1-800-GOLF-TIP, one of the internet’s greatest mysteries, ironically does not have its roots on the internet itself.
Rather, it has been propagated by first-hand accounts of web sleuths, all who tell an eerily similar story of a mysterious phone number that teens in the ‘90s would dare each other to call.
Calling this number led to a seemingly innocuous, yet somehow discomforting voicemail that no one could decode.
But with only tall tales as evidence of its existence, will we ever know what the purpose of this mysterious phone number was?
What Was 1-800-GOLF-TIP?
The number 1-800-GOLF-TIP was a hot topic in the 1990s. Similar to the proliferation of creepy YouTube videos (think “Blank Room Soup”) decades later, rumors about the number spread like contagion amongst teens.
Before proceeding with details about the mysterious number, it must be suggested that readers do not call it, as it currently belongs to a different owner, and said owner is an erotic hotline at that.
When one called 1-800-GOLF-TIP, what would be on the other end?
According to just about every account, callers were met with a recording of a man with a thick Middle Eastern accent counting to ten repeatedly, making significant pauses after certain numbers.
Most recall a pause after the number six, though some insist it came after seven or eight. Supposedly, if callers stayed on the line long enough, a deafening scream would be heard.
What Do We Know For Sure About 1-800-GOLF-TIP?
The number is almost certainly Canadian, as public knowledge of its existence originated from Canadian billboards.
In an archived thread compiling information on the number, Reddit user u/Ohigetjokes describes seeing one of the billboards in his hometown:
“They paid for a billboard in my town. The billboard made it sound like it was supposed to be a legit golf thing so I never called it until my friends went on and on about it.
There was something really compelling about it to us back then. People would talk about it at school, you’d call it with your friends when you were hanging out together, and if you were bored and alone you’d call it from a payphone.”
This thread also includes the most vital piece of evidence that proves that the number did in fact exist: a 1993 listicle from a college publication called the Charlaton.
Here, 1-800-GOLF-TIP is mentioned on a list of “six things we like, three things we hate, and one thing we just don’t care about.”
Theories As to the Purpose of 1-800-GOLF-TIP
With any recordings of the infamous 1-800-GOLF-TIP message lost to time, it is difficult to ascertain what exactly its purpose was.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that someone was sinking money into this number; the combined price of registering an 800 number and promoting it via billboard was likely hefty. It must have served some purpose.
One theory purports that the number was a social experiment of sorts. However, this begs the question, what social experiment?
Callers could not leave messages, so no personal information could have been collected. Perhaps the person or people behind the number were merely creating a phenomenon for the sake of doing so. While highly unlikely, it is a possibility.
The most likely theory regarding the purpose of 1-800-GOLF-TIP is that it was simply a ploy to collect active phone numbers for telemarketing purposes.
Before the days of social media companies like Meta collecting our data and selling it to advertisers, the same practice was utilized by telemarketing companies.
Whoever was behind 1-800-GOLF-TIP could have garnered tens of thousands of phone numbers to sell, thus providing a motive to register the number and purchase billboard space.
And while this is just a theory—and the mystery is not solved for certain—it is a likely explanation.
Still, in recent years, yet another possible solution to the mystery has arisen.
Did 1-800-GOLF-TIP Have Actual Ties to the PGA?
According to a Payphone Project article on 1-800-GOLF-TIP, “Buried in the squall of the YouTube thread is the most reasonable and informed response to all this.”
The YouTube thread he is referring to is the comment section on Barely Sociable’s video about the mystery (linked at the top of this article).
The author transcribes the comment, posted by someone using the name Sam Lufti:
“I can explain to you exactly what this was all about. Around 1995 my uncle who is Lebanese (not Indian) worked/volunteered for the PGA,” the user wrote.
“A”t that time, members of the PGA decided to pay for a hotline where you could call and receive golf tips from around a hundred PGA members that were attending the Tommy Armour Teaching and Coaching Summit in New Orleans that year.”
“The line was active but only for about a week until the board received a massive bill for all the toll-free calls made that week. No one wanted to pay the bill, and it remained in dispute for years,” they continued.
“Now, the message you hear is my uncle testing the line when it was initially set up. At the time you had to record numerous prompts so you could direct the callers to what numbers to press.”
“Upon filling the dispute, the phone company removed all the prompts and deactivated the numbers you can press, and it defaulted to his initial test recording,” the post concluded.
If this commenter is being honest, then the mystery is solved. However, there is no way of proving this assertion true.
In fact, after digging through the comment section of the video from which this claim supposedly comes, it would seem that the comment was deleted.
Do you have a theory as to the purpose behind 1-800-GOLF-TIP? Let us know in the comments!