COMMENTARY | This week Golf.com released the results of an anonymous survey it conducted with 70 PGA Tour players. While the publication's past survey questions are a bit tongue-in-cheek ("Who has the hottest wife?", which went to Mrs. Aaron Baddeley), a few others have generated much discussion among players and fans alike.
The most eye-opening results were those answers coming from the following question:
"Have you ever witnessed another Tour player cheat?"
An astonishing 38 percent of players polled answered "Yes" to this question. A few even offered some accompanying comments.
"Yes, and it was knowingly. Everybody knows who he is, and everybody knows he does it."
"Yes, and it's the same two players - it's terrible."
"How many yeses do you have? Isn't that crazy? You'd expect it in high school golf or something, but not out here."
So what are we talking about here, exactly? Surely professional golfers aren't using the old "foot-wedge" to push their golf ball out from behind a tree or shaving strokes during their round. With the number of high-definition cameras and fans at every tournament, it has to be impossible for a player to get away with anything too obvious. Or is it?
In 2011, Golf.com asked 50 PGA Tour caddies a similar question on how often they've seen a player cheat during a tournament round. More than half of those polled admitted that they had seen at least one instance of deliberate foul play.
"You see guys tamping down the rough behind their ball with a 3-wood and then hitting a 9-iron out," said one of the caddies, speaking under the veil of anonymity. "It's illegal, but it happens all the time."
Another caddie suggested that one player - who remained nameless in the report - takes a few liberties on the putting green.
"Everyone knows it," the caddie said. "The way he marks his ball, he'll turn a 23-inch putt into a 21-inch putt, which is huge psychologically."
Obviously the question of taking a legal drop has come up more than once this season, especially surrounding World No. 1 Tiger Woods during this year's Masters tournament. Surely that example was more an exception than the norm, right? Not so much, as a third survey respondent suggested two years prior."I have seen a lot of 'manipulation of the rules,' if you know what I mean -- people wanting drops that aren't exactly ethical but that they've somehow justified in their minds," the caddie said.
There is no question that the majority of Tour players maintain a level of integrity and honesty while playing tournaments. However, just as in any sport where mountains of cash are on the line, it appears not even professional golf is safe from the occasional bad apple.
Adam Fonseca has covered professional golf since 2005. His work can also be found on the Back9Network. Follow Adam on Twitter at @chicagoduffer.
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