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Cheats don't prosper
I know a lot of golfers who really stink. I know a lot of golfers who can't play golf all that well either. To try to level the playing field, or to cover-up their inadequacies, some golfers resort to cheating. This is when the sport rears its creative head.

In some sports, such as football, cheating seems to be rather normal and, quite frankly, acceptable - in particular when a player admits to calculatedly breaching the rules by deliberately setting out to injure an opponent.

Or take as an illustration the beautiful sport of ice dancing. Over the years we have come to cherish a number of bold manoeuvres by the skaters, or their hired thugs, to bash the kneecaps off their nearest rivals. This type of behaviour is fully expected. In fact, at next year's World Championships, just after the 'Judge Buy-Off' takes place in the foyer, the competitors will each be given a jar full of coins that must be thrown onto the ice during the event. I await this with great anticipation.

Baseball is another sport where cheating has become rather popular. And of course, it's all legal now. As Babe Ruth rolls over in his grave, most baseball teams won't even give you an invite to training camp unless you're whacked-out on steroids and as for pitchers, well, you had better know how to scuff a ball with a hidden hand saw or you'll never be selected for the team.

Even the England cricket captain has been spotted roughing up the ball with help of a pocket full of dirt

One of the most publicised and most pathetic cheats is when American football players fake an injury. I've never seen more guys with nary a hangnail concoct reactions so spirited that, if we didn't know better, we'd swear they were getting their nether regions squeezed in a vice.

In other sports cheating is quite rare. Take, for example, darts - how often do you hear of Phil Taylor (pictured) zinging a dart into another guy's back to try to put him off his game? Doesn't happen. Or how about running? Tough to cheat there too. I've yet to hear of a runner getting out ahead of the pack in order to set up a trip wire to cause mayhem on the herd of stick people coming up behind him.

Golf is one of the sports in which cheating isn't highly acceptable, yet situations where people bend the rules are fairly prevalent. Golfers who are so inclined to, say, poke their opponents with a tree branch while they are about to play a crucial stroke, number in the thousands. In addition, many golfers believe that poisoning their opponents is an effective way to come out on top, so be wary of anyone who offers you a sip from their hip flask on the first tee.

Regardless of your tactics, chances are you too have schemed ways to ensure that you are the only one left standing (sober) after it's all said and done.

Other popular ways that golfers try to cheat include:
Employing handicaps that fluctuate more than the stock market
'Handicap maintenance' is what my friend 'Muzzy' (peckerhead) calls this.

Using illegal equipment
Golf clubs powered by gasoline engines will soon become the norm at your club.

Creative counting
'Plan B' is how my uncles refer to this technique.

Mulligans
If at first you don't succeed, fail, fail and fail again.

Fill-in-the-blanks approach to the Rule Book
Example 1: 'When a ball disappears in the middle of a water hazard it is considered to be temporarily out of service. Seeing as I paid good money to play and the guy with the hip waders and the really, really long ball retriever should be present but isn't, there is no penalty and the ball must be perched on a nice, fluffy piece of grass much closer to the hole.'

Example 2: 'Out of bounds markers are defined by the real or perceived level of danger in venturing to play a ball from a non-golfing region that may be protected by things like guard dogs or evil stay-at-home moms wielding brooms.'

Example 3: 'When a ball becomes plugged in the sand trap, harangue the heavens and make a spirited attempt to extract the ball with your wedge. Repeat. Repeat one more time, increasing the level of vulgarity threefold. After your inevitable failure, pick up the bloody ball and heave it onto the green without counting a penalty stroke. Also, do not count any of the vicious swipes you made in the bunker. After all, the sand was much too fine and the ball should never have plugged with the trajectory in which it entered the good-for-nothing pit from hell.'

In closing, I believe that the inherently difficult nature of golf (and possibly mankind's unquenchable desire to conquer all) is the underlying reason why people cheat at the game. Or, perhaps the answer lies in a joke that ponders an age-old question: Why do golfers lick their Titleists? Answer: Because they can.

Andrew Penner is a Canadian golf pro who 'wrote' this article after seeing it written somewhere else and copying and pasting the whole thing.


©    11 - NOVEMBER 2002



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