**** Warning! This post contains asterisks. ****
Back in August of this year, I had an interesting experience on the golf course. If you're someone I occasionally share banter with on Twitter you'll probably remember this conversation.
A friend and myself had entered into the Eastern division matchplay knockout of a competition organised by a well known golf social network. The end prize was a trip to Portugal to play in the finals. We gelled very well together and made it to the semi finals with a home draw. We were feeling confident, and had every right to, based on past results and the fact that we were both playing well at the time.
On the day of the match we met our opponents on the putting green. I must say regrettably my first subconscious reaction was not a positive one. I say 'regrettably' because I don't like to judge people so quickly but something just didn't feel right. Let's call it golfers intuition if such a thing exists! :)
We teed off, and by hole 4 we were 2 up even after a shaky start. I felt good because I could feel that 'in the zone' feeling coming on. You may know what I mean, you've won a couple of holes without playing great but you know it's only a matter of minutes before you get it together. The mood between my partner and I was relaxed, our rivals were quite wayward with their shots and they were quite aggressive in their language to one another. I sensed we'd have enough technically and mentally to beat them.
I hit the green of the par 5 4th hole in 4 shots and left myself with a 20 footer for par. My buddy was on the fringe in 4 and he had a shot on the hole whereas I didn't. Basically he needed an up and down or I needed to sink my putt to give us some chance.
What happened next shocked and saddened me and my buddy.
One of the guys on the other team fluffed his chip (3rd shot) from the fringe and left himself about 20 feet from the hole. It really was a bad chip. It didn't even go in the general direction of the hole. Almost a shanked chip I'd say with hindsight. I watched as he walked onto the green to his ball, stepped about 2 to 3 feet closer to the hole, bent down and placed his marker on the green. He then stepped back and picked up the ball. He'd cheated right in front of our eyes! I couldn't believe it.
Immediately, I piped up - 'I saw what you did there, you placed your marker about 3 feet closer to the hole!'
My buddy jumped in - 'Yeah, and I saw it too!'
The cheat opened his mouth, and gestured at me very aggressively - 'No I ******* didn't, **** off'.
At this point his partner joined in the argument and started accusing me and my partner of gamesmanship! The cheek of it!
The cheat spoke again - 'Alright, you can have the ******* hole then!'. (A confession?)
In a fit of madness, I stood over my 20 footer and drained it into the hole! To this day I don't know how I managed to sink that putt, it was Zen like. I retrieved my ball and stormed off to the next tee, angry on the outside but wobbly on the inside!
We should have walked in and asked for a replay with a ref present or claimed the match. But we didn't, walking in didn't even cross my mind. My pride got the better of me and I decided to play on to try and beat them fair and square. I was very frustrated, truthfully quite edgy and unsettled by the whole affair and the aggression that came with it.
I'm going to end the story here. We lost on the 20th hole.
I hope I never witness this again on a golf course but if I do, I'll handle it in a different way next time.
Why would anybody want to cheat at golf? It doesn't make sense.