Can a compliment be an act of gamesmanship? Possibly. Allow me to explain.
The frustration of a birdie putt that comes up short can cloud one’s mind with unspoken expletives, as well as sap the sincerity from well intended compliments.
Conversely, a compliment delivered with a smirk can be unsettling enough to linger to the next tee and beyond.
In the game of golf, etiquette and honor do not require that every miscue need consolatory commentary. Sometimes it’s better to echo your partner’s frustration with a “Are You Kidding Me!” or a short and succinct “&%*@”. At least you will be more in tune with your partners attitude.
A little thoughtfulness is the best course and commiserating with your golf buddy is considered a magnanimous gesture. But if you need your opponent to hook it OB on the next tee box, try a smarmy “Fantastic effort Bob!” Beware of flying putters.