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Is golf still a gentleman’s game?

There are games and there are games. Okay, football tops. In football, you get to see an arbiter running himself silly while trying to keep…

There are games and there are games. Okay, football tops. In football, you get to see an arbiter running himself silly while trying to keep up with what happens on the pitch. But right under the referee’s nose, players still punch the ball into the net with hands. If they are not doing this, you’ll see them diving all over the box just to earn a cheap penalty. Now, we are not going to be talking about those silly balls in flight that keep play on. Just know it a referee can do you in just through his own opinion of what an ‘offside’ rule is. Football is one game that could really kick you in the butt.

Okay, boxing too could make you cry blue murder anytime you get real close to the ringside. Just a square ring that is a bit bigger than a sugar box and the referee can’t still call the game right. You won’t know it but the referee would be there and boxers would be head butting and eating off each others’ ears.

Well, thank God for golf. No matter how big the tournament is, you are your own arbiter. You mark your opponent’s card, though, but your opponent won’t doubt the score you pull through to him. You could be a terrible hacker and your ball is always landing in the bush. When the ball is found, nobody is following you to the bush where you are expected to rescue it back to the fairway. You are on your own. And still, it is believed you will never get the ball to the fairway by heaving it as if you are releasing a stone from a sling. Isn’t this wonderful? Well, it is. This is why the game of golf is referred to as a gentleman’s game. 

You see, you dare not attempt to cheat. If your ball moves while you are dressing it… and nobody sees you at that point, you must own up that you faltered. You can’t afford to be smart. If you are caught cheating on the golf course, the doors would be shut in your face. Nobody will want to play with you any longer. Nobody will want to do business with you. You will be like Mike Tyson, nobody wants you. You will always be the issue when golfers are talking at the hole 19. The way they will be looking at you will be different. No more five-star treatment. To golfers, a golf cheat is a piece of shit… a scum.

But things are getting out of hand around courses in Nigeria. Everywhere you go, you now hear people discussing in hushed voices about golfers who won’t stop hoofing balls with their legs. Some are even known to be in the habit of teeing balls in the rough before getting it back to the fairway. Just allow ‘preferred lie’ in any tourney and you could see desperate golfers who would be preferring lie on the putting surface. The shock of this is there are even players who hit the course with balls carrying same number. The idea is clear enough. It could be that you hook poorly and your ball gets buried in the mud, all you need do is drop another ball with same number as the one resting in the mud. What bollocks. But these things are happening on our courses daily. And gradually, this act is even turning into a fad. It is even to that some golfers. Can even descend to an all time low where they ask their caddies to assist them in this inglorious act of cheating. What a shame.

In any case, cheating is way out of golf. In foreign countries, nobody wants to hear about it. There are clubs in Europe and America that expel players at once when a case of cheating is substantiated. But in Nigeria, such cases only end as hole 19 chit-chat. But cheats need help. And that help won’t come if their cases are treated in isolation.

The way to stop cheating on our courses is simple enough. Golfers must report cheats officially. It doesn’t even matter if such a cheat is a friend. Some might not be bold enough to report a cheat in the open. Such fellows could still do the needful by exposing a cheat through an anonymous note to the Club’s Captain or Competition Secretary who in turn will help ‘heal’ the cheat through a solemn like a preacher on the pulpit.


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