGH FIVE, HIGH FIVE!” while he prepares for his putt.

Rule 2: The moment calls for the level of energy in a High Five, not the person.

Another facet of the anatomy of the High Five is the level of intensity. Excitement and adrenalin can easily elevate your desire to punish your buddy’s hand for attaining such greatness but keep this in mind- unless your accomplishments reward everyone else in your foursome (like winning the final hole of a tournament to lock up the title), nobody is going to share with you your level of enthusiasm. End of story. So don’t take your moment and ruin it by blasting your pals hand to the point of needing medical attention to reduce the swelling.

I place this antic alongside the vice grip handshake. Few things show off your level of manliness like a nice firm handshake, but there are those out there that feel the need to crush your hand like a wet Dixie cup given the chance.

Remember you’re sharing this moment with others; don’t make them hate you for it. There is a good chance they’re already pissed off that you did something better than them on the hole, no need to add salt to the wound.

Rule 3: Never leave your boys hanging

There are some players that just have to break rules 1 and 2. It’s inevitable. Chances are there’s one, if not two of these types in your weekend foursome and you’re anxiously waiting for the day they decide to retire the inappropriate high five. Until then you’re obligated by the “bro code” to never abandon them in their moments of delusion. Not acknowledging them could make the round more uncomfortable than need be.

High Five left hanging

Yes, it’s painful to feel like you are encouraging this type of child’s play, but the ramifications of leaving someone hanging could bring an unnecessary level of tension to the round and nobody wants that.

There is, however, a secret weapon that can be used to befuddle and bring them back down to reality a bit without causing any extra hostility:

Rule 4: When in doubt, pound it out.

The next time your buddy comes up to you with his hand raised high, expecting a high level of epidermis exchange, turn the script and offer up your fist only. Then watch as their over-exuberant actions quickly turn to the realizations of just how off they were in thinking a high five was a correct choice to express themselves.

Sources (Wikipedia) say that the Fist Bump was originated by Baseball Legend and Hall of Famer Stan “the man” Musial but I’m more inclined to believe the people that claim it was the Wonder Twins who are the originator of this most excellent form of affirmation.


Was this the first ever fist bump?


Regardless of who is to be credited for the Fist Bump I’m going to say it is the most practical way to share props or excitement on the course. It’s quiet, can be discreetly performed while others are preparing for their shots, and has that level of coolness that’s appropriate for a golf course.

Just be sure to STOP at A fist bump. No double bumps or twist and turns or one legged bouncing after bumping. Don’t feed the urge of the witless, a simple fist bump will suffice and we will all better for it.

Rule 5: Hit your damn target

Hopefully the majority of us aren’t inflicted with those asinine individuals that I spoke of earlier. There are those of us out there that understand the anatomy of the high five and pull it off with precision time and time again.

There are those instances though where even the tame and collected lose their cool and get overly pumped up and launch an undirected out of control high five completely missing the intended target.


High Five Fail
Classic High Five Fail


Don’t make it worse by trying to relive the moment. It’s gone, you screwed up and it’s time to move on. There is no Re-High Five. Try to maintain yourself and execute. Rule 5 is by far the most important piece in the high five puzzle. It’s the closer; it takes the entire event, finishes it in a crisp loud conclusion and places the exclamation point on the moment.


So that’s how you write a thousand words on the High Five. I know it may come off that I’m not a fan of the high five but nothing could be further from the truth. I love it when they’re executed correctly and for the right reasons. It just grinds my gears when I encounter these certain individuals that take a great way to express emotion and ruin it with over emphasizing the action. It’s just not necessary.

Let’s all help save the high five by stopping the few from ruining a great tradition in all sports, not just golf.

[Jumps off soapbox, walks to first tee]
Follow Mathew Wangrycht:

Writer and founder of the golf blog The Breakfast Ball. My wife will tell you I'm obsessed with the game, she's right! It's that obsession which drives me to become a better player and make this site enjoyable for everyone.

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