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Is Cheating Rife In Golf

By Robert Hardie August 01, 2023 16 comments

Golf has always been rooted in respect for the Rules and trust, which is why cheating is THE MOST emotive subject in our game.

Justin Doeden’s recent admission that he cheated, reducing his score to try to make the cut in a PGA Tour Canada event, made headlines mainly because it’s so rare in a professional event for someone to think no-one’s going to spot what they’ve done.

Professional golf, even at relatively low levels, has multiple cameras and replays, plus scorers with every group and roving officials on carts or buggies.

Not so amateur golf, sadly, where the only people present can often be the player and his or her partner.

A guy at one of my clubs was recently called out by a playing partner for moving his ball in the rough...  his response was simple: “So what? People cheat all the time!”.

I may have just been incredibly lucky, but in my experience that’s simply not true.

Cheating is incredibly rare, which is why the attitude that permeates many a group of casual golfers – that everyone should be regarded as a cheat unless they can prove they’re not – is as petty as it’s counterproductive.

Of course, “cheating” can be subjective: crossing out a 7 and writing a 5 in its place is cut-and-dried, and Doeden will be branded by the incident now, just as Patrick Reed may find himself, after numerous incidents.

But what about not really trying too hard so your handicap index goes up a shot and you get a better chance of winning some money off your mates – is that cheating?

Don’t be shy though: if you suspect someone isn’t playing by the rules then report them to the Committee or call them out yourself.

If I’m playing in a competition with someone who’s apparently not too accurate with their scoring, I’ll always arrange to mark their card, and when they hole out I'll say “good six” before they get a chance to tell me it was a five.

Ultimately, golf is better and more enjoyable for being based on trust, than sports that put an umpire or a referee in place and if they don't see an incident then it’s all good and accepted.

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  • There are the odd senior who’s memory gets the better or them when they add up their shots on a hole, but I know of a few “Golfers “ who totally manipulate their handicaps and then go on to play in pairs opens so that they can’t be cut. Is is not time that both scores must be entered on the cards, so they can be cut to the correct handicap, but only the best score counts.

    Steven Lukins on

  • The worst cheating is when a player manipulates his handicap,ie,plays a mediocre round in weekly comps,then plays like a demon on a lower handicap for major club comps.I’m a struggling 21/22,and it really annoys me when these people beat the better players,with ridiculous scores.

    Pat Doherty on

  • I play with a boy most Sundays. Does not cheat but constantly turns up with no fags. Every week! “Can I have a snout son?” “Did you bring fags son” absolutely sick of it.

    Grant on

  • I play with a boy. Goes by the name of Craig MacLean. Cheating b**tard

    Beany on

  • A few years ago I was playing in a club comp and was tending pin on a green and looking back down the fairway.

    Playing behind was another group coming down hill of same hole and 1 of the group was unsighted to his playing partners. Just then the leather wedge appeared and a huge kick got his ball out of the 2nd cut and into the fairway about 30 yards further on.

    I asked one of my playing partners if he had seen that and he said he had, so we reported it when we got back to clubhouse. From that point on the cheating member was known as Kicker.

    Fast forward a few weeks and myself and my playing partner who had seen the incident were drawn to play with Kicker. On about the 5th hole he played a great approach and I congratulated him by shouting over ‘nice shot Kicker’ 🤦‍♂️🤣

    Much awkwardness then ensued when he asked what I had said and both myself and my other playing partner explained what was said and why.

    This frosty atmosphere continued to the 9th where he walked off and a few weeks later he left the club.

    Joe Wilson on

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