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Does Golf Have A Cheating Problem?

By Shopify API August 01, 2023 5 comments

Does Golf Have A Cheating Problem?

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.

We want to hear from you.

Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts on those who cheat, what punishments should be handed out and if you think cheating is a common problem in the sport.

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  • I am split on this topic. agree that tournament play should abide strictly by the rules. Otherwise, the integrity of the game is compromised. usually, in tournament play, the course is in top condition. however in casual play the course can be in pretty dismal shape; compacted sand in the bunkers; bare spots in the fairways; etc, etc. Golf is hard enough and you should not be punished by hitting a good shot only to be placed in an untenable situation by a compromised course condition.

    terry on

  • I know many of you would refer to this as cheating but for me it’s common sense. I refuse to play out of a green side bunker that is not properly maintained. I cannot tell you the last time my home course has turned over the sand. You are left with wet compacted sand that for an amateur becomes an impossible shot. Clearly a professional would not be playing under these conditions. I treat it as ground under repair and take a drop as close to the spot where the ball entered. Let’s get real when was the last time on your local course have you seen blighted areas marked as GUR or needed to putt through a dead area on the green. Non of these conditions are typically found on a course that has been set up for tournament play for any of the professionals. The course should take it upon itself to have local rules allowing free drops out of clearly damaged or disrepaired areas on the course. Just my two cents. I know I can’t quote the rule book chapter and verse. Even the pros can’t. They often ask for a rules official for their interpretation of a given lie and what type of relief they are entitled to. I typically refer to who I’m playing with as to wether relief is justified or not.

    Bill Lauginiger on

  • If someone is cheating on the golf course to me that means they are doing the same thing off the golf course

    Donald Zambito on

  • This might be a hybrid, definitely not professional but maybe a step up from our usual weekend matches.
    I played in a regional amateur tournament, real rules, real officials. Second day I was paired with 2 guys giving each other putts. I mentioned something and their comments were along the lines of “who cares it’s a gimme”
    When done I refused to sign his card. He got all bent out of shape. Was for sure cheating in my and I assume everyone’s book, everyone but them anyway. It was a very uncomfortable round. They were both DQ.

    Randy on

  • My bets are modest therefore fun and not in need of a referee. That’s the best way to keep your mind on your game and much less on others. Plenty of folks roll the ball, take practice swings that clear the surrounding landscape, offer good good putts, and remember their four putts as a three putt. If I was so self righteous as to only play with folks with impeccable etiquette/manners and adherence to rules I fear I would be without golf partners. Golf for most of us is a battle with ourselves and not with others. It’s a big part of what I love about the game. If we cheat others we cheat ourselves. Reality means we have to accept our errors as well as our good fortunes and folks that don’t see it that way, we’ll that’s on them, not on us. If we need the golf police or nominate ourselves for that role the fun is tainted. Good good?

    Jeffrey on

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