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Readers Respond: Golf Cheating - What's the Worst Rulebreaking You've Seen?

Responses: 105


Strict adherance to the rules differs among golfers, and differs according to circumstance. Many bend or break the rules when playing a friendly round with a regular group, but those same golfers likely adhere to the rules - and the honor system - in a tournament or more formal setting.

Then there are those golfers who can't help themselves - who claim to be honest but bring out the ol' foot wedge when they think nobody is looking. And who deny it when caught. Yeah, those guys. Here's your chance to tattle. What is the worst golf cheating you've witnessed? (Please don't use real, full names - just what they did.) Tattle on a Cheat!


Played with my mate who hit a drive into a field. Proceeded to launch a ball (with his arm) up the fairway saying its just a provisional so play doesn't slow down. He then hit into a bunker (claiming this is still his second) then picks up out the bunker claiming he would get an up and down! Phantom score.
—Guest Jonjo

OB and Bunker

Play with a group of guys in Ft. Myers, Mirror Lakes and Sanibel. We play for money, not a lot but 10 bucks each. One guy who isn't that great a golfer cheats like no one's business, always saving a stroke off of bad holes. The greatest is his bunker shots. When no one is looking, especially when the rest of the group is to another side of the fairway or green, he will pick the ball out of the bunker and chip from the top edge. He wins more often than not. It gets so bad that many have quit playing with the group because of it. I have quit as well.
—Guest Dale

just cant follow the rules

a good friend and I was playing a skins game which I invited him to join I clearly told him these guy play by the rules first time we come to a water hazard he pulls out an old ball clears the hazard then replaces the ball when he hits his second shot I remind him he is breaking the rules a few rounds later he does the same thing when he goes to swap balls he looks down like he trying to identify his ball and shouts out yea that's my ball. good thing hes not that great but whats bad he the one who got me into golf
—Guest jbarry

Charity Scramble Cheaters

So we have a memorial four man scramble for the victim of a drunk driving accident. We only had three guys and were allowed one member to hit a second ball in place of a fourth member. So we are all single digits and shoot 58 and win. However I also won the long drive on a par 5 I can't remember how long but 315 ballpark, or so I thought. We were the second to last group and the guys behind us were pretty pretty bad, just hacks. Somehow when long drive gets announced one of the guys behind us claims to have outdrove me when we saw them not even come close to it! As he walked to get the prize I stood up and called him out on it one of the guys in his group agreed with me and I won the long drive. It wasn't the prize that matter though it was the fact people can cheat at golf like that, golf is as much about respect for the game as it is skill.
—Guest lefty

Audi Cup

It's hard to win the Audi tournament when a particular twosome will hike up their handicaps as many as 10 strokes and enter the tournament as a mid-teens player. There was a story in the Bee about it a year or two ago.
—Guest Steve

Cheaters I know

I always am amused by the way guys will have a 20 footer for par, get it to within 2 feet and rake it away like its automatic that they'll make it. Then on the next hole they'll have the same circumstance but this time they roll it to within inches of the cup. They will proudly putt the ball into the hole like they've really accomplished some great feat. How bout the guys who move the ball out of bad spots or divots because of the bad luck they've incurred. Of course, they Can find 10 reasons to lower their score on a hole, but never find 1 reason to keep score correctly. I have a buddy that shoots around 100 when he plays with me cause I keep score. Typical hole goes like this: I know he had a 9 but want to see what he'll say. I'll ask him what he had and he'll say 6. When he plays by himself he will usually shoot 88-89. I've seen him shoot a 124 to my 73 one day, and a116 to my 71.
—Guest Steve

Cheating Rat!

Me and my mate were playing one day and he ended up walking ahead of me to get his ball over the hill. I then saw him kick it 40 yards further down fairway and he kicked my ball off the fairway into the rough!
—Guest Big Boabby

The "Correct" Score

I played in a junior tournament and was told to score a girl who is known to be a cheater. She was playing well for the first few holes, so I let my guard down, especially since I wasn't playing great myself. Then she hit her ball into a tree and took three swings before punching the ball out onto the fairway; when we finished the hole she told me she had a bogie when it was clearly a triple. I watched her game decline on each hole, and yet she still insisted on shaving off a stroke or two when she scored a double or worse. After nine holes we compared scorecards, and I pointed out the many discrepancies, only one of which she was willing to change. I started playing better on the back nine and managed to pull out a 41, which gave me an 89 total. When we compared scorecards again, she claimed to have shot bogey on a hole that she doubled, and I promised to write the correct score. I obviously didn't change the double, and she shot 90, only one stroke from tying me for second place.
—Guest Mia

seasonal golfer

I have taken my girls to the practice holes, putting greens in the early hours of summer. We grind and we play tournaments all summer long. Since everyone golfs we stand behind having a accurate score card than a pretty score card. Than we have played against a Johnny come lately who's father doesn't count whiffs and picks up his ball when nobody is looking. When I am paired with them we have to check stroke by stroke and still come up with different numbers. Last tournament he gets paired with a seasonal golfer who is so talented he can't contain himself to one sport and starts after the 4th of July every year. My child got her best score of 31 that was great considering the difficult course. Johnny come lately and seasonal golfer come back with a 30. We were behind them and watched them hit out of the brush and had to wait in the shade until they finished on the greens. We saw them hit into the water and watched them looking for a lost ball. Poor sportsmanship.

Worst Golf Partner of All Time

I played with a guy who would routinely show up about 15 minutes late for our t time, He would than take another 15 minutes to get ready before he got to the first hole. The worst was yet to come. He would hit 3-5 balls off the t, until he hit one that was in the fairway. He would hit another 3-5 second shots, if he had to chip a ball he would take 5 or so, than another 5-10 putts. Anything around 10 feet he would say “is that good”. We said “yes” hoping that he would just pick up and leave the green. But, he would putt another 10 times until he would make it. Any shot ob, in the woods, behind a tree, in the water would never count. If there was a group behind us, he would just pick up on that hole if he was struggling. He would never tell anyone his score, because he always kept it on his Garmin. His final score was always around 75-78. And he really believed this was his score. He would add at least another hour to our round. Needless to say, no one plays with this fool.
—Guest Guest--Art

Shooting the duck

My son was playing his first junior tournament and was in match play with an older kid who had a lot more experience...with cheating. My son was doing a decent job for his first organized tournament and playing an honest game. His opponent won the first hole, my son won the next two holes. (They were playing only nine) my son's opponent kept hitting the ball hard and far but totally off the fairway to the right or the left....sometimes in the water or in the woods. He never claimed the penalties but would claim hitting 5 or 6. I got suspicious when after swinging 3 times to get out of a sand trap he claimed a 7 to finish the hole that he claimed the win for. I counted all his strokes thereafter and he consistently shaved his score by one or two. Finally, I called him out to the other players. My son was a little embarrassed but that kid didn't attempt another cheat. He ended up winning over my son, but at least my son learned a valuable lesson about honesty and integrity.
—Guest Must've been born yesterday

Shaving Strokes

I have a friend who started playing around the same time as me. Last week we went out with two co-workers (who are quite better then us). They were joking who would be the three and who would be the four in our foursome. Well, after shooting a miserable first couple of holes (triple/quadruple bogeys) I see him improve to bogeys and pars!! A little suspicious I started to count his strokes around the 12th hole. Sure enough on 4 of the last 6 holes he was shooting 7s and 8s and putting himself down for 5s and 6s. To make matters worse when we compared scores at the end of the round he scored a 104 and I a 108 to which he proclaimed "Well, I guess we know who the three is." I laughed and smiled thinking to myself "maybe in your world." Lucky for him I don't take it too seriously or he could've left that course with a couple black eyes after that comment. Lol what a cheat.
—Guest T2Tone


In a junior tournament I played in, one of the competitors in our 3-some who had been hacking at the ball all day came in with a miraculous 74. I had shot an honest 75, and the other guy on in our group who I had kept score for shot 80s. Anyway, after we sign our cards, I ask to see the scorecard of the 74. One thing that I always do is keep score for EVERY person in the group, even if I don't have to. On hole 2, I had recorded a score of 6, yet the scorecard had a 4. Numerous other glaring errors like this were found, and after some discussion, the committee decided that he had cheated by signing a lower score, resulting in an automatic disqualification.
—Guest James

Foot Wedge

Always adds a 15th club in his bag. (Foot wedge) Kicks the ball in the rough and always uses it to improve lies in the rough. His dad gets him everything he wants for golf. (Top of line clubs, gps, private lessons) Still stinks and cheats himself to a good round. Says his handicap is 6 when it it's actually an easy 11+ and always wants to play with people worse than him. He does it so he can cheat and no one will really care plus, he knows he can win. If anyone is beating him he gets mad and tries to mess them up. Pure cheat! Plus all putts within 7 feet are considered gimmes!
—Guest David V

best bunker player

Brought my brother in law out one evening for a round at my home club and the third is a par 3 and he was in the bunker so I watched to see what he would do. And to my amazement he brushed the sand away with the back of the club several times. I informed him that if he was playing in a match it was a two shot penalty every time that he did this. At this stage he was nearly down to the clay in the bunker so he replied and asked was this a local rule cause it never applied to other courses he played on.
—Guest Jim

Tattle on a Cheat!

Golf Cheating - What's the Worst Rulebreaking You've Seen?

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