Fair Game News Logo

Is it worse when a golfer cheats?

December 4, 2009 – 10:26 AM

By Laura Pappano

More than other sports, golf is a game of honor. The story of amateur Bobby Jones in the 1925 U.S. Open assessing himself what essentially became the tournament-losing stroke when a ball in the rough moved ever so slightly as he addressed it (perceptible only to him) is invoked as evidence of golf’s high moral standing.

This quality has led to programs like The First Tee, which uses core values inherent to the game – including honesty, judgment and integrity – to teach life skills to kids. Character matters.

Business gets done on golf courses exactly because many believe that the game offers a window into the soul.  Honest and fair on the course? Honest and fair in business (or so the thinking goes).

The rest of the sports world may be riddled with cheats – videotaping from the sidelines, stolen signals, tinkered-with (and purposefully crashed) race cars, steroids – but we do not doubt the ethical compass of the golfer.

Should we? Does the nature of golf demand that athletes be more upright people on – and off – the course?

The question of cheating cuts to matters of character and fair play. On the field, other sports have referees, umpires (and drug testers) to enforce rules. But what about a sport in which you judge yourself?

John Daly, of course, is no saint. But his off-course failings have been like loud crashes in a quiet room – well heard (and paid for).

Tiger Woods’ “transgressions,” as he labeled his cheating in the statement posted on his website, are of a different nature, particularly if the tabloids are right (and geez, haven’t they been lately?). Multiple mistresses, insane texting, phone calls seeking to conceal his tracks.

No one is suggesting Tiger has cheated on the golf course. But the striking split between his on-and off-course behavior is troubling — especially in this sport.

  1. One Response to “Is it worse when a golfer cheats?”

  2. Perhaps before we elevate golf to the game of the Gods, we might want to consider that traditionally, this game has been the choice of play for titans of industry, business and commerce seeking “the green” while playing “the green”.In many instances their brand of honesty, integrity and good judgement in both personal and professional spheres can certainly be questioned.

    By N. Lynch on Dec 11, 2009

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.