Golf itself is to blame for the bandits as it invents confusing scoring systems Image Credit: ANM Archive

Golf, as you may all know, is scored using a handicap system where, based on trust, people who are less adept are given additional strokes per round over a more skilled golfer i.e. a 0 handicap or ‘scratch’ golfer. Though that is not the same as a ‘pro’, but I digress.

It’s a historical footnote that despite (or perhaps due to) the fact that golf is played, or seen to be played, by the wealthier doyens of society, trust in this system has been eroded. This it seems is especially true when prizes are on the line.

Mark Mortimer-Davies, right, and his cohorts
Mark Mortimer-Davies, right, and his cohorts Image Credit: Supplied

Banditry crosses cultures, as shameful as it may be.

I’ve even witnessed two Welshmen using tees on the fairways, mind you, one was a Valleys Commando and the other from Cardiff so expectations of honesty were not set high.

Not long after my friends tired of mentally intimidating me on the course, I sought pastures new. Enter night golf at Emirates Golf Club and a new, 28 handicapped, partner.

We were moving to the first tee: a nervous moment in anyone’s life never mind now having to hit a ball straight down a very narrow tunnel of bright light. At the very last minute, we were paired with two ‘scratch’ golfers who proceeded to whine and moan all the way around about our militaristic left-right, left-right golf, or the speed of the people in front, as they smashed the ball straight, long and true at every opportunity. A forgetful meeting for them, but not for me.

Two weeks later, my moment of triumph arrived, an invite to a corporate golf day at Jumeirah Golf Estates, (no more Segways for me!) I get there early, free cappuccino, free shirt and balls (Yarmy missed out this time) and all you have to do is register at the main table. I wander over “Handicap 28” I announce proudly and then to my left I see one of the moaners signing in and when asked for a handicap says 2!!

The audacity! Now, what do you do say? “Oh you slipped badly in the last fortnight!” or mention something quietly to the stewards? As much as he´d ruined my night golf, do I really want to disembowel the man in public? No. Plus, I had no proof. So, I am ashamed to say, I did nothing. Luckily, he didn’t win a prize to compound my cowardice.

Now, unlike Doom, more of him later, I am not a strict rules man. We have all at some time used the ‘kickwedge - a highly useful club made typically of leather to place a ball away from a palm tree - when playing amongst friends.

But on reflection, golf itself is to blame for the bandits as it invents more and ever confusing scoring systems: best ball, stableford, etc.

If you take nine shots on a hole, only count seven as that’s the maximum stroke index for the hole …. HUH!! … No wonder people get confused or, perhaps more accurately, are actually seeking confusion?

Ignoring Maple´s cultural four despite three out of the bunker… how we deal with cheating is a serious question for the sport / game. From Handicap Bandits, to Stroke Shavers, I have even heard that in certain parts of the Far East ladies don’t count ‘gimmes’ as it is seen as an extension to their last shot, a fact yet to be validated but where will it all end?!