Cheaters Identified by the Handicap Committee

CheaterWho hasn’t bemoaned the existence of the “handicap managers”? Those who manipulate their handicaps – sometimes slightly, other times dramatically – have always existed. I’ve played golf for over a half century and I’ve never seen a tournament winner that wasn’t a sandbagger, at least in the eyes of a few disgruntled losers.

Frankly, it gets old watching as the same people seem to win over and over again while other golfers haven’t been spotted in the winner’s circle since the early Pleistocene era. If you’ve been a club member for ten years and have never taken home the trophy, someone’s got to be cheating, right? After all, the handicap system is supposed to level the playing field and statistically there’s a greater chance of a blowup doll named Naomi falling from the sky than there is of you going ten years without ever having a sniff of victory. You’re not winning because someone is cheating.

The cheater is you! That’s right; you’re cheating yourself out of victory. When you go out on the golf course and improve your lie, you’re cheating. You may save a stroke or so every round. When you give yourself the three foot putt, you’re cheating. Everyone misses one once in a while. If you take a putt, your scores are going to be a half to a whole stroke lower than they realistically should be. When you play a Mulligan, you’re cheating. Take an illegal drop and you’re cheating. “Oh, give me a double-bogey” when you’re already laying six and you’re not on the green yet. You’re cheating.

In all these cases, you’re cheating yourself. You’re consistently coming in with scores that are one, two or more strokes lower than they really should be. If everybody in your group plays by the same “relaxed” rules, you’re giving each other tacit approval for cheating yourselves.

Everyone wants to have a lower handicap (except in tournaments), but if you cheat at Solitaire, did you really win the game? If you’re carrying an ego handicap, you can brag all you want, but it’s not going to be about your winnings. You’re not going to have any.

I hate to burst your bubble, but there’s not a lot you can do when you’re competing against a guy with an “honest” handicap, i.e., he plays by the rules, when you’re spotting him two strokes because you’re too embarrassed to write down a triple-bogey when you get on.

When you’re handicap is artificially low, what chance do you have? This doesn’t even begin to take into account how to compete against those who “manage” their handicaps to make them artificially higher. Why worry about them? You’ve already lost the tournament.

Does that mean we shouldn’t be concerned with the more devious handicap managers? No, not at all. But that’s a topic for another column. (And it’s coming!)

Author: h. Alton Jones

writer/scientist/adventurer

6 thoughts on “Cheaters Identified by the Handicap Committee”

  1. “You are beautiful dear Sir. You just called out a whole bunch of folks that don’t respect the game enough to play by its rules. Yet they bitch about never winning. Right on!”

    (This is a comment that was sent to me privately by a member who wishes to remain anonymous. He will therefore remain anonymous.)

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    1. Great start ! You’ve got their attention. Not me ! I was just identifying my ball. It was not visible before he identified it. Not its on a 4″ tee in the Arroyo, or 3 feet left of the tree that was blocking his line, or on lush green grass instead of the hard bare lie. Great start. Can’t wait to see chapter II.

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      1. You’re absolutely correct. Here’s another thing. Consider the current turmoil over the condition of the arroyos. Cut them down and the course becomes easier – scores (and handicaps) go down. Then some people go play “off campus” where the ratings are approximately correct. Their scores (and handicaps) go higher. Then they play at Gainey Ranch and kick everybody’s ass and people look surprised. Are they cheating? No, they’re just taking advantage of people who cheat themselves. Who’s to blame for the results?

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  2. Excellent start! Not only does the ego handicap, handicap the individual golfer but also his playing partners when team play is on the line! He is cheating not only himself but also his partner(s) by having an unrealistically low handicap!!!

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