How do you confront a cheat?
Steve Carroll: Everyone’s got a story of how they think they’ve caught a ‘cheat’ on the course.
Mine is far from unique. We were playing in a medal and the final person in our three-ball sliced a shot off the tee that swerved wildly to the right.
Both me, and my other playing partner, saw it slide over the 150-yard marker and come to rest in some heavy rough. We all marched towards the ball but, as the five minutes nearly reached a conclusion, it had yet to resurface.
As time almost ran out, our hero suddenly came across his ball – some 30 yards behind and parked conveniently right by his trolley.
Two of us protested. We’d seen where the ball had landed.
Now what I should have done was march into the clubhouse, alert the competition committee to the alleged wrongdoing and demand an inquiry.
But I did not.
Because it’s a tricky thing, accusing someone of cheating. Could I be 100% sure he had broken the rules? The ultimate dishonour on a course, just the mere suggestion of it can stain a reputation.
So what do you do if you think you’ve caught someone taking a liberty?
Jamie Millar: It’s hard to accuse someone if you are not 100 per cent sure that they have cheated. They may have miraculously found their ball.
If I saw it, though, I would definitely call them out on it. I’m not sure if I would take it to the committee. It would depend on the circumstances and how much pity I felt. Persistent cheating would be another matter, though.
James Savage: I agree Jamie. I’d have to be 100% certain they had cheated. Even if I was 95% sure, I’d probably keep quiet rather than make the accusation.
Cheating is part of club golf. There will always be cheats at golf clubs and everyone knows who they are.
It will probably be far too late for them to change their ways now.
Christian Maiden: Personally, I actually find it quite amusing seeing people cheat and if that’s the way they need to play then let them. Once you’re known for it you’re tarnished, so that’s that.
I’m not one for parading them in front of the committee. It feels a little Dad’s Army for me.
The best way to deal with it is give them a wink once you’ve caught them out, with a slight dry smile and hold them to ransom at the bar, so you’re both winners.
They get away with the cheat and you get to blackmail them. Win win.
Mark Townsend: About 25 years ago my dad and I watched someone in the group ahead play foot golf with his ball for about two minutes to give himself a way out of some tree trouble.
It was odder still as we were watching from an elevated tee. He then did it at the next and then again two holes later.
We didn’t say anything but my dad, quite pleasantly and away from his mates, asked him at the end whether he was going to hand his card in.
He then went to pieces, couldn’t apologise enough and I can’t remember ever seeing him again.
I played last week and one friend accused another straight out of incorrectly marking his ball and then quoted various examples. It was a bit uncomfortable for a while but it did the job. I think I preferred my dad’s method.
SC: Is this something that golfers themselves can enforce, without the need to get the hierarchy involved? It soon gets around the clubhouse that a player has a reputation for not playing entirely by the rules.
Tom Lenton: There are loads of stories of people shooting a course record playing with their granddad in a non-qualifier.
Word gets round and they often leave the club, probably through guilt.
JM: I think if the word gets round that they are known to be a bit dodgy, then whenever you play with them you are going to be keep a keen eye on them, which in turn makes it a lot harder for them to cheat. I think that way is far more effective way of dealing with it instead of running to the hierarchy.
JS: Naming and shaming in the clubhouse is the best way to deal with it. They’ll either be in denial and defend themselves or join another club.
MT: Over 30 years ago one school friend, who was a dreadful cheat, hit a yellow DDH ball into a copse of trees and played out with one of those Ping half white/half orange balls.
SC: I once played in a celebrity golf day where players were told to add 25 per cent to their handicap because the rest of the field was at it. How many times have you played in an event where the winning score for a betterball is more than 100 points?
Craig Middleton: How I would react if I think someone has cheated is different to how I would react if I knew for a fact someone had cheated.
If I only had a suspicion I’d keep a close eye on them but would not feel comfortable calling them out over it.
If, however, I saw them cheat and it was blatant I’d certainly go and speak to them in the usual calm manner I have when I’m not happy about something.
Dan Murphy: We shouldn’t forget that golf is, largely, a self-policing sport.
Let’s face it, there are hundreds of opportunities to cheat in every round if you are so inclined.
Ultimately, it comes down to the individual. If Mark is kicking one out from behind a tree, or Steve is preferring it in the rough or Tom is dropping one down his trouser leg or James is moving his marker nearer to the hole or Craig is claiming one score when he knows he got another then that’s up to them.
I just think people who pull these stunts will quickly find themselves with very few friends.
What would you do think? How would you react if you thought someone was cheating?