Golfing Cheaters 101… How to Spot a Golf Cheater?


Author: Keri Schmit

There has been a lot of talk by a former caddie who has come out and said a number of players are seen regularly cheating on Tour. Happens almost every week on tour.
During a press conference, earlier this year, Mickelson stated “I know a number of guys on tour that are loose with how they mark the ball and have not been called on it. I mean, they’ll move the ball two, three inches in front of their mark, and this is an intentional way to get it out of any type of impression and so forth, and I think that kind of stuff needs to stop.”
According to many on-line articles on the subject, there are maybe 20 guys who deliberately fudge their mark within a half-inch. It’s hard to be definitive because the guys who do it are very good at it.
Here’s 10 ways to spot golf cheats and how to stop them in their tracks…   


Watch how the cheat marks the position of the ball on the green.
Invariably they will use a big coin, like a 50p or inch-diameter foreign currency, carefully sliding the coin as far as possible under the ball.


Always remember the immortal words of R&A executive director David Rickman: “a drop must be taken at the nearest point of relief, not the nicest point of relief.”
Staked trees allow a free drop within one club length of the ‘nearest’ point of relief from the obstruction but invariably, the cheat wants full advantage from the situation.
For example, a drive off the tee is hooked into a plantation of staked young trees on the left of the fairway and finishes within inches of the right-hand side of a staked sapling. The cheat would automatically deem the clear, fairway side to be the dropping area on the right of the tree. However, chances are that left of the tree is the nearest point from which a full swing and unimpaired stance can be taken – then one club length from there, no nearer the hole.


Look out for the casual nudge of the ball with the toe cap in the rough – known in the trade as the ‘leather wedge’. Another trick is to casually press down the grass behind the ball with sole of the club or the foot, for a cleaner impact.


The Rules declare a ball can be handled only between holes; on the green after it is marked; to take a free or penalty drop; when preferred lies are in operation or to identify it other than in a hazard. Given a bad lie in the rough, the unscrupulous golfer will pick it up to supposedly identify it (okay under the Rules as long as the act is witnessed by a fellow competitor) but then replaces it in an improved position.


A ball played into a water hazard is a one stroke penalty but the next shot must be played keeping the point of entry between the hole and the point from which the next shot is to be played. The cheat will tend to steal a few yards to the right or left to allow play over the narrowest stretch of water possible – if at all!


Only pitch marks and old holes can be repaired or loose impediments removed on a green. The cheat will nonchalantly declare spike marks on the line of a putt fair game and if challenged will look incredulous but never guilty.


We all know someone who likes a “magic pencil.” Cheats rarely have good memories, especially when it comes to scoring. They will claim a four when taking five or six shots or dismiss an air shot as a practice swing. Suspects should be watched carefully when you know they have miscounted. If they persist, simply refuse to sign their card.


Cheats rarely show good manners or have consideration for etiquette. Stunts include whistling, coughing or rattling change on your backswing, casting a shadow across your putt or tee shot, noisily identifying major hazards and out of bounds as you prepare to play (unless you haven’t already spotted them!) While not a direct cheat, it’s very bad gamesmanship. Keep quiet until it’s your turn to play.


If there’s a chance of their handicap being cut without the incentive of winning a prize, cheats will tend to take unnecessary shots over the last few holes or fail to submit their card. Cheats have also been known to falsify or declare false handicap certificates, when playing in Open competitions when major prizes and sweeps are at stake.


Relief cannot be taken as casual water when water appears when pressing a footmark down. Water must come to the surface as a result of normal pressure from the player’s feet when taking a stance. But it’s not just water where a good foot stomp comes into play – it’s been in the sand as well.

Even if you aren’t a stickler for rules, you still need to know the rules, because if you wind up in a situation where you’re expected to and required to follow the rules, and then break a rule out of ignorance — well, ignorance isn’t an excuse for the law and it certainly isn’t for tournament play either. “Hey, I just didn’t realize I was breaking a rule” doesn’t fly in by-the-book situations.
How can you get to know the rules better, even if you don’t take them too seriously when you’re out playing a friendly game of golf? Make sure you’ve fully read the United States Golfers’ Association “The Rules of Golf,” which details exactly what to do in almost every situation you’ll find yourself on the golf course.