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Golf cheats

Why are we so obsessed with the tiny number of players who cheat?

Deal with them, kick them out, but stop letting the very small minority of people determined to bend the rules dictate for the rest of us

 

Sometimes I’m accosted (sorry, approached) by golfers about various Local Rules their clubs could introduce.

Their efforts are sincere and well-meaning. They may consider a problem with sprinkler heads close to greens. There may be tree roots starting to protrude onto a fairway.

The Rules of Golf provide to deal with such circumstances but, in my experience, some clubs can be reluctant to take the plunge.

And the reason is often the same: golfers could take the proverbial.

It’s an argument I often hear when I see, or discuss, change in our sport. Just look at the World Handicap System, which is routinely derided as a ‘cheat’s charter’.

Last month, I argued a lost ball within the confines of the course could be treated in the same way as a ball lost in a penalty area. In that circumstance, the penalty would be altered from stroke and distance to a drop at the last estimated point.

cheating golfers

Everything is open to abuse if you’re determined enough to be a golf cheat

I knew what the response in some quarters would be. ‘It would be open to abuse’.

Well, so what? Everything in golf is open to abuse if you are determined to be scurrilous. Did you know, for example, that in the Rules of Golf you don’t have to alert your playing partners if you’re going to identify your ball, or take relief?

The laws of the game trust you to get on with it. They also reveal harsh penalties for those who abuse that trust, and that doesn’t include how a club will react if they catch someone up to no good.

Too many of us use the illusion of cheating to moan about some aspect of the game we don’t personally like.

We’re happy to point the finger because it’s easier to find someone to blame then deal with the issue at hand.

We worry far too much about people who might bend the rules or look to cheat. If people break the rules, deal with them. Discipline them, kick them out, but stop letting that minority dictate to everyone else.

The yardstick for whether a change is implemented at a golf club shouldn’t be whether it might be exploited. The only consideration should be whether it’s the right thing for the club.

Now have your say

What do you think about golf cheats? Have your efforts to improve things at your club been foiled because fears of cheating? How did you deal with it? Let me know with a comment on X, formerly known as twitter.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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