The MHSAA could have used PGA Tour rules official Slugger White at its controversial regional tournament May 30 where two teams might have shaved strokes to advance to states.  (Getty Images )

Michigan incident shines a spotlight on cheating in golf

Golf is a game of honor.

One of its greatest virtues is that golf relies primarily on its players, not referees, to administer rules and ensure that a given competition plays out fairly for all.

But that virtue seems to be a bit under fire recently.

According to a piece in the Detroit Free Press, two Michigan high school teams might have colluded to sign for drastically lower-than-usual scores in order to get into their division's state tournament.

You should read the piece (here), but here's the short version:

1. Two schools, Baltimore Anchor Bay and Harrison Township L'Anse Creuse, finished 1-2 in regional qualifying for the state Division I high school tournament at Twin Lakes Golf Club earlier this spring. They shot 284 and 296, respectively, in that qualifier. As in college tournaments, five players competed for each team, and the sum of the lowest four scores counted. Anchor Bay had two players shoot 68, while L'Anse Creuse's four players shot between 72 and 77.

2. In the state championship, both teams posted significantly - and suspiciously - higher scores, finishing second-to-last and last, respectively, at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University. How different were these scores? The two Anchor Bay players who signed for 68s in the regional tournament shot 93 and 105 in the first round at The Meadows. Their teams shot 385 and 401, respectively, in that round. They ultimately finished an embarrassing 140 and 179 strokes behind Division I winning team Grosse Pointe South.

How did this happen? It turns out Anchor Bay and L'Anse Creuse were paired together at that regional tournament with Fraser High School, which also returned suspiciously low scores but not low enough to get through to the state tournament. Apparently Fraser's players didn't cheat hard enough.

The main victims of this deception seem to be the teams from the Rochester Adams and Bloomfield schools, who finished fourth and fifth (and by all accounts played within their normal abilities), just outside state tournament qualification, in the disputed May 30th qualifier.

What's most disturbing about this story is that, according to some people with experience in junior golf recently, it is far from an isolated incident. Brian Cairns, a Michigan teaching pro whose students include several competitive junior players, said "I hear about [score-shaving] not once a year, a lot of times each year. Even in the junior tournaments in the state, and in the country."

Are golf's high standards of honor under siege?

If this is true, then we've got a big problem brewing in competitive golf. Anyone who watches World Cup soccer in the coming month will see tons of dives, faked injuries and dirty plays designed to gain an advantage over one's opponent. Almost inevitably, a pitcher in Major League Baseball will get thrown out of a game for having too much pine tar on his arm or behind his ear. But the notion of a Tour or PGA Tour player signing for a 67 when he really shot 72 is so outlandish that most fans of the game would probably laugh it off.

Sure, there have been instances of eyebrow-raising rule-bending, including this Golf Digest piece, but until now, the adage about yelling "Fore!" making a six and writing down a five has always been one of the game's well-worn jokes.

In light of this Michigan high school cheating scandal, it doesn't seem as funny.

It would be unlikely for this phenomenon to be limited to just one state. If you have a junior golfer, chances are some of his or her opponents might be trying to fleece the field. You need to be vigilant and preach vigilance in order to force this behavior out of the shadows. It will require an uncomfortable confrontation, but if golf is going to continue to assert that it is a game of honor, its players need to preserve the covenant that the high standard requires.

Having played competitive golf, from local and regional junior tournaments up through college and beyond, since about 2000, I can only recall one clear instance of cheating that I witnessed. I had another player disqualified once from a junior tournament in Massachusetts. He hacked the ball around all day and couldn't possibly have broken 90. I wasn't his marker, but I had been paying some attention to his play - enough to be certain that he didn't shoot the 77 that had gone up on the scoreboard next to his name, after we'd signed our cards. I went to the scorers, pointed out that he made a 4 on a hole where he signed for a 3 and that was enough to DQ him. It was an awkward and tense few minutes, but I felt compelled to protect the field. Who knows how many times he'd gotten away with similar behavior on the course?

The incident I witnessed was in individual play, and I can see it happening here and there (unfortunately). But it's difficult to conceive of the sort of coordinated dishonesty it took for Anchor Bay, L'Anse Creuse and Fraser to pull off their stunt, not to mention the brazen stupidity of so obviously deflating scores. Did they think no one would notice the difference in their scores when they were paired with other teams at the state tournament?

PGA Tour competitive ethics talk of late has focused on "backstopping," where players selectively mark or leave their balls near the hole while another player chips up, potentially helping to keep the chipping player's ball from wandering too far from the hole if it runs into the unmarked one.

Debate on backstopping continues with talk of integrity

It's a little harder to call this "cheating" outright - certainly it's more nebulous than blatant score-changing - but in light of more obvious examples of the sort of cheating behavior that golf likes to hold itself above, it's worth being concerned that we're at the top of a slippery slope.

If you play competitive golf - be it a member tournament at your club or a state amateur or open - keep in mind that you and every other player have a responsibility to protect the field. This sometimes requires you to get in an awkward and adversarial situation. The Russian proverb popularized in America by President Ronald Reagan of "Trust, but verify" is a great thought to keep in mind. "If you see something, say something" makes good sense, too.

If it's true that the Anchor Bay, L'Anse Creuse and Fraser teams colluded to get into the state championship, the Michigan State High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) should throw the book at the coaches and ban the teams from postseason play for a couple years at the very least. This might be the worst example of cheating in golf that I've heard of.

Have you been involved in any major incidents of cheating on the golf course? Feel free to air them out in the comments below.

Jun 12, 2018

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Lieutenant Colonel Terrence Flynn's avatar
Lieutenant Colonel Terrence Flynn wrote at 2018-06-18 17:58:04+00:00:

If there is a way to actually prove the cheating, then the coaches should be forever banned from coaching again as a start. There is no room for that kind of behavior in teaching or sport by an adult period! Terrible way to teach any game to young people. As for the players, they should be banned from playing for at least one year and if seniors, the NCAA and NAIA should be notified. The consequences should hurt for this action.

Chris 's avatar
Chris wrote at 2018-06-18 08:13:18+00:00:

I worked at a club that held a similar event. A kid hit ball OB by 4 inches in a play off and the other kids dad picked up the ball and said “sorry your ball was OB.” Of course they asked for a ruling in the Proshop so we called the USGA Rules Department. Reply and I will tell you their findings. It will be an eye opener.

duffy moran's avatar
duffy moran wrote at 2018-06-21 15:17:31+00:00:

interested in the usga response

H Jessen's avatar
H Jessen wrote at 2018-06-22 02:23:01+00:00:

Interested in USGA response, although I have very little respect for the USGA.

StevenAEddy's avatar
StevenAEddy wrote at 2018-06-22 04:27:46+00:00:

what were their findings? thanks

Dave's avatar
Dave wrote at 2018-06-17 15:10:28+00:00:

if you play for fun,, not a tourney, not for a true handicap, yes, myself and hundreds of thousands of people " move" our ball out of a rough patch, "plump it up" a bit, wipe it off ( dirt on the ball which isnt allowed under PGA rules anywhere but the green near as i know ).. we want to make a good shot. we KNOW our score isnt "true".. but it feels good to not screw up another shot just for the sake of "playing it as it lies".

That being said.. if its for handicap, or a tourney, or a friendly skins game.. every shot counts. every water hazard is played, every OOB ball is brought back to hit 3 off the tee, and the ball is only moved when ground under repair or a manmade hazard, or other "Course" rules that are in play can be applied.

There are "mulligans", which arent a real thing, but everyone, and i mean EVERYONE has used or given one. but match play, team play, etc... these coaches are teaching kids that scamming the game, is OK. yet ultimately they lack the skills to back up the scam, apparently by a long shot, or I should say " missed shots". thats not just embarassing, thats disgraceful conduct by the Coach, who should be fired and banned from any competitive sport at the H.S. level in that state.

Let that get hung around their necks for life..

If it was my kid, and they cheated on their score to beat out legitimate winners of that qualifier, I would ban them from the course for a year. take away their cell phone for a month except for emergency calls, and cancel ANY after school activities for at least a month or two, friends parties, etc..

thats a pure violation of honor in a game that is BUILT on the honor system..

wanna play for fun ?? go ahead... but not when it HAS TO COUNT..

Joe's avatar
Joe wrote at 2018-06-15 19:39:59+00:00:

I don't play by the rules, I play for enjoyment of being out doors, company and relaxation. I do not play in tournaments or carry a handicap nor do i play for money. I am not a pro and the game doesn't warrant all the frustration and nitpicking being described in these comments. What I shoot is immaterial and I sleep very well after playing a game of "i don't care".

Ann's avatar
Ann wrote at 2018-06-15 17:28:29+00:00:

I am a “rules Nazi” with myself—every stroke counts, all rules observed. I go out without a group most of the time because of my schedule. I resent not being able to turn in those scores for handicapping. When I am teamed with someone, they cheat take mulligans, hit warm up balls that don’t count. It infuriates me that people like me can only turn our scores in when we are supervised by the cheats. Wake up there is too little honesty left —golf is just one more institution to be ripped down.

Dave's avatar
Dave wrote at 2018-06-17 15:22:09+00:00:

i get it, you want to play 100% straight up... not everyone does.. i dont.. not always.. i DO more than I dont, but, there are times i AM moving my ball ( NOT in a match or handicap game ), wiping it clean, etc. i want to enjoy the game. i am NOT a low handicap player.. wish I was. shoulder issues make that pretty much impossible.

I DO want to enjoy the game for as long as i can..and part of that is NOT shooting from a soggy bunker, or off a hard patch of dirt when you are adjacent a fluffy low rough, or hitting from right behind a tree, etc..

yes, in a game that counts, i follow every rule, every courtesy I can remember. If I am in doubt, i ask.

But if you are partnered with someone just for fun, trying to make THEIR day less fun because YOU want to play the game straight up, doesnt make them evil, just means their scores dont count. you know it, they know it.. so why get your knickers in a twist over it ?? enjoy the company, maybe you show them how the game is played, maybe they think twice about taking mulligans when they see you going " no, thats ok,,, thats my shot, i'll play it, just like my dad always made me do" or something like that.. if you dont SHOW off your "rules adherence " play, thats a shame.. it does get others to think, ( ok, maybe ) that maybe cut back on the mulligans, stop moving their balls all the time, etc.. this isnt Caddyshack..

but, when people are just playing for fun, let them have their fun, your acting as if they are driving a car across the greens in Augusta, not weekend players just out for a fun time..

YOU.. arent being supervised, you are simply playing with other people so you can turn in a legit handicap score.. right ?? what THEY do has ZERO impact on your score, and they WONT get away with that play in any tournament or match or skins play etc.. so again.. why bother ?? if they dont want to test their game that day, then again.. who cares ?? YES, i do prefer to try and keep the game "straight up", but, if , like me, you are just teaching someone knew the shots of the game, I still tell them " Ok, we are here for practice, you need to learn how to make good shots off of a decent lie LONG before you start playing out of rough, hilly lies, deep bunkers, tricky draw shots, etc, so we are moving your ball here" and say NO this isnt allowed under golf rules, but we are doing this to get you familiar with just playing golf. My Dad was a PGA rule Wikipedia all by himself. knew every rule you could think of. when i was taught how to play, first was courtesy off the tee, speed of play, courtesy at the green... THEN I learned how to play, then, he introduced the rules .. here and there.. if i had a question, he answered it. he would have me move my ball off a crappy hard pan lie, so I didnt mess up the next 1 or 2 shots.

people STILL want to do that, so maybe back off the Rules Nazi Tank and remember that people just PLAYING helps keep good courses open..

HS's avatar
HS wrote at 2018-06-15 16:40:16+00:00:

This is a cautionary tale. I cheated in a high school tournament 50+ years ago. I did it not to win but to turn in a better score than a nasty kid from a rival school. Unfortunately, shaving two strokes off my score qualified me for the state championship, and I was too embarrassed to turn myself in for cheating. After the state tournament, in which I played well, I was so upset with myself that I self-imposed a ten year ban on playing golf, because nothing is as important as impeccable honor. The guilt was awful, and I paid what I thought was an appropriate price. I later recycled my trophy for the false score, replacing the plaque and donating it to an area tournament. After I began playing golf ten years later, cheating was unthinkable! Nothing is worth a guilty conscience. I keep an impeccable handicap, win my share of events, enjoy the game and the competition, and I take my good days and bad days on the course in stride. Golf is a GAME to be played and enjoyed. Cheers.

Gary murphy's avatar
Gary murphy wrote at 2018-06-15 08:38:27+00:00:

I have watched and been involved with Jnr Golf in Scotland for a number of years and some of the cheating I have witnessed haas been a combination of blatant and lack of familiarity with the rules. It is a reflection of society where instant gratification is constantly sought. Something that the game of Golf just doesn’t have in its gift.

Frog's avatar
Frog wrote at 2018-06-15 15:38:02+00:00:

I concur, and I don't know how you feel, but if I make one great shot or put a round I am just fine, and that happens at least once or more a round.

Jack Dunphy's avatar
Jack Dunphy wrote at 2018-06-15 02:12:12+00:00:

Played in a member guest 2 years ago. My partner hit a ball far right on a par 3 I was about 20 yards away.

When he was coming to select a club, our opponent was trailing behind. My partner got back to his ball it was imbedded.

Clearly our opponent had stepped on the ball, but I was too far away to call him on it. Very disappointed

Kennneth's avatar
Kennneth wrote at 2018-06-15 01:37:34+00:00:

The coaches had to be co-conspirators. They should have been fired.

David Dering's avatar
David Dering wrote at 2018-06-14 23:07:28+00:00:

I have been subjected to this. I was playing in my annual golf mini break with a friend, and he lost two balls off the tee. I reminded him that his 3rd shot, was in actual fact his 5th shot, because of the two penalties he incurred. He challenged it, and said to me "wait a sec, let me think about that." Well I said to him "there is nothing to think about, you've been playing this game for longer than me, and surely you must know what a penalty shot is and what the the penalties are to retake your shots?" I just got told to "shush", "ok I know now". I challenged him and said "I wonder how many shots you have shaved off your score in other games we have played previously, if you appear to have only discovered this now?" This guy knows the rules and is an avid fan of Tiger Woods too, but is a sore looser too. I do play with honor, truth, sincerity and integrity, despite my not so great scores, but I question when I play people like that, who are supposed to be your friend too, if it is all worth it. Look out for this one, people pretending they forgot the rules to get a better score, and non disclosure of it too, unless you question it. Should we be questioning and tracking the score of our opponents at every hole and shot they take, or has the trust gone? I have enough trouble tracking my own score let alone micro managing my opponents score.

carlwillden's avatar
carlwillden wrote at 2018-06-14 20:38:42+00:00:

Cheating in golf is not just a recent thing ,it has been happening for years. The biggest problem I have seen is sandbagging .Players have been caught shooting low seventies and reporting high eighties . When they get caught the punishment is a joke .their handicap cards should be revoked for a long period of time ,but that never happens and the cheating continues .

Betsy Shoenfelt's avatar
Betsy Shoenfelt wrote at 2018-06-14 18:08:01+00:00:

Violating rules on the golf course is not a new phenomenon. Check out this research study from 1984.

Erffmeyer, E. S. (1984). Rule-violating behavior on the golf course. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 59(2), 591-596.


An unobtrusive observation technique was used to record the rule-violating behavior of 150 male golfers on a public golf course. The number of Ss in a group as well as the type and frequency of rule violations were recorded. An indirect measure of skill (i.e., the number of strokes) was also recorded for each S. Analysis indicated that 50% of the Ss violated at least 1 of the rules set forth by the US Golf Association. There was a significant relationship between the number of Ss in the group and the number of rule violations, as there was between Ss' skill and the number of rule violations. Results support the notion that normative pressures are a source of motivation for violating constitutive rules. The psychological state of deindividuation is discussed as a factor accounting for the positive relationship between group size and frequency of rule violations. Sports conditions are examined in terms of 3 conditions regarded as necessary for motivation: knowledge of results, a feeling of responsibility for the outcome of performance, and experienced meaningfulness of the task. (10 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Richie Rich's avatar
Richie Rich wrote at 2018-06-14 17:17:57+00:00:

I see several players put there ball marker in front of the ball and place there ball in front of the marker when it becomes time for them to putt. Only inches.....but it’s cheating!!! Who knows what they are doing when no one is watching.

David.'s avatar
David. wrote at 2018-06-14 16:45:47+00:00:

We have a man on my golf course who cheats regularly, and is a very low handicapper, in Worksop UK

He hits a longish ball, and if he hits a bad one he rushes up to where it might be, and wow..........he will find it !!!!

We have not been quick enough to catch him yet, but need two people to verify it.

Jimbo's avatar
Jimbo wrote at 2018-06-14 16:36:50+00:00:

We had a guy at our club who cheated regularly. The committee decided to expel him, he arrived with a doctors line saying he had a medical condition that would not let him lose!!!

Also I recently played a medal and I called myself because I felt the ball brush my shirt. The two guys I was playing with said and I quote “you’re not counting that are you “. Duh yea, although it does make me wonder if they would have done the same.

Rod's avatar
Rod wrote at 2018-06-14 16:30:32+00:00:

In an Open pairs competition, I have heard of two players of say 8 and 20 handicap playing off each other’s Handicaps. There was also the idiot who hooked his ball towards o.o.b. and the rough. When “found” the white ball had become yellow.

Charlie's avatar
Charlie wrote at 2018-06-14 15:46:29+00:00:

Not posting good scotes yo keep handicap up is eberywhere!

NEIL's avatar
NEIL wrote at 2018-06-14 14:32:28+00:00:


I subbed in a league where the long ball hitter favored a strong left hit. It was on my home course and I know that hitting near a left side tree, automatically meant out-of-bounds. He hit left of the tree by at least 10 yards. After he and his partner looked for the ball, they mysteriously found it sitting just inches in bounds in plain sight. This took place in two of nine holes. I suggested to my partner that we should "help" them look for their ball.

LD Collins's avatar
LD Collins wrote at 2018-06-14 08:48:37+00:00:

I coached a small Christian school golf team in Eufaula, OK (2015-2017). We were allowed to compete through a secular school nearby as Jr and Sr boys and girls. Before we ever experienced competitive play I taught and ingrained in our kids the importance of honesty, integrity, and good sportsmanship of the game of golf. I was overwhelmed when I saw the level of cheating and dishonesty among the young players and how it affected our players. Yes they were young and the thought process may be “hey, there just kids, they’ll come out of it”, No, they won’t! This is where it is learned and ingrained, they will develope integrity or the lack of it! We no longer play competitive golf in the public school system which is a shame because I had some guys with remarkable ability.

Graham Perry - London UK's avatar
Graham Perry - London UK wrote at 2018-06-14 05:27:56+00:00:

A group of higher handicappers from a golf Club - average handicap 19 - played two rounds on an overnight Away Day. It cost to participate and to travel and time was set aside. It was friendly but it was competitive. There were money prizes.

I was in a three ball on the first day and was marking the card of a player who came in with 36 points. During the round I saw - for the first time in my golfing life and I am 73 - clear act of cheating.

This player improve the lie of his ball by moving it with the outside of his right golf shoe. I saw it as I was standing close to him - we were both glancing back at the third member of our team who was hitting a shot. Quite aware of what I had seen I said to the cheat low key "I am not sure that is quite the right thing to do". He replied - "I have a muscular spasm in my right knee and sometimes my foot moves involuntary". I gave him a very questioning stare and said nothing more.

We completed the round and his score totalled high (by our standards) - 36 points.

Now the dilemma - to sign or not to sign.

I knew that my responsibility was to the field and not to the individual.

We had about 24 players - everyone paying quite a sum for the overnight - cost is not actually the issue - cheating is the issue.

I spoke to one of the organisers - not a strong individual - he did not want to get involved.

I then spoke to the then Club Captain who happened to be on the trip - he too showed no desire to get involved.

Both failed the test of leadership in my view.

I knew what I had to do - I approached the cheat - reminded him of the incident and said it made it difficult for me to sign his card.

He got stroppy - reiterated the explanation re muscular spasm.

Pleasantly but firmly I stood firm.

He said he would pack his bags and leave. I said his departure would simply raise questions - why?

He sulked.

As we gathered later for Dinner I was told that he had withdrawn his card.

I felt vindicated.

When we are on the golf course we are a trustee for the game - for the ethics - for the rules.

We must not be capricious and view ourselves as being on a mission to search out the baddies - just deal with what happens.

And deal with it - if you do not deal with it you are reneging on your responsibility to the game of golf.

The cheat and I are still good friends - he seeks me for a game. i gently chide him about his muscular spasm - he smiles - I watch him carefully and hitherto no repeat.

Two things - be pleasant and not officious - be firm and not weak.

Golf matters as a character builder

Allow cheats to cheat and right and wrong flies out the window

Bernt Ersson's avatar
Bernt Ersson wrote at 2018-06-14 04:06:56+00:00:

When I was at my best some 15 years ago (my average hcp 5,8) my best rounds were around 74-76, my worst rounds 86-90 the same year. Now at the age of 67 and with a hcp of 9, my scores have so far this year varied from 78 to 98 (on a really bad day, 20 strokes difference!). I played the Old Course in St Andrews a few years back, my two rounds were 83 and 84 (tournament). When I played Kingsbarns links the same week I scored 96 and a few days later Ladybanks GC, a British Open qualifier, one heck of a tough course, I scored over 100.

And believe me, I do not cheat.

So, accusing these juniors of cheating, without any hard proof as witnesses, only by looking at the scores, to me, is really astonishing.

The most obvious form of cheating I have noticed, are grown ups that better their lies, and above all, not lowering their handicaps when playing good result rounds before club tournaments, thus creating a hcp higher than they usually play on, to get better results at the club Stableford tournaments.

Bernt Ersson's avatar
Bernt Ersson wrote at 2018-06-14 04:03:54+00:00:

Accusing a number of junior golf players of cheating , at the level of regional qualifying tournaments, with names of their schools and all, without hard proof, without any witnesses, just by looking at the reported scores, is to me really astonishing.

How could someone take off 37 strokes (105 minus 68= 37) in one round, as their scorecards had to be signed by a rival?

Undoubtedly at this level of competitive junior golf, the youngster playing alongside "the cheater", thus signing the scorecard, would have noticed cheating, at that level. Signing a scorecard with that much fake? Hardly possible at that competitive, single-hcp level!

Tony Haslam's avatar
Tony Haslam wrote at 2018-06-14 03:34:08+00:00:

That’s a coaching problem. You teach honesty and integrity, and if team members can’t follow that they’re gone. If the coach doesn’t know his kids are cheating, he or she isn’t doing their job. Either way it comes down to the adult in charge.

anaplayer's avatar
anaplayer wrote at 2018-06-14 02:33:49+00:00:

i find it interesting when talking about cheating,,,PRESIDENT TRUMP is bashed,,,as usual, and no one stepped up to say that this is an article about cheating,,but yet when president NO LONGER obama, is protected. i know a tour player who has played with the current President and said he can shoot 82 or 72,,,,,,i have not heard of such scores of non president obama

steve's avatar
steve wrote at 2018-06-14 05:01:03+00:00:

I'm sorry if I was less than clear. I am talking about cheating. I am talking about golf and I am talking about Trump. Go to your golf association site. Type in Trump Donald and Florida. There he is. He has posted 20 rounds in the last ten years to arrive at his 2.8 index. Do you think he may not have posted a few rounds in the last 10 years?

Ricky wlms's avatar
Ricky wlms wrote at 2018-06-14 12:19:02+00:00:

Always about Obama!

Boyd Welsch's avatar
Boyd Welsch wrote at 2018-06-14 02:29:20+00:00:

The easiest way to stop backstopping is for shots inside ten yards of the green are played where they are even if struck by another’s shot. Then if the resting ball is beyond the flag that person will want to mark to prevent being knocked away and if the ball is closer the person making the shot will want it marked. Or reinstate a modified stymy rule so none are marked until all are on the green.

Leo's avatar
Leo wrote at 2018-06-14 02:59:45+00:00:

This "backstopping" is NOT cheating .There is no rule requiring a player to mark his ball when another player is playing from off the green.

Paul's avatar
Paul wrote at 2018-06-14 15:50:31+00:00:

Leo, you need to read Rule 22 in the Rules of Golf

Jacqui's avatar
Jacqui wrote at 2018-06-14 16:19:12+00:00:

The rule says "may" lift..... I agree, leaving your ball is not cheating. I think it speeds up play when you don't have people running up to mark a ball that will not keep my ball from going into the hole; if I am lucky enough and hit it too hard, then it could stop my ball. This is such a non issue in my book. There are many more issues to bring up.... like ignoring Rule 10 completely in guise of "Ready Golf".....

Notthesheriff's avatar
Notthesheriff wrote at 2018-06-14 01:57:25+00:00:

In club play, “breakfast balls” (Mulligan on the first tee), picking up balls to identify w/o marking then dropping in a better lie, incorrect drops on balls in hazards, raking in four footers, and the list goes on and on. The offenders don’t consider that they are cheating, but I don’t want those guys with their vanity handicaps on my team when it counts.

Robb's avatar
Robb wrote at 2018-06-14 01:51:06+00:00:

played in a Saturday morning men's league, where you can win $$, not a lot, a max of maybe $40 per week in tournaments. Anyway, playing in a foursome, 2 of the guys are officers in the league. first guy get up, hits his drive way left, right into a real estate office parking lot. Ball comes to rest under a car. Parking lot is clearly marked as OB. reaches down, picks up his ball, walks to grass and proceeds to take a drop. Says parking lot is man made, so he gets a free drop. I say no, its OB. he looks at me and says, " you want to play here next year?" we proceed, I keep quiet. 13th. 220 yd par 3. miss hits tee shot, towering pop up, ball plugs into sandtrap, completely buried.cannot see ball, but you know where it is from mark. he goes and unburies ball with club!! asked him if he was going to take penalties, he smile, says hey, its a friendly game, and proceeds to play on. I went over, took his bag off the cart, drove back to the clubhouse, told the pro, asked for a refund on my dues, and never went back!!

RobertyBob's avatar
RobertyBob wrote at 2018-06-14 01:38:30+00:00:

At a Regional High School final, I witnessed a (competent?) player finish bogey, bogey, double bogey. Later I saw his posted score was 74. At the time, all the scorecards were lying on a table. I was thinking he must have played really well up to the few holes. Curious, I found his scorecard and was shocked to find that pars had been recorded for his final 3 holes. I notified the organiser who subsequently found the marker. Turned out he spoke very little English and through an interpreter, he knew he was writing down the wrong score but did not have the language skills to question the player. It is incumbent upon coaches, parents and those involved in junior golf to emphasise the huge importance of integrity as a golfer. If one's integrity as a golfer is lost, then any (top) performance will always have a question mark.

Don Nissen's avatar
Don Nissen wrote at 2018-06-14 01:26:30+00:00:

I was a member of a Club in Queensland , Australia over 30 years ago where cheating by Juniors was such a problem that the Captain would not allow them to play in a group of 4 on their own. A senior experienced member would be drawn with up to 3 of them in weekend competitions to oversee the scores. Under this action the recorded scores of individuals in our junior group increased by 5 to 8 per round .

Don R's avatar
Don R wrote at 2018-06-14 01:13:04+00:00:

Former PGA professional and coach of a high school golf team in MI as well. When I coached, each school had to provide a walker who would accompany a group which did not include p l ayers from his or her school. Not sure why they would discontinue that procedure which would protect the field.

Randy's avatar
Randy wrote at 2018-06-14 00:53:04+00:00:

I have quit all tournament play,the problem is a combination of a lack of integrity and stupidity.Very few know the rules of golf and fewer play by the rules,better off finding a 4 some of like minded golfers or just play alone.

Uwgolfdawg's avatar
Uwgolfdawg wrote at 2018-06-14 00:46:19+00:00:

When someone tells me how well the played a few days ago I’m reminded of my favorite Golf saying: nothing hurts a good score like witnesses.

Shelby Yastrow (co-author)'s avatar
Shelby Yastrow (co-author) wrote at 2018-06-14 00:42:30+00:00:

I urge you to read a new book written by golf legend Tony Jacklin with co-author Shelby Yastrow. The title is "Bad Lies" and involves a popular professional golfer who is accused of cheating (snd using performance-enhancing drugs) by a national golf magazine. The cover of the book includes a testimonial from Jack Nicklaus who rates the book a "fascinating page turner." In bookstores now, and and Kindle.

Dan's avatar
Dan wrote at 2018-06-14 00:41:50+00:00:

Sad to think of memories lost because these cheaters went to state in their place.

steve's avatar
steve wrote at 2018-06-14 00:41:02+00:00:

check out Trump. He is a pioneer in that field. This, of course. when he was not discussing nuclear stuff with his uncle from MIT

Ricky wlms's avatar
Ricky wlms wrote at 2018-06-14 12:27:28+00:00:

Always about Trump!

Jack Dunphy's avatar
Jack Dunphy wrote at 2018-06-15 02:07:54+00:00:

This is about golf. Dope

Victoria 's avatar
Victoria wrote at 2018-06-14 00:02:57+00:00:

I have also thought Golf was about the player and try to better yourself but now days I have seen coaches as well as players cheat so I have given up playing in any tournament and play just for fun so not to call anyone on right out cheating

Larry's avatar
Larry wrote at 2018-06-13 23:53:24+00:00:

In a group of 15-20 players, we had 2 who were cheats. Always asked everyone's score to the green to see if they wanted to try to MAKE or intentionally MISS their short putts. Other techniques also. 34-35 handicaps were truly 26-27. Always shot better than average in tournaments.

Mike Brincko's avatar
Mike Brincko wrote at 2018-06-13 23:32:52+00:00:

Major incidents of cheating, no. Minor, absolutely. But major or minor, cheating is cheating. We all know the "Hey I found it" guy, even after all four players searched extensively. "Collar in the way" guy, collar would impede the putting backstroke, miraculously the ball is 4 inches from the collar. "Stableford points sandbagging" guy, takes a few doubles (zero points) to keep his points low for the following weeks. We have heard of holes in one on dogleg par fours, misremembering strokes, sketchy drops, can go on and on. Wouldn't have a problem calling someone out in an actual tournament, but here in Mid East coast Florida, rocking the boat in the weekend groups, not my cup of tea. Everyone is friends, but beating them while they cheat is priceless. These high school teams and players are hopefully embarrassed beyond belief, and people will remember their names, and that will be tough to get away from. Thanks Tim for bringing this to our attention. Hope we see you soon on the course again on Saturday's sooner than later.

TimGavrichGA's avatar
TimGavrichGA wrote at 2018-06-14 02:20:54+00:00:

Thanks for the note Brincko! Should be back in action on the 30th.

Jim Scotti's avatar
Jim Scotti wrote at 2018-06-13 23:21:13+00:00:

This is a sad story and I hope this cheating is not as widespread as the author fears. On a brighter note, here is a story where a High School player called herself for an incorrect score and DQ'd herself from a tournament victory: - I hope to see this young lady out on the LPGA tour in a few years.

JT's avatar
JT wrote at 2018-06-13 22:33:22+00:00:

It is taking me longer to actual become a scratch golfer because I penalize myself for everything. I want my score to be true and clean. It has more meaning that way. I meet guys who say they shoot par and this and that but I'll believe it when I see it. I shot 79 one day and the guy I played with pointed out I should have received a penalty based on how and where I marked my ball on the green. Ok, I shot 80. Next time we played I shot 78. If the rules are not enforced and applied, you might as duck hunt.

Patsy Jones's avatar
Patsy Jones wrote at 2018-06-13 22:29:02+00:00:

i play on a women's sat golf league and i would say 1/4 of the ladies cheat on every play day and mostly on tournament day, my friend and myself have seen it over and over, so i think players like that are of low character and it makes me sick to my stomach. i do believe alot of people out there playing on leagues are not honest people anymore, because look around how this society keeps going down the gutter.

Ronnie's avatar
Ronnie wrote at 2018-06-13 22:01:55+00:00:

How many times do the pro players actually hit another ball that is not spotted. Is it common? I know we don’t see it on t.v.

Leo's avatar
Leo wrote at 2018-06-14 03:04:47+00:00:

Almost never this is a non-issue being turned into something by the media and a people watching on TV if it was an issue TOUR PLAYERS would speak out against it

J. Cartwright's avatar
J. Cartwright wrote at 2018-06-13 21:24:21+00:00:

I've witnessed some "foot wedge" type of behavior and someone "forgetting" a few of the strokes they took on a hole. It's been a problem in tennis as well, another sport that relies on the integrity of the players. It seems to be problem from the top down (even presidential, according to four sources I've read about)

david's avatar
david wrote at 2018-06-13 22:03:10+00:00:

Yeah I know right. Barry Obama claimed a 15 handicap. If that guy EVER broke 100 at Congressional it was a complete lie. Just like everything that came out of his idiot mouth.

Geodude's avatar
Geodude wrote at 2018-06-13 23:26:41+00:00:

This forum is about cheating in golf; your insult about "President" Obama is petty and the fact you don't address a previous President with respect only shows your lack of character. Go back to your single-wide and watch a little more Hannity.

jim 's avatar
jim wrote at 2018-06-14 01:44:47+00:00:

two wrongs don't make a right, and david is making a judgement about somebody's ability, then takes it too far. you took it too far and kept going

john's avatar
john wrote at 2018-06-14 03:05:43+00:00:

Are you on dope geodude??? There can NEVER be respect for an ILLEGAL SOCIALIST piece od SHIT like obama or sotoreo or sabahua or what ever his name is!!!!! Get off the dope and stay focused on golf!!

Joan Bannan's avatar
Joan Bannan wrote at 2018-06-13 23:32:04+00:00:

That was unnecessary!

Ricky wlms's avatar
Ricky wlms wrote at 2018-06-14 12:33:11+00:00:

An idiot is always the idiot that calls someone else an idiot!

Ted's avatar
Ted wrote at 2018-06-14 15:58:31+00:00:

Has a heck of a lot more integrity in his little toe than dRump has in his FAT body. Like he doesn't cheat and lie constantly. Very honorable? NOT

Kurt's avatar
Kurt wrote at 2018-06-13 21:22:18+00:00:

The handicap system, any handicap system, is seriously flawed. I watched the Pebble Beach pro-am with golfers carrying a 12-16 handicap that would kick my butt on the course, and I usually score in the mid-'70s. It's absurd, rampant and unethical. That's why I don't carry a handicap. "Swung what ya brung". No more. No less.

Dan's avatar
Dan wrote at 2018-06-14 00:45:40+00:00:

Slope only goes so far . When you play the back tees on a real golf course in all kinds of weather you to can have a handicap that travels well.

John's avatar
John wrote at 2018-06-14 01:21:51+00:00:

The new International handicap system that comes into effect in 2020 will go a long way to rectifying that. It could still be improved though by using the formula they use in Australia. Instead of your 10 best scores out of your last 20, use the best 8, average them and multiply buy .93.

Kurt's avatar
Kurt wrote at 2018-06-14 02:28:44+00:00:

As long as any system allows the player to post his own scores the system will be abused. I don't have an easy answer but as long as self post (best 10 or 20 or xyz% or ???) exists there will be an abundance of players playing to a 4 with a 14 handicap. As previously noted, pathetic.

Buzz's avatar
Buzz wrote at 2018-06-13 20:52:40+00:00:

Something on my mind for several reasons, including "backstopping". Speed of play would be increased and end backstopping and perhaps several other things if a player's ball, putt or chip, stops within 18 inches of the hole the player should be required to putt out and not mark the ball. It seems a waste of time most of the time, with the exception if it occurs on Sunday on the 72hd hole for the win.

Dave's avatar
Dave wrote at 2018-06-13 21:19:12+00:00:

Hi Buzz, we are singing from the same hymn sheet, I've written to the R&A here in the UK along the same lines,that is the player furthest from the pin putts to completion, and all the concern about treading on somebodies line is irrelevant, 40 other golfers have done that before we got there!

Bob Roth's avatar
Bob Roth wrote at 2018-06-13 20:28:56+00:00:

I was playing a singles match. Another singles match was playing with us to make a foursome. One of the players in th other match marked his ball on the greens significantly closer to the in when his opponent was not looking, sometimes by a few feet. Fortunately he lost the match anyhow.

John's avatar
John wrote at 2018-06-14 00:38:24+00:00:

I don't care if that wasn't my match, I would have spoken up!

Pat's avatar
Pat wrote at 2018-06-13 20:20:35+00:00:

I am new to a club, and my first game out, I was put with the Club Captain. This person had a bad hole about hole 3, and gave me a score one less than it was. I pointed out that it wasn't correct, and he/she immediately agreed. There was one more suspicious hole like this. Then came along a par 5, where I know that the lowest score she was going to take was a 9, if the putt was made. As we were a bit behind, the other player and I proceeded to the next hole. When I asked the score, I was told "8", and a 3 putt, which would have made it a "10". So it was not an important game or tournament, but at the same time, this kind of behaviour is not acceptable to me. As I was the new kid, I didn't want to make waves, so I just put down the score I was told. Ther were a couple for other incidents, i.e. Incorrect drop off a cart path, etc but I didn't want to be a big "rules nazi", so again, I let it go. At the end of the round, there were two scores that the golfer said were less than I had marked. I just changed them. I just figured that this person, who has been playing a long time, doesn't count past 8, and makes up own rules. The next round out, I was put out with the Asistant Captain. Same problem, but only once. Again, not putting anything mor than an 8. So my point is, cheating is ane will always be there. Friendly games, where rules are relaxed,, and I'm guilty of this, make it difficult in competitive play, to stick to the rules, and just suck it up and take the score that you actually get. I felt like I was in a bit of a situation, being a new player to the club, to start calling out cheaters in my first two rounds. Maybe next season..

Bev's avatar
Bev wrote at 2018-06-13 22:36:50+00:00:

I wonder if they were playing to their handicap, that says they don't count anything above 8 strokes? Clarification might be worth asking at the beginning of a round. When we play, even if our handicap says we don't count more than 8, we actually put the true score on tbe card (even if above 8), and let the system do the calculations for us when e enter the scores on Golf Canada 's site. Otherwise, our handicaps will be wrong all the time. Why would anyone want a lower handicap than what they really play, when all it does is make you look the fool during a tournament when you're put with players way above your ability and your score is inevitably, much higher than your claimed handicap. Peope are really foolish.

lewis sare's avatar
lewis sare wrote at 2018-06-13 20:15:45+00:00:

What about sandbaggers? Posting a higher score to get shots in the net division.With a higher handicap.

Sandy's avatar
Sandy wrote at 2018-06-13 20:23:47+00:00:

Stableford is an alternative to Net score games

David's avatar
David wrote at 2018-06-13 20:48:24+00:00:

Sandbaggers are thieves, liars and cheaters. If you are playing a match with them and they make 6, they'll say 4 and post 8. They beat you coming and going.

crgolfer's avatar
crgolfer wrote at 2018-06-13 20:12:24+00:00:

The high school incident if true, is wrong. the high schools should be punished<<< as far as backstopping goes, it sounds total BS,,, are you supposed to run 200, 175, 280, 80 yards to mark your ball? hell no, if the player asks to mark it, mark it, if not play it, if the balls collide there is a rule in place,,, use it..

Mississaugagolfer's avatar
Mississaugagolfer wrote at 2018-06-13 20:28:33+00:00:

Nobody is saying one should run 200 or 100 yards to mark a ball. However, when all are near the green and one is chipping, all balls on the green should be marked. It's common sense.

Tom Anderson's avatar
Tom Anderson wrote at 2018-06-13 21:10:00+00:00:

If my memory is correct, there was a time when balls on the green were not marked. I have seen film of players using sand irons to skip over a ball in order to get to the hole. Am I wrong?

Dave's avatar
Dave wrote at 2018-06-13 21:22:04+00:00:

Absolutely correct, it is the origin of being stymied!

Donn's avatar
Donn wrote at 2018-06-13 21:57:23+00:00:

Yes the Stymie orig. was your ball location blocks another from the hole. You ere not allowed or not forced to lift and mark Lifitng and marking on the green was a big rule change about, maybe 100 yrs ago.

Boyd Welsch's avatar
Boyd Welsch wrote at 2018-06-14 03:09:26+00:00:

It was eliminated in 1952

Dan's avatar
Dan wrote at 2018-06-14 00:55:19+00:00:

No . The stymie was once a rule.

J. Cartwright's avatar
J. Cartwright wrote at 2018-06-13 21:29:03+00:00:

Agree totally but common sense doesn't seem to apply to some people who have to "win at all costs"

Louie's avatar
Louie wrote at 2018-06-14 00:39:38+00:00:

If you feel someone is cheating or posting higher scores than actual, he/she should be confronted and asked to explain. Failure to do so only encourages the louse to continue.

Leo's avatar
Leo wrote at 2018-06-14 03:08:43+00:00:

But who decides what is near the green. 10 feet 20 feet 10 yds 30 yds the rules don't specify a ball has to be marked when another player is playing from foo the green

1hsrgolfer's avatar
1hsrgolfer wrote at 2018-06-14 00:36:12+00:00:

Backstopping works because if you knew the rule, the ball that is hit gets to replace to spot it was at originally and the hitee stays where his ball ends up.

Boyd Welsch's avatar
Boyd Welsch wrote at 2018-06-14 03:05:31+00:00:

In stroke play anyone in the group can ask to have a ball marked. The option is to mark, putt out or be disqualified. Conrad Rehling, University of Florida golf coach, told me the object of the game was to play 18 holes in as few strokes as possible, without losing your ball or your integrity. If you must give up one, make it the ball.

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Tim Gavrich

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Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for Golf Advisor and the Managing Editor of the Golf Vacation Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.