Viet Nam News
By Robert Bicknell
As a golf pro, club manager and general observer of the human condition, I have often wondered why people cheat when there is no reason to. What drives them to do so?
Why do people cheat to win tournaments, why do they cheat on their handicaps? Not all players try to inflate their handicaps, some players also only put in their best cards to have a lower handicap than actual, just to walk around the clubhouse with their chest stuck out.
Why do they do it?
In golf, we like to say that “you’re only cheating yourself” and “you have to look at yourself in the mirror every morning and know you’re a cheater”, but if you analyze those statements without emotion, you’d quickly realize that it’s complete and total bullshit because everyone cheats at something, or has the capacity to do so.
In my opinion, cheating depends on the opportunity, the chances and penalties for getting caught and the rewards for getting away with it.
I am only referring to golf, but it’s a well-known fact that if you cheat at golf you’ll probably cheat at almost everything else too.
The penalties for cheating at golf are quite strict and range from disqualification to being outright ostracized and publically humiliated. Yes, the penalties are harsh, but for a very good reason…
It’s too easy to cheat at golf.
We always joke that the player with the fastest buggy never has a poor lie, and, when it comes to cheaters, it’s very true.
Golf is played on an area of 70 hectares or more. In many situations, your ball is 30-100 yards away from your competitor’s ball, so “improving your lie” or using the old reliable “foot wedge” is a common trait for even the most basic cheater. It’s really like stealing candy from a baby, there is no challenge in it, and that’s why the penalties are so harsh.
Now, I know many players who absolutely never cheat at golf. They always play the ball as it lies and suffer the consequences for their actions. They never blame others and accept responsibility for their own mistakes.
I call these players “true golfers” as opposed to others who simply “play golf” and do as they please out there.
Now, that’s not to say that the people who never cheat at golf wouldn’t cheat at other things, especially very small things, like telling a small lie, avoid paying a toll on the highway, etc. But the chances are they won’t cheat.
But cheating is contagious and some people cheat under the assumption that others cheat, so it’s better to cheat first and beat them to the punch. This is actually one of the bigger reasons for cheating.
When I took over VGCC in 1998, the winning net score in a tournament were often laughable. We’d see people coming onto the stage with a Net 54 to take a trophy without a lick of shame. In their minds, they won the trophy by being smarter than the competitors. They figured everyone else probably cheated, so they are justified in cheating as well.
Of course, they are wrong and, in golf, there is no justification for cheating.
Anyway, my staff and I cracked down on the cheaters in every possible way. You win with a ridiculous score and your handicap got slashed to the bone. When you came on stage with a ridiculous winning score, we gave you a lot of snide and snarky comments.
We started with the biggest group of cheaters out there and once the other groups saw what we were doing, they started to cheat less until it got to the point where cheating was very minimal.
Because the stimulus to cheat was removed, everyone played by the rules.
So, are humans naturally inclined to cheat?
I would like to say no, but there is too much evidence to the contrary. If you see a wallet on the street with US$100 in it, most people would pick it up and pocket the $100, and only a few would make the effort to find the owner and return it. But curiously enough, if there is $1,000 in there, more people would turn it in.
Humans are a strange breed.
Maybe it’s better if more people played golf…VNS