Cheating and Golf

Frank,

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.
Lenny
NY

Lenny,
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
Frank

20 thoughts on “Cheating and Golf

  1. It is so easy to make accusations, living in St. Louis, I had non Cardinal fans make all kinds of accusations about Pujols using PED’s. This is an athlete that took monthly tests to prove that he was clean but the skeptics would not accept this. I do not know if their are golfers that use PED’s, so I will not cast stones, and for some one that spreads rumors, it is in my humble opinion they are totally out of line.

  2. You know it happens in the NFL and College football, and at the high school football level. You know it happens in Professional Baseball. Probably happens in hockey, soccer, and tennis . It happens in track and field, wrestling, weight lifting, swimming, and probably many other sports as well. If it happens in those sports then it surely must happen in golf. Look at the stain that using PED’s and other drugs has put on Major League Baseball. If it happens at the highest level in all those sports, where players are always looking for an edge, to be bigger, faster, stronger, don’t think for a minute it doesn’t happen in professional golf. It is unfortunate but it is the world in which we currently live. Players at the highest level should be tested. When playing for millions of dollars each week and every year, cheating can be very tempting. Especially if your tour card is on the line or some other accomplishment that you have sought all your life is in reach. Make no mistake about it, cheating, no matter how it is accomplished, is still cheating. Its better to root out the cheating than to have a record book and sport damaged irreparably by even the hint of cheating. As Dan Lamont says – ” it’s sad to get old and cynical at the same time!!” Again, that is the world in which we now find ourselves. That is not to say everyone cheats, I am sure it is only a very few that may use PED’s in professional golf. Even if it is only one player, that one, is one too many.

  3. How many players use Adderall as prescribed as “medically necessary”, a Champions Tour player I know says jokingly the most important item in the older players back is Advil…also, beta-blockers being Rx’ed as medically necessary, and this is just the surface of what we know about, what is being used that is not even being tested for, do steroids improve visual acuity, everyone talks about strength, but, there has been rumors of visual improvement, will this help your putting, or, help you better to see and hit a baseball, face it, like it of not, PED’s are here to stay, also, is Lasik questionable…CGG…

  4. The pay off for using drugs is too great not to do so especially if you’re not to be held accountable. Unfortunately performance enhancing drugs will be used unless the penalty swiftly and surely exceeds the rewards.

  5. Frank I agree with your comments. There are players who cheat in the local games with friends, but I think there is very little cheating on PGA tour.

  6. What do you think of the following results of the latest PGA Tour Players Poll?

    http://www.golf.com/photos/pga-tour-players-anonymous-poll/tiger-woods-and-phil-mickelson#341407

    Have you ever witnessed another Tour pro cheat?
    Yes: 38%
    No: 62%

    Loose lips:

    “Yes, and it was knowingly. Everybody knows who he is, and everybody knows he does it.”

    “Yes, and it’s the same two players—it’s terrible.”

    “How many yeses do you have? Isn’t that crazy? You’d expect it in high school golf or something, but not out here.”

  7. We all know there’s at least one golfer using PEDs… the unnamed “Golfer from Orlando” implied in the Dr. Galiea case. That’s still one too many, but shows that it is possible.

  8. Performance enhancing drugs are probably expensive so those following that route must have a real financial interest in gaining an edge, but, in every human endeavor the desire to gain an edge has been well documented. Would a successful golfer go that route without a motivation? Probably not. However, with age and injuries the ability to continue to compete and to recover quickly after a round would be enticing to those with money and connections. Is golf immune to these temptations? Hardly.

  9. It is hard to play strict rules if you are a high handicapper and not play slow golf. Ex. Ball lost in woods rule distant plus stroke. Most player I know play a drop at point last seen going in woods. I usually play distant plus stroke and I also play a lot of provisional balls. If slow play is a problem than for week end players strict rules are part of the problem .

  10. Look at before and after photos of some of the golfers. They did not bulk up like that just by drinking milk shakes. Yes golfers do cheat, as do others in many sports, at all levels. Golf should be actively testing for PED’s and other drugs.

  11. Leon makes an exceptionally clear case and I strongly agree with his conclusion. As an old timer, I would love to “dance with what brung us”, but I fear the mores are changing very rapidly, and not for the better. Today’s youth would argue that statement, no doubt, but the cliche “a slippery slope” will apply to golf as it has to many other old fashioned standards. Would that it would be different, but I fear the “mess” Leon references is understated …. and our generation allowed it to start. Boy, it’s sad to get old and cynical at the same time!!

  12. The definition of “performance-enhancing” is a very slippery slope to look down upon, let alone attempt to scale it safely like the descent from the summit of Everest. Where is the line drawn, and by whom ? A cup of coffee en route to the 8am recreational league may be, to some, “performance-enabling”, while others may see a dose of Tylenol or Advil at the turn to be “enhancing” or “enabling”, depending on who is asking and whom is asked. The obvious stuff like anabolic steroids and human growth hormone may be enhancements to football and baseball players, but not golfers, as we don’t need as much physical bulk (beef on the bones) to crush our little balls like those guys crush theirs, or each other. I would agree that the “condition of competition” clause was added just as a legal technicality to be in conformance with the rest of the Olympics, but look at the Vijay Singh controversy … Like so many other aspects of our lives today that are fractured compared to their ideals, or how founding fathers envisioned things, how long can golf remain immune from the mess?

  13. If the PGA doesn’t conduct random testing, doping will become a major problem for our sport. Do it NOW before doping gets out of control. You know several PGA players are rumored to be doping already.

    • I totally agree. A set of agreed upon rules as mentioned above not only speeds up the game but also makes it more enjoyable.

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