October 19, 2009

Spotting Those Cheeky Cheaters...

I know a guy that I call "The Lucky Bastard" - he's the guy who always gets the best possible lie when he hits his ball in the rough, his ball always stops just before a hazard line, or if it falls in the hazard, it's always playable. He also never loses a ball in the woods, not even when his slices go rocketing into and off of the trees like a pinball. Two minutes of looking, and it's right there -- and always with a convenient path through the trees. He never whiffs, not even when his club passes beneath his ball on a swing, because, hey, that was a practice swing.

What a Lucky Bastard that guy is.

Right. And I am the Queen of France.

He's a cheating SOB and a sandbagger besides, since he never turns in his good scores. Those are the ones where money or a club tournament was on the line, and somehow, it just "slips" his mind to enter in that 77 when he passes by the club's handicap computer on his way to the bar to gloat about his good fortune. But when he's out on the course messing around -- shooting a 98 in the process -- well, he makes sure that those get put in ASAP. It might lower than 19 Index he's working real hard to change!

Guys like that are the ones you never want to play a Nassau against, and one that you never want to be in any club tournament. (For the record, Lucky Bastard is not a member of my club.) Golf is a special sport because the players are their own referees, and they ostensibly call penalties on themselves. It is a game of honor, and honor is the games lifeblood. Too bad the Lucky Cheating Bastard never got the memo. Or more likely, that he tore it up and never read it when it was given to him.

Sure, you could follow the Cheating Bastard around the course and call him out every time he breaks the rules of golf. After all, it's your money he's trying to steal.

But what of your own game and your own ball and your mental state? It's hard to think about where your shots are going when you spend too much time making sure that the Cheating Bastard doesn't tee it up in the fairway or fish his ball out of a creek.

Here's some Cheating Bastard MO, And How You Can Help Him Find The Path To Righteousness:

Always a Good Lie

Nudging a ball to a better lie is one of the great temptations of golf. Unless your competition allows pick and place, you're supposed to play the ball where it happens to be laying. The Cheating Bastard has no problem with moving his ball out of a divot in the fairway, out of a footprint in the sand or three inches to the left or right on the green so he won't have to putt over a spike mark.

It's hard to detect this unless you watch carefully, but if you are in a foursome, three honest players can do a fairly good job of catching the Cheating Bastard's ball nudges. Trick is to do it early in a round and let Cheating Bastard know that you're keeping your eyes on him. If he knows that, he's less likely to move his ball around...as often, anyway.

Always Go The Lost And Found

We all hit bad shots from time to time and lose our golf ball. It happens to Tiger and it happens to you. But it never happens to the Cheating Bastard. He can go into the Amazonian jungle and after 30 seconds, he'll be ready to hit his ball with a clear shot to the green.

Be a good friend and help him out. After all, good sportsmanship is part of the game, right? Thing is, stay close and watch carefully. Make sure that he doesn't find his ball...in his pocket.

One time, we helped Cheating Bastard out in the woods, and just as he announced that he had found his ball, we spotted his real shot. Since we were a little weary of his antics, we let him hit the wrong ball and play out to what he thought was a par. Then one of the fellows fished up his real ball and asked him if that happened to be his. Since Cheating Bastard had never played the course we were on that day, he had nothing to say. Stone cold caught, he was. He got mighty quiet for a long time after that.

Can You Tell Him How To Get To Sesame Street?

1,2,3,4,5,5. "Mark me down for a five. Damned shame I took bogey there," the Lucky Bastard lamented on his way back to the cart.

Except he had three putted. After missing the green and chipping up and on. Oops. Since Cheating Bastard is a busy guy, he's probably had a wee bit of his education slip out of the ole memory and he might need some help there. Re-teaching him how to count would be your civic duty here, citizen. He may be college educated and a fine CPA, after all, but sometimes, we all can use those little refresher courses.

We All Need Boundaries In Life

Poor Cheating Bastard has bad eyesight or depth perception, and it sure looks to him like it is just inbounds. He's going to play it on from there, hang on a sec.

Few things are more annoying on a golf course than a ball you hit that went awry and landed just out of bounds. There's that penalty stroke and having to hit again from the original spot, but it is what it is, even if the ball is only just an inch on the wrong side of the stakes. For my own sanity, I have started keeping a little pocket laser pointer in my bag to double-check the straight line between two points, points like O.B. Stakes. I got it as a gift at a trade show and it's useful for those times.

Fortunately, my parents taught me to share, and I feel a child-like joy in helping Cheating Bastard determine if his ball really is just inbounds or just out. Ooops, we'll wait for you here while you go back.

Now Hiring: Data Entry Position

Recording all of their scores for handicap purposes is the responsibility of each player. That doesn't mean that you have to do it yourself, mind you, just that it gets done promptly and accurately. That's why we always told Cheating Bastard that we'd put his scores in for him and meet him at the 19th Hole in a few minutes. He hated that. Especially because we always made him buy the first round and then, "ooops, look at the time - gotta go!"


  1. Charles, do you ever get the feeling we are beating a dead horse?

    Lemme tellya story? A few friends of mine at my club still belong to golf leagues outside the club. These are the guys who approached me when I took over the handicap committee and the golf committee. To a man, they told me, "It's about F...ing time somebody starts looking at this crap".

    These leagues simply do not have the problems we have. They police themselves and spare no feelings. You cheated. One warning. People in your foursome are warned also. Next time - see ya later to any of them. They do not care what the USGA says, their handicap systems works and they can change when they want.

    Our board wanted the handicap problem fixed and the tournament (same guys always winning) problem fixed. But, when presented with very mild solutions, declined for fear of offending longtime friends, neighbors and, yes, even relatives. We did implement systems that have dramatically improved the score posting and a few changes for how we 'handicap' past winners, but, it will never be fixed.

    You are 100% right. They are not 'sandbaggers'. They don't use a 'foot-wedge'. They do not miscount. They are not uncertain of the rules. They are cheaters. CHEATERS...

  2. Yes I'm inclined to agree with Charles that the lucky bastard type will always be looking for the next opportunity to cheat. We play with one and we've stone cold caught him cheating on numerous occasions. Even when he was called out and had to admit that he'd cheated, he was right back at it the next round. Now we just accept that he won't change... because he won't. We and others avoid playing with him but on those occasions when he makes his way into our foursome for some reason, we no longer pay much attention.

    However, I do think your suggestions would be highly effective on relative new comers who are just learning the ways of cheating. If that kind of behavior can be caught early (instead of overlooked) the newbie may not hone his cheating skill and harden his cheating habits to the point where it's beyond hope. ;o)

  3. Fabulous and very funny post Charles!

    I have so much to say, but I don't want to bog down your blog.

    This is part of why I want to be a single-digit index. Screw handicaps! Let's play straight up.

    Sure I took a good beat down during the final round of our club championship, but I was playing a 3 (I was almost a 15) in match play without strokes. Hey, I kept her in it until the 15th hole and then I learned what the term "dormie" meant. OUCH!

    But I'd rather be in the champ flight playing gross than winning with a phony-bobo 23-index.



Have something to say? We'd love to hear it.