Do you "cheat" at golf?

I play golf maybe 3 times a year. In other words, not enough to get any better than I am now. I go out because I like hitting the ball, being outside, walking the course and the camraderie.

However, I don’t enjoy attempting to hit my ball out of a forest or foot high grass. If I get wet (and believe me, I get wet a lot. If you’re ever lost in a desert, hope you’re with me and I have a 5 iron and a golf ball 'cause we WILL find water) I’m just as likely to drop a ball beside the lake as wherever I’m supposed to, if I like the shot. If I’m right behind a tree, I’m not averse to a little foot-wedge action. If I skull a tee shot and there’s not folks backed up behind me, I’m just as like to tee up another one and take another rip at it.

I’m not playing for money. I’m not playing in tournaments. Hell, I’m barely even keeping score. I’m out there to have a good time. There’s a sports talk radio station in my area that has a Saturday morning golf show, and you’d think from listening to these jokers talk that my actions are on the same level killing my own mother or eating puppies.

So, anyway, do you cheat at golf? Or are you “strict rules” guy (like James and Auric) when you’re just out trying to spoil a good walk with your buddies?

It varies between 3 different sets of rules:

Strict rules of golf.
Strict rules of golf except you can take back your tee shot on the first and restart your round. Nothing is shittier than starting your round in the rough. This is the most common rule.
Play matchplay not stroke play and concede the hole and do what you like. Hit your tee shot in the water? Just concede the hole, drop one in the fairway near your playing partner and play your approach from there. Miss the green but like the look of the green. Concede, toss your ball where you’d like to putt from and go for it.

I don’t play in tournaments or anything formal, so I just go out and try to do my best. Generally, I play my ball as it lies regadless of where it is. I put it there and I’ve got to get it out.

But, if I’m playing on a course that isn’t in the best condition, i.e. no grass so I’m chipping off bare soil or clay, I’ll move it back into a lie that will give me at least a chance of hitting a shot.

I’ll also move a ball sitting in a divot.

I don’t cheat, although there have been times when I have really wanted to avail myself of Australian Winter Rules.

I used to golf once or twice a week, and I was pretty much a strict rules guy. Now I golf once a year at best and I’m an “in the open” cheater, meaning I announce on the first tee that I’m there to enjoy, not torture, myself, that I’ll make sure I pick up if I’m taking too long (I’m still a pretty fast golfer), but in the interim, I will not be hitting off any tree roots, or out of divots, or off of hardpan when there’s a perfectly good tuft of grass right next to it. Mulligans are perfectly acceptable now (not every tee, mind you).

I just don’t have the game any more to get through a round with strict rules without golfing a million / slowing things down, and having a really, really bad time on 5 or 6 holes. So, yeah, the 104 I golfed on Sunday, had I stuck to strict rules, would probably have ended up a 115. Whatever. The course record was safe in any event.

Even in my strict rules days, I never minded somebody like that. Enjoy yourself, I say. Just don’t pretend you’re golfing strict rules.

The only time I cheat is when I’m in danger of ruining one of my clubs. I will not play off of rocks, and if the ball moves because I’ve moved a rock I don’t replace it or take a penalty. I will also move a ball if I’m going to hit a tree with the club. However, I try and not make my shot easier so if I’m behind a tree I still leave it that way.

I’m not very good, and I only play a couple times a year at most. It all depends on the situation. If you’re playing for money, it should be strict strict strict, with any rule variations agreed to in advance. I don’t play for money, usually.

If it’s for fun, it’s for ME, not for you, so I’ll do whatever I wish, thankyouverymuch. Usually I play where it lies, though if I’m really in the junk, I’ll kick it out to a more playable spot. I don’t enjoy taking 3 swings just to get back onto real grass. If I’m in a bad divot or sitting on a root, it gets moved too. It’s a hard enough game for me hitting off of a good lie.

First of all, there’s CHEATING like when you’re playing a match against a guy for money and he deliberately breaks the rules to gain an edge on you. I don’t think anyone will support that.

Then there’s cheating. . .follow me on this. . .

When you play basketball, for instance, there’s a guy playing defense on you. What fun would it be to just have the guy step aside, let you hit a lay-up and then you go, “it’s your turn”.

In golf, the RULES are the defense. You have to use particular equipment, “play it where it lies”, lose stroke and distance when you hit it OB, putt it out, etc. etc. etc.

You don’t get to re-hit from the tee. You don’t get to move your ball from a bad lie. A “bad lie” is like the guy putting his hand in your face playing one-on-one.

If you’re arbitrarily going to break rules, why not just carry the ball to the green, and drop it in the hole? I mean that. That’s not a “fallacy of the slippery slope” (or whatever).

Playing from shitty lies, hitting over water, hitting out of sand. . .that’s GOLF. If you can’t enjoy it on that level, you’re just. not. golfing. You’re hitting a ball with a crooked stick to see it fly towards a target, and if that’s what you’re there for, you might as well just go to a driving range.

Actually, yes, that is a textbook definition of a slippery slope fallacy. :slight_smile:

In any case, yes, sometimes I do cheat, more often when I’m playing by myself. I will play 95% of bad lies, but I’m not going to risk killing a $90 iron just to advance the ball off of a tree root or something. And if I’m really disappointed in a shot to a green, and I’m playing by myself, I’ll just drop another ball and try again. I don’t log these cheating sessions in my handicap, of course. I see it as on-course practice.

If I’m playing with friends, we will give each other a mulligan, and that’s about it.

So why do I cheat? Same reason I buy better equipment and take lessons: make the game a little more enjoyable. Golf is an awfully difficult game to enjoy if you’re having a day in which all your shots land in divots that look like they were created by IEDs. If someone enjoys having one disasterous shot lead to a horrible lie leading to another lousy shot, God bless them, but a very occasional nudge out of a terrible lie makes my greens fees a lot more worth the cost.

I know it seems like it, but it isn’t.

I’m actually saying that they’re the SAME THING. Picking up your ball and carrying it to the hole is as much of a rules violation as kicking it out from behind a tree. The ‘5’ you write down after kicking your ball out is as invalid as the ‘1’ I write down after carrying the ball to the hole.

I will concede that there are different kinds of rounds of golf.

When I used to play a lot, I did have practice rounds. But it wasn’t playing golf. It was just practicing out on the course when traffic was low.

Still, if people suck at golf, I’d rather they drop balls in the fairway instead of playing from the rough. Keeps it moving out there.

Probably a bit more fun than getting every one of your shots blocked back into your face. If I was playing against Michael Jordan (or your average collegiate player, for that matter) I wouldn’t be enjoying the game at all, I’d lose 21-0, with every one of my possessions ending in a blocked shot or steal.

I see this type of cheating as choosing an easier opponent, one more your own skill level, rather than choosing to have no opponent at all. When one gets more skilled, then you can up the level of competition by ditching the cheats. As long as I’m a pathetic hacker, we’ll all be better off with me making the course easier to play.

I play @ 50 rounds a year, and currently hit to a 12 hcp.
I pretty much play it as it lies, but there are exceptions. Count all my strokes and assess penalties for hcp purposes, but rarely - if ever - play in tourneys. In tournaments, I do nothing questionable without informing my opponent and getting their opinion on the ruling.

My thoughts are, the courses I play aren’t maintained to the standards of the courses the pros play, so I don’t mind making a couple of adjustments to the rules.
For example, as someone else mentioned, if I hit a perfect drive and it ends up on bare dirt that should be designated ground under repair, I might roll it onto some grass.
Often times courses I play do not have their hazards properly marked, which makes it difficult to determine your options. So I make a drop that does not give me an advantage, withough trying to apply the rules to situations that don’t exist.
The biggest rule violation I recommend for recreational golfers is if you lose your drive (and for whatever reason did not hit a provisional), for the sake of play I would hate to see someone marching back to the tee.
Another possibility would be if you hit a provisional, then hit that ball a second time, and only THEN find your first ball, I’ve got no problem with you playing your first ball with no penalty.
Oh yeah - I also favor ready golf, when strict honors would delay things.

If I’m not playing against someone for money, I really don’t care what he does, as long as he isn’t damaging the course.
With my betting buddies its usually no more than $20 max. burn.
And situations differ depending upon whether or not a decision impacts a particular bet.
For example, one should NEVER give himself a putt to winn a hole - or it KILLS me when someone who is not in on a wager will give a putt to the guy I’m playing/betting.

This assumes I give a rat’s patooty about my score. I don’t. It’s just gives me a general idea of how many strokes I made, with varying levels of accuracy depending on the day and the mood. And I couldn’t tell you my handicap if you put a gun to my head.

I guess I’m just at the level of golf that I consider EVERY round a practice round. There’s nothing (no money, trophies, pin-up girls, or even who buys the beer at the end of the round) riding on my score.

I don’t get to golf that often, but I still like to know what my true score is as much as possible. I don’t cheat just to get an easier shot, but there are times that I will do things that are not completely in agreement with the rules for more practical purposes such as not risking breaking a club or unduly holding up my group or the group behind me. The most common would be when I discover my ball has gone out of bounds. Unless I am playing alone and there is no one behind me, I will not go hit the ball over. I do try to assess myself a reasonable penalty in these situations so I can be as close as possible to what my true score should be.

Well, my buddies and I play about 2-3 rounds a week together, and we’re fast, normally 18 holes riding we can play in three hours. However, if we played by the strict rules of golf, I’m sure our rounds would take longer and our average scores would go up by 2-3 strokes. Part of it is perspective I guess. We like to think the rules are there to help the golfer (ie, Tiger’s boulder “loose impediment” at Phoenix a few years ago). We play the ball down, except in the winter months, and role the ball in the fairway then.

However, for the casual golfer, as the OP states, if you were to follow all the rules, some people would never complete a round, and how much fun is that? If I’m playing with a newbie and they hit their ball OB, I’m not going to stand on principle and demand they hit another from the same spot. Yeah, take a drop over there but remember what the rule is. That way if they do get better they’ll remember and take the appropriate penalty.

IIRC, Golf Digest did an article a couple years back where they followed three or four groups at a municipal course during their round. They found that each group averaged about 25 rules violations during their round. They included penalties for advice; “Hey, nice shot, what’d you hit?”, “I smoked and eight iron”. Ding, penalty stroke to the asker, or loss of hole in match play. Moving to the far side of the green and taking a couple practice putts while your buddies hole out?, ding, one stroke penalty for each putt taken. The guy with the honor has to pee, so everybody hits while he takes care of business, ding, ding, ding, penalty stroke for each player for hitting out of turn.

I’d prefer the casual golfer, ie the OP, to know more etiquette (don’t drive the cart up to the green, rake the bunkers, fix ball marks, stay with the group ahead) than know that you can’t tee your ball in front of the tee markers. It makes the game more fun for them, and more fun for me 'cuz they ain’t holding up my game trying to figure out who’s away.

On preview I see Dinsdale has weighed in and we share the same sentiments re playing against par or playing against an opponent for money. For the record, I play over 100 rounds a year, sport a 13.2 handicap (and I’ve shot a few rounds in the 70’s). My group consists of an 8, 11, and a 15 handicap.

Cheating at golf. Hmm.

Although I’d agree with Trunk on almost any other sport (meaning one in which you’re competing)…I play golf for fun, and under what I call the “friend’s rules”. Whatever the prevailing feeling is in your group, that’s the way you play.

For example, when I would play with the ex-club-champ boss, we played pure rules…no foot-wedges, no moving the ball out from under the tree, out of the divot, etc.

When I play with my good friends (I’m around a 20 handicap, we range from a 6 to a 30+), we allow moving the ball out from under trees, out of divots, moving the ball off the collar on the putting surface, and other things to make the game more fun and easy for the two 30+ guys we play with.

Great…now I havea HUGE urge to go play.


Haven’t given this much thought - but is there ANY other sport where the youngest beginning amateur is ostensibly held to the same rules as the most accomplished pro?

A few times in the past I’ve been known to bounce the ball off the windmill or rocketship and into the bushes. I call “do over” and take another shot.

I guess that would be cheating if I was keeping score.

To quote the great Tom Watson, ''Golf is a game of lies."

I live by one “cheating” code: A lost ball is its own penalty.