On the heels of Monday's story about Elliot Saltman trying to fight off cheating allegations, John Huggan of The Scotsman absolutely unloads on the game of golf and its image-first sensibility. After blasting golf for its overreliance on rules even when no advantage is gained, a position we've echoed here before, Huggan locks, loads and then opens fire:
You may not want to hear this, but golf at every level is rife with cheating. Well, OK, rife may be too strong a word. But it's out there, at every level of the game up to and including the professional level, where the temptation to transgress is obviously increased by the often huge financial rewards available.
You'll never read the names of those involved though. Officialdom doesn't want you to know who they are (and the legal implications of publicly exposing the culprits don't help either). Some, in fact, are really quite famous. One multiple major champion, by way of example, is a notorious cheat and the subject of any number of head-shaking locker room tales. Ryder Cup players are not immune either. At least one is tainted forever by his serial cheating. And there are others, many of whom have won events through the most dubious of methods.
He continues from there, alleging that a player who is a "huge star in his homeland" has trouble driving the ball as far when he's not on home turf, concluding that "at home his ball was 'hot' and surely illegal, which is perhaps why his bag was never seen without a caddie/guard standing beside it." He also names Kenny Perry by name as a guy who apparently improved his lie a couple years back en route to winning the Phoenix Open.
Here's the thing, though: Rumor-mongering and speculating is fun, and we can hazard some pretty good guesses as to who he's talking about. There aren't many multiple major champions, after all, and few "huge stars" in their home countries who have different driving stats at home and abroad. But as we've seen, golf is a game whose very foundations rest on reputation. Throwing out charges like that can damage careers unfairly and irreparably.
(Aside: And you thought bloggers were bad. Golf fans and media of a certain mindset love to pile on bloggers for speculating or wallowing in tabloid muck while writing from their mother's basement. The implication, of course, is that more serious-minded writers and publications wouldn't dare traffic in such unsourced garbage. It besmirches the dignity of the sport, or whatever. Bull. Anybody still arguing that mainstream media has any kind of moral edge over blogs just isn't paying attention.)
And it rolls on. Monday night, Twitter began buzzing when Judith Coleman, @heyjude66, offered this: "Quite a rumor that someone in the golf world has torn his achilles. Hmmm..."
So, hell, if everybody else is doing it, why can't we? Me, I heard a rumor that a certain professional golfer has horrifically sordid parties in the tool shed of every club he visits. Another one carries exactly six strips of uncooked bacon in his pants every time he plays Augusta. A third once killed a drifter and buried him in a pot bunker during a British Open. Hey, this is fun! And did you hear about the golfer and the one-armed masseuse ...