How To Catch A Cheat!

Ever had an opponent who always somehow manages to magically find the fairway even though you’re sure if hit the rough? Now, I’m not saying that there are a lot of frauds out there, but we’ve all heard stories of the worst foursome ever at the clubhouse bar. Since many of you will be out on the green this summer, here’s a few things to look out for just in case you doubt another player’s game:


  • Moving the coin
  • 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. When replaced, the distance between ball and coin will be at least an inch nearer the hole or slightly to the side to avoid a spike mark or blemish on the green.

    Occasionally they will surreptitiously toss another coin a few inches, or even feet, nearer the hole (depending on the length of putt they face) and ignore the original marker to give themselves a closer putt.

    Watch, too when a marker in an opponent’s putting line goes down nearer the hole when measured a putter head’s length – the angle changes when replaced and the cheat steals an inch or two.


  • Taking a free drop
  • Always remember the immortal words of R&A Rules chief 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 sappling. 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 unimpared stance can be taken – then one club length from there, no nearer the hole.

    Watch too, that the ball is dropped from shoulder height – not knee level to affect a better lie.


  • Improving your lie
  • 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.


  • Point of entry
  • 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!


  • Tapping down spike marks
  • 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.


  • Changing a score
  • 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.



    Check out this video from for info on how to spot a cheat!

    Have you had to deal with cheaters, or maybe you’ve “stretched the rules” and want to come clean about your own cheats? Heck, maybe you want to brag about your fail-safe cheatin’ techniques! I’m all ears & want to hear ’em in the comments below….


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