Gamesmanship - Not Cheating!


The furore surrounding Suzann Petterson’s Solheim Cup indiscretion is somewhat perplexing from the point of view of a hacker. Refusing to acknowledge a ‘Gimme’ when walking away from the green, then claiming a point when her opponent Alison Lee presumed an obligatory ‘Gimme’ had been given, and lifted her ball without putting out. Petterson has suddenly become the villainous Antichrist for her actions, and the whole Golfing world is reeling over the lack of sportsmanship.

When I say the whole golfing world, obviously we can exclude those of us that would have viewed Lee’s putt as a terrifying, easily missable test of nerves. Sixteen inches was the estimated length of the putt – twice as far as some of us have had the misfortune to develop the yips from and send it four feet past. Why on earth should someone be given a get-out-of-jail-free card in such an important game?

The romantics and purists are quick to cite Jack Nicklaus’ concession to Tony Jacklin in the 1969 Ryder Cup – a match that very few of us would remember, suggesting that it was the ultimate act of sportsmanship and should be the yardstick by which all golfing standoffs are measured. The truth of it was however, that the several-foot putt that Nicklaus so kindly ‘Gave’ to Jacklin counted for absolutely nothing anyway. The best Jacklin could do by sinking the putt would be to halve the hole, which ultimately would have handed the trophy to the Americans anyway. If anything, it denied Tony the chance of a bit of glory by at least legitimately halving his match with the great Nicklaus.

This is the reason our society give away nothing over six inches. Seventeen years or so playing our annual competitions in Majorca have proved one thing beyond doubt; We’re crap, and capable of missing the sort of tap-ins that a small change in the breeze might be capable of sinking. The girls contesting the Solheim Cup may be more likely to hole those tricky little putts, but why should they have it handed to them? And why kick up a fuss when usual protocol is not followed? Rules were adhered to (At least by Petterson), and the claims of unsporting conduct were unjustified.

Apparently, walking off the green before your opponent has putted out is universally recognised as conceding the putt. Total rubbish! - I like to silently break wind after I’ve putted out and exit the green rapidly, allowing the remaining three players to fight amongst themselves as to who has committed a gross act of off-putting gamesmanship on a crucial hole. Even more so if Graham or Ashey are amongst the three suspects, knowing full well that their reputations alone will incriminate them.

In fact, due to my lack of practice, the only weapon in my armoury this year in Majorca will be gamesmanship, particularly the anal kind, and I’ve spent the last few weeks dieting on Wigan salads (Or meat pies, as we call them) brushing up my timing. I expect slices, hooks, pulls, topping and shanks galore (And that’s just on the practice putting area!) but like everyone else, I’m going to be ensuring I do what I can to remain in contention.

Don’t look at me when you’re ten inches away, with that look that says “Surely you’re giving me that?” I’m more likely to say “You gotta be kidding” and remind you of all the putts you’ve missed that week. Or just before you tee off I’ll be pointing out every hazard on the hole, and ensuring you’re well aware of how difficult a bunker you’re about to play from. – Beware!

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