Out of Bounds: Patrick Reed helping make the ‘C’ word less taboo

Controversial American has turned cheating into a conversation starter, not a stopper

Patrick Reed was victorious in Mexico last week. Photograph: Rob Carr/Getty

Patrick Reed was victorious in Mexico last week. Photograph: Rob Carr/Getty

 

Here’s a thing. Do you think, in a perverse way, that Patrick Reed’s position as (golfing) enemy No.1 could actually be good for the game?

The “c” word, as in cheating, has come out of the long grass like some kind of snake which has lost its way and, instead of being hidden from sight, has been put to the fore of golfing conversations at the 19th hole.

Reed’s on course misdemeanours have been circling for some time - going back to his college days, but on too into his professional career (with his USA team mate and fellow Major winner Brooks Koepka among those not shy about pointing the finger) - and, in truth, only Patrick Reed knows what it is like to look in the mirror and know how he feels about it all.

What is important is that the issue is a conversation maker rather than a conversation stopper. Thank you, Mr Reed.

Cheating goes on, and no place is sacred. You can be assured that it happens in some form or other at pretty much every golf course in the land; and an ignorance of the rules is no defence for any breaches of the rules.

Unfortunately, there are those who willfully cheat, there are also those playing with them who do not call them out. It is time that it became okay to point out such breaches rather than keeping silent or turning a blind eye whenever it happens.

Patrick Reed has courted controversy for his on course misdemeanours. Photograph: Rob Carr/Getty
Patrick Reed has courted controversy for his on course misdemeanours. Photograph: Rob Carr/Getty

On the professional side of things, the ever-growing numbers of cameras at tournaments means that any such actions (as emphasised by Reed’s practice swings in a sand bunker at the Hero late last year, which have stuck like a leech to him since) will most likely be captured and discovered. On that occasion, Reed’s brushing away of sand on his practice swings (which he claimed were unintentional and of which he wasn’t aware) was caught on camera and he was penalised following his round before signing his card.

Cheating is no longer a taboo subject, a word to be whispered. Rick Reilly even managed to get a book out of it, focusing on the looseness with the rules of none other than Donald Trump. One of the stories in “Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Donald Trump” is related of the President’s round at Winged Foot, which as it happens is the host course for this year’s US Open. Reilly recounts how the caddies “got so used to seeing him kick his ball back onto the fairway they came up with a nickname for him: ‘Pele’.”

The bottom line is that cheating is a topic of discussion and should be, for amateurs and professionals and all who play the game.

And it is worth every player to take a look at the very first rule in the Rules of Golf, which introduces the principles of the game: Play the course as you find it and play the ball as it lies; play by the rules and in the spirit of the game; you are responsible for applying your own penalties if you breach a rule so that you cannot game any potential advantage over your opponent in match play or other players in stroke play.

Simple. Really. And cheating is not okay.

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