THE MISSING LINKSTERS

Cheating at Golf Part One

“If I had my way any man guilty of golf would be ineligible for any office of trust in the United States.”                  – H.L. Mencken

We all get into trouble when we take ourselves too seriously. Nowhere is this reality more apparent than on the golf course. If we can’t even lighten up on the links then what chance to do we have in the workaday jungle? It’s sad. The game of golf has all the elements: A healthy flirtation with fate, a personal challenge, a sensual brush with nature, and a good belly laugh. So then why the frustration?

In 1771 Tobias Smallett observed in The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker that the game was becoming serious. “An Edinburgh foursome, all gentlemen of independent fortunes, had amused themselves at the pastime for the best part of a century, thus achieving a considerable amount of dexterity.” Tobias saw the golf as a precocious, yet peaceful pursuit. He may have said more had it not been for a brief encounter with a bolt of lightning, while single malt chipping on the 9th hole at St. Andrews that very afternoon. RIP Tobias.

Often a golfer cannot achieve peace on a fast talking green or in a bushwhacking fairway bunker because he’s dragged all of his daily problems into the sand trap with him. In short, he has chosen to play golf only on the surface level. He has chosen to go through the motions while his mind is elsewhere. He has chosen to follow another blueprint awarding himself with yet another report card for his efforts. In short, he has chosen the wrong club. That’s where cheating helps.

All golfers cheat. The ones who tell you they don’t are liars and cheats.

While fudging on a score, kicking the ball from the rough onto the fairway, taking countless mulligans and rearranging the landscape are common behaviorisms they are only manifestations of the inside game. They are as predictable as a wad of chew on the path between second and third base or lowered helmets at the goal line.

Combined with a competitive attention to detail, throat-slitting speed and an assortment of deadpan expressions these sociopathic country club skills, often inherited, can allow the golfer that fleeting inner peace.

Cheating at golf is a game within a game, a subculture composed of honed athletic skills, an executioner’s concentration and a bounce in the right direction when nobody is looking. It is peppered with a brisk glimpse that nothing is sacred and that no micro human endeavor should ever be taken very seriously.

It’s all fair and square because everyone has an equal opportunity to be dishonest, even the caddies. Handicaps be damned…The novice swindler should take precautions to employ a caddie who is also a cheat. That way there’s no conflict of interest. In addition one should dress to blend. In other words: Flashy clothes draw the kind of attention that no self-respecting, flimflam golfer wants.

The deceptive linkster doesn’t cotton to laughing at other golfer’s outfits either. He practices the art of distraction at the appropriate times. For example he might be inclined to rigging his own pants to fall down at while competitors are putting for effect. Eating crunch snacks on the green can also achieve this same kind of objective. Remember: Always practice your methods of cheating. There’s no reason to go straight just because you’re on the putting green or the driving range prior to play.

One particularly successful golf cheat I know in Montrose is constantly giving advice and tips to his competition. This drives them nuts.

“Keep your head down and don’t move your head,” he says. “Keep your arms straight and your club face closed. Bend your knees!”

The result of this mental torture is the slow demise of his adversary. Soon these pathetic pawns are thinking way too much and the ball peters off the tee or hooks its way into downtown Olathe.

Noted American Presidents like Gerald Ford and Dwight Eisenhower engaged in techniques of harassment on regular basis. Ford aimed his shots at other golfers while Eisenhower often put fellow linksters to sleep with his legendary monotones. Jethro Clampitt, who was never elected president of anything, often yelled, “Whop it!” just as other golfers began their backswing. Or maybe it was Jed.

My favorite method is to offer assistance just as another golfer is about to drive.

“You just keep your head down, pal, I’ll stand back here and watch your ball for you,” I say.

After the drive I attempt to send my fellow golfer to a spot as far away from his ball as possible.

It’s really funny watching the fellow searching in the rough for a ball that lies right in the middle of the fairway. Ha! Finding one’s own ball may not be the most beneficial move either. Always frown while looking and keep a backup ball at bay. Storing a second ball in one’s cheek or behind the ear works well.

One particularly clever cheat over at Dos Rios, in Gunnison, has fashioned a kind of Steve McQueen/Great Escape pair of pants that allows for timely golf ball drops anywhere. The prisoners in the film used similar apparatus to get rid of dirt from their ill-fated tunnel. Try it on the golf course whenever the Gestapo ain’t lookin’.

The practice of lingering over one’s own ball for what seems like an eternity can also upset other players causing them to lose all sense of timing. Often they become distracted by other stimuli and then they are at the mercy of the cheater. This approach is very important if one is caught in a sand trap. After the other golfers have grown bored and stopped watching you take practice swings, simply stomp your ball down into the trap, kick up some sand and toss a new ball up onto the green.

Simple enough huh? If another trick is necessary, exercise the wild-eyed option of cleaning your ball for about five or ten minutes at a whack whenever you are within 30 yards of a ball washing machine.

Be very careful in the sand trap. We know of people who, having spent the afternoon there, emerged victorious, but never the same. “Titleist, Topflight…Maxiflight, Wilson Long Drive…. is their curious mantra. Heart breaking.

Other effective diversions include impersonating the sounds of the club hitting the ball. (The proper sound is Twaaack, not Clunk, Whoop or Plop). Losing one’s temper can work and often covers the real agenda. Sneezing, burping and chattering are also powerful tools.

Just remember: The golf club is designed to hit the ball and the golf course is designed for cheaters. Keep in mind that the ultimate reward for cheating is a favorable score. Many of us prefer to keep score after 18 holes have already been completed.

“I think I had a four on number five or was it a five on number four,” is a common conversational technique. Feel free to use our international conversion table found at the rear of this issue. Check out the section listed under Club Distribution of Body Weight and/or Driving While Impaired. It’s sure to shave a point or two.

If none of this works maybe one should consider that he/she simply sucks when it comes to golf. We suggest that a person faced with this stark realization turn to poker or billiards, two fine exercises for chronic cheats.

Kevin Haley, a duffer of some impressive stature throws clubs and refuses to check the oil on his golf cart. He thinks a consistent score of 18 or lower adds validity to an afternoon.

Filed Under: Reflections on Disorder

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