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'Reverse sandbagging'

Update: November, 06/2016 - 09:00
Viet Nam News

by Robert Bicknell

This is taking “reverse sandbagging”  to a new level…

A pair of very daring Aussies, Morgan Ruig and Evan Shay, were in China for a polo tournament when they decided to try to pose as pro golfers and enter the tournament in North Korea (DPRK). They sent an email to officials, and to their surprise, they heard back. They were in.

Due to miscommunication, or probably just not knowing any better, they mistook them for the Australian team upon arrival and, fearing what might have happened if they admitted they were just a couple of blokes who wanted to play, decided to go along with it.

They both shot 120 and, funny enough, avoided finishing dead last.

It begs to wonder what would have happened if they had won the event. There are all sorts of stories how people disappear after doing something which upsets the DPRK government, so beating the local champion might not be viewed favourably.

Either way, sorry DPRK…you got PWNED…

Now then, at the top of the column, I used the term “reverse sandbagging”. Believe it or not, this happens more often that you think but it’s not as well-known as normal sandbagging because it really has no effect on the outcome of a tournament.

In a nutshell, a reverse sandbagger is an amateur golfer who, due to pride or refusal to accept reality, claims a lower handicap than they actually are. When they submit scorecards for handicap, they only put in their best scores – which usually include gimmies inside the flagstick, mulligans and do-overs.

However, like a true sandbagger, their most effective weapon is a pencil and eraser.

As a tournament director and club manager, I see these types of people from time to time and, to be honest, we leave them alone. These are the guys who ALWAYS shoot a score significantly higher than their handicap and they always claim they “had a bad day” or blame the greens, the caddies, the weather or rotation of the earth.

They are no threat to anyone in the club tournament because they never win.

However, amateurs posing as professionals to get into a tournament is a different story. First of all, it takes a spot away from a qualified player who needs to try and earn a living, and it embarrasses the hell out of the tournament organizers.

One of the most embarrassing was a guy named Maurice Flitcroft, shipyard crane-operator who had posed as a professional golfer to gain entry into the qualifying round of the Open Championship.

His previous experience amounted some hacking around on playing fields near his home.

Flitcroft prepared for the tournament by studying a golf instruction manual by Peter Alliss , borrowed from his local library. He also read instructional articles by the 1966 PGA Championship winner Al Geiberger, and honed his skills on a nearby beach.

His 49-over-par (121) was the worst score in the tournament’s history and brought about a changing of the entry rules to the Open Championship.

Amazingly enough, he tried to enter the Open Championship again the next year, as well as other events  either under his own name or under pseudonyms such as Gene Paceky (as in paycheque), Gerald Hoppy and James Beau Jolley.

However, England isn’t the only place where strange things happen.

In the US, Mac O’Grady tried to get through “Q-School” 16 times before finally making it in 1982. During that time, he legally changed his name from Phil McGleno to Phillip McClelland O’Grady, and then to Mac O’Grady so he could keep trying.

He’s also either a mad genius, or a certified lunatic, depending on who you talk to.

Here in Việt Nam, we do our best to catch legitimate cheats who try and sandbag their way to tournament glory – not to mention trying to cheat their friends and other members during normal play.

Reverse sandbaggers only hurt themselves. Some actually believe they are better than they are, others know deep down they aren’t that good, but pride prevents them from admitting it to themselves.

In some ways you feel sorry for them, but golf is a test of character and is quite revealing.

If you go into business with a reverse sandbagger, don’t be surprised if he makes promises he cannot keep. VNS


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