Cheating and Golf


After our conversation about Drug Testing last week I felt the need to let you know that I believe that all competitive golfers should be tested for drug use, because if given a chance golfers will cheat at every level of golf.
If you believe that golfers are honest, then you are naive and have more faith in humankind than it deserves.
The only way people will abide by the rules is for them to know that they may be caught if they don’t.

I did enjoy the exchange but would like to reiterate my position and will only reluctantly accept your accusation, if our Frankly Friends agree with you.

Do golfers cheat?

My answer is YES if they violate a set of rules, agreed to by those who are participating in the competition, be it a weekend friendly four ball match or the US Open.

If we all agree with a set of modified rules which include; a) conceding all putts within the leather, b) a mulligan on the first hole, c) dropping as close to where you believe the ball went OB, (with a stroke penalty), d) rolling it over in the fairway; then these are our set of modified rules for our competition.

If these rules – our modified version – are clearly understood by all involved in the competition – be it a weekend four-ball or our XYZ Company outing — then as long as we abide by them we are not cheating. However, we are still obliged to abide by our modified rules.

With the above extraordinary modifications — but common exceptions to the Rules — in place, we then move a ball in the rough to get a better lie, — knowingly violating one of the Rules of Golf and which is not include as an exception in our rules — then we are CHEATING.

In most cases, we are cheating ourselves but more important we are violating the Spirit of the Game;

“Golf is played in the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other competitors and to abide by the Rules. … ”

This is what distinguishes golf from other games and calling ourselves on infractions is the very foundation on which the game is built.

Now for the Drug Testing issue: If we had a rule in the book which clearly stated, “Performance enhancing substances are not permitted” I believe that we don’t need any testing of any body irrespective of whether they are members of our four-ball or competitors in the US Open – we don’t need a referee or an umpire to monitor what we do as long as we know right from wrong.

We are now – in 2016 — going to rely on the intent of the golfer to determine if he/she is anchoring the putter—great news. Why can’t we do the same thing when it comes to performance enhancing substances?

I may be naïve but we play golf because we are challenging ourselves and few, if any, golfers are really cheats unless this is a flaw in their character, and then they do so in every other walk of life.

Note: There is a condition of competition in “Appendix I 9. Anti-doping. The committee may require, in the conditions of competition, that player comply with the anti-doping policy”. I believe that this condition has been adopted in order for golf to be included in the Olympics. However, this now implies that we distrust golfers and “This undermines the premise on which the game is built, and we gain nothing in return.” ( From Sticks and Stones.)

Introducing referees (testing agents) to guard against cheaters and not relying on their integrity to abide by the rules is fracturing the foundation of our game.

Please let me know what you think

20 thoughts on “Cheating and Golf

  1. I think this is another example where we should have bifurcation. Of course pro golfers should be tested. When you are paid millions of dollars, the incentives cloud your judgement. We already have, for all intent and purposes, referees at the pro level. We call them TV watchers.

    But, below pro, at the amateur level, a woman’s word [or a man’s] should be good enough.

  2. As a public course player for 40 years, we have to play by a modified set of rules in order to keep play going. How many times have you hit a drive off the tee which everyone saw land in the right rough, but nobody could find when you reached the right rough? Now what? There is a group waiting on the tee and you are supposed to go back 200 plus yards and play another ball? If it was the PGA tour the patrons would tell you where it went. Should this be a penalty when the ball did not go OB, in water, or in the woods? I agree with Frank that as long as the group agrees to rules, then they are not cheating.. If the USGA and the PGA tour want to speed up play then its time they look in the mirror at the rules and start penalizing slow players – how can twosomes take four hours on Sunday afternoon?

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