Throw fair play down a little hole

September 12, 1994|By KEVIN COWHERD

There are many ways to improve your golf score, but the one that works best for me is cheating.

Constant practice, maintaining a level swing, keeping your head down . . . sure, I guess those things can help your game, too.

But for the occasional golfer (like me) who wants dramatic results without a lot of effort, cheating is the way to go.

Bottom line: Cheating works. Properly done, the duffer who regularly fails to break 100 can be shooting in the mid-80s literally overnight.

Many golfers are reluctant to cheat because they're afraid of getting caught.

And I'll admit it can be embarrassing the first time someone in your foursome catches you kicking your ball out of the rough after first distracting everyone with shouts of: "Geez, what is that, a bear?"

But you'd be surprised -- after being called a "dirty cheater" a half-dozen times or so, the term loses its sting.

Plus your scores will improve so dramatically that soon you'll have no problem singing out: "Put me down for a 4" when everyone knows you shot a 6 (at least) on the hole.

And, please, let's not see a lot of sweaty hand-wringing or tedious sermonizing over the moral implications of cheating.

Lousy golfers like me don't want to cheat. It's just that the game is so darn frustrating.

After failing to blast out of a bunker with three awkward swings and getting sand all over yourself and feeling like you could just kill someone, who could blame you for picking up the stupid ball when no one's looking and tossing it on the green?

Answer: no one.

At least no one with a heart.

Which is what I keep telling myself. Because, friends, I've cheated just about every way you can on a golf course.

I've miraculously "found" lost balls in rough so thick you couldn't see a beach ball, never mind a Titleist. I've whiffed at a ball and pretended it was a practice swing more times than I can remember.

I've done everything but bring in a John Deere tractor to improve my lie on the fairway.

I . . . I hate myself.

No, I don't.

But I do feel ashamed at times. Still, a good kind of shame, especially when you chop 15 strokes off your score just like that.

The beauty of cheating at golf is that not only can you improve your game, you can also screw up your opponent's game. This is particularly true when he or she is preparing to putt, at which point you could jingle the change in your pocket or feign a coughing spasm to distract him.

For my money, though, nothing rattles a golfer's concentration like tearing open the Velcro on your golf glove.

Let's face it, aside from the screech of an accordion or the noise created when Kathie Lee Gifford drones on and on about Cody, there is no more annoying sound on Earth than the tearing open of a Velcro fastener.

Done often enough, it eventually becomes like the whine of a dentist's drill -- that is, it evokes an anticipatory fear that so unnerves the listener he can think of nothing else.

Other tactics that can unglue your opponent as he putts: walking across the path between his ball and the cup, which leaves tiny spike marks that could cause the ball to veer slightly on its way to the hole. Standing on the green so your shadow crosses the cup. Suddenly walking away while he's putting.

Finally, if all this fails to distract your opponent, holding a small mirror and reflecting the sun's rays into his eyes usually does the trick.

At this point, of course, your opponent might very well become enraged and accuse you of being the dirtiest player he's ever seen.

Feign complete innocence. Accuse him of being paranoid. Ask him pointedly if he's been under a lot of stress at the office.

Remind him that "it's only a game."

You, on the other hand, should remain the picture of affable composure while putting. Although left with a four-foot downhill putt on a slick green, you might loudly demand: "C'mon, isn't that a gimme?"

Now, what exactly am I saying here?

Am I saying cheating is the only effective way to better golf?

Am I saying every single golfer should consider cheating as a strategy for lower scores?

Am I saying the more morally bankrupt you are, the better your game will be?

Yes, that is exactly what I'm saying.

The sooner you understand that, the better.

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