Team events are golf’s version of the Wild West. They’re the haven of the cheat

I was once lucky enough to play at the golf day of a well-known former sportsman. It was a team event, with 75 per cent handicap in force, so I was surprised – off 12 at the time – to see the number 15 beside my name when I looked at our card. ‘Don’t worry,’ I was assured. ‘Everyone’s a handicap bandit.’

But it got my back up, and I wanted no part. The winning scores were so high at the presentation it was the standing joke in the room.

Plenty were laughing, but not yours truly. To put it bluntly, I was raging.

If you’re a veteran of golf days, team events and betterballs, it’s not unusual to worry about a bit of creative accounting. It’s expected.

The audacity of some golfers when they can hide in such formats is breath taking. They might as well swap their golf bag for one that has SWAG stitched across the front.

There are those that can do nothing but .1 when their mark is on the line who are suddenly points machines when it’s a non-qualifier.

They’re the ones winning everything in the Winter League and making the out-of-season fourball betterball look like a cricket score.

It’s bad enough when everyone has a CONGU handicap. Who hasn’t left an Am-Am in disbelief at the miracle performed by the team that sloped off with the cash?

It’s why some clubs ring round, post competition, to make sure their winners are kosher and why handicap committees are finally starting to catch up with those making hay in the snow and ice.

But when no certificate is required it’s basically lawless.

I simply can’t believe what I see anymore.

My blood’s boiling before the prize giving has even begun, because I just know it’s another 50 plus point haul for the pair walking away with the voucher.

And why is it always seemingly the team in front of us, the one we watch shanking and topping for most of the day, that end up shaking hands and smirking?

I’ve had it. No more am I prepared to delve into the wallet to endure another day of raised eyebrows and passive aggression.

Isn’t it a sad state of affairs – in this supposed sport of ladies and gentlemen – that these events always seem to end in an interrogation of the handicap bandit?

‘What did you say you played off?’

Until I’ve seen the whites of their eyes the result always comes with an asterisk attacked. It’s why my entry fee is now remaining firmly in my pocket.

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