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Nobody likes a cheater

29 AUG 2016

By Peter Mumford

I heard a great story last week about a player caught cheating in a two-day member guest tournament.

During play on the first day of the tournament, the guest partner of one of the players pushed his tee shot on the 17th hole, a long par 3, towards some tall trees that were quite close to the putting surface. Everybody went to look for the ball and after a few minutes the player yelled that he had found his ball beyond the trees in an area that gave him a clear shot to the green.

He then pitched his ball onto the green where it settled a foot or so away from the pin. It was an easy putt for par but it was also a stroke hole for the 16 handicapper so he was going to make a net birdie.

The only problem was that when one of the opponents went to pull the flagstick he discovered the player’s original ball in the cup.

Apparently it had hit a branch and ricocheted onto the green and into the hole, although nobody had seen it.

The other team asked the player if that was his ball in the cup and he denied that it was, even though it clearly was the same make and number as he had been playing and bore his personalized marking: a red line through the manufacturer’s name.

The “found” ball that he had hit close to the pin didn’t have a red line.

The second team was adamant that the guest on the first team had cheated by dropping a second ball. The guest was equally insistent that the ball in the cup was not his.

The guest player could have said that perhaps he was mistaken and in fact the ball in the cup was his. In that case, under the Rules of Golf, Rule 15-3 Wrong Ball would apply:

  1. Stroke Play If a competitor makes a stroke or strokes at a wrong ball, he incurs a penalty of two strokes. The competitor must correct his mistake by playing the correct ball.

Strokes made by a competitor with a wrong ball do not count in his score.

That would mean that by “correcting his mistake and playing the correct ball”, he makes a 1 and is assessed a 2-stroke penalty for making strokes at a wrong ball. He still gets a handicap stroke, so his net score is 2.

However, the guest player still insisted that he found his ball near the trees and pitched onto the green. After tapping in, he also made a 3 for a net 2.

After completion of play, the second team refused to sign the scorecard of the first team, alleging that the guest had cheated and should be disqualified.

It was going to be up to the Committee to make a judgement. (As everyone knows from the Definitions in the Rules of Golf, the Committee is the committee in charge of the competition or, if the matter does not arise in a competition, the committee in charge of the course.)

After listening to both sides in the dispute, the Committee believed the second team. The guest was disqualified for cheating. Incidentally, the member who had invited the guest was suspended from the club for three months. Nobody likes a cheater.

Footnote: Ironically, months later the guest was claiming to have made a hole-in-one on the 17th hole explaining that his ball had ricocheted off a tree and into the cup.

Peter Mumford is the Editor of Fairways Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @FairwaysMag.