Dudley vs. Snidely

You have no doubt noticed upon the cover of this rag that sugary piece of do-goodery about how a person might gain fair advantage over his or her opponent. How to gain an "edge."

Well, Dudley Do-Right, if that's how you want to go about it, just make sure you save some tea and crumpets for me down at the yacht club afterwards.

This month, my name is Whiplash, pal, as in Snidely. The way I see it, most of us who play do so with little or no regard for the Rules, anyway. If you're going to do it wrong, you might as well get it right and include a decency bypass as well.

Over the next few minutes, I'm going to give you a crash course in how to cheat and weasel your way into your hapless opponent's hip pocket, so prepare yourselves. These are some of the most dastardly deeds in golf, and, although certainly I would never recommend using such techniques in competitive play, that's exactly where most of them have their roots. Over the last 20 years or so, I've bumped into a few rogues and villains who were perfectly happy to make up for their lack of talent on the links with either sleight of hand or nudge of foot.

First, Snidely says it's always a good idea to get his opponent in a bad mood, and preferably before a ball is struck in anger. While they're in the locker room lacing up, Snidely makes a small bet that is designed to make our hero, Dudley, feel like an idiot. He takes the newspaper off the table and says, "I bet you five bucks that if we both stand on this paper face to face, you can't knock me off it with your best push."

Dudley, of course, senses evil afoot, but try as he may, he can't see how the hell Snidely could manage to stay on the paper, even if given only a moderate shove. "You're on!" he says.

Snidely then marches into the bathroom and spreads the paper on the floor, half in, half out of one of the stalls. "Stand on it then," he says with an obsequious smirk. Dudley obeys. Snidely stands up, shuts the door to the stall, and stands on the other half of the paper. Their eyes meet over the top of the door. "Push away," says Snidely.

Dud's one down and they haven't reached the first tee yet. When they do get there, Dud is given the honor, and while he is bending down to tee his ball up, Snidely surreptitiously picks up the nearside tee marker and replaces it a little farther back so it seems that Dud is teeing off from in front of the markers. If Dudley hits a good one, Snidely will ask him to play again. Snidely issues an evil chuckle, and the match is under way.

Snidely has a pocket full of greenish-brown markers, which he has little or no intent to use. On the first green, he pretends to mark his ball, but keeps the marker in his fingers as he picks up the ball. Then he waits for Dudley to putt. While Dud's ball is on its way to the hole, Snidely replaces his ball some six feet closer to the hole, and makes a display of putting his marker back in his pocket. Again, Dudley smells something, but has no evidence of foul play. (I know of one player who actually did this for years before being caught.)

Snidely is wearing a pair of snow-white golf shoes, and by the next tee, he has figured out the extent of Dudley's peripheral vision as he addresses the ball. Snidely makes sure his feet are just in view as Dudley starts his backswing, and Snidely moves his right foot about four inches closer as Dudley gets to the top. This often causes a player to flinch, and better still, to look for the move on the next shot. Of course, Snidely never does it again. Or does he?

Occasionally during the round, Snidely offers sycophantic praise to Dudley. Snidely shamelessly brown-noses about how beautiful Dudley's balance is and how elegant his swing. "Oooh, that was a beauty!" says Snidely of Dudley's tee shot, as it comes to rest 20 yards behind his own.

Snidely's next dirty deed is performed on a hole where both tee shots finish out of view, perhaps over a ridge or around a dogleg. Whenever Dudley hits the longer tee shot, Snidely compliments him on the size of his equipment, his undeniable manliness, or such. This time when both balls are hit on a similar line, Snidely makes sure he gets off the tee quicker than Dud and makes it to his ball first.

Upon reaching his tee shot, Snidely gives it a cursory glance and then a dramatic double take. Then saying, "Mother of Pearl, but I must have hit a real snot-squirter there!" he strides proudly forward to Dudley's ball, plumps down his bag beside it, and turns to wait for Dud. The worst that can happen here is that Dudley will notice the error and call Snidely back to his own ball, in which case he will say, "Silly me," and play on.

Dudley, of course, is a zoned-out turnip, and he goes right ahead and hits the wrong ball. Naturally, it's a beauty, and Snidely is lost in admiration. Then, as Snidely gets into his final waggle, he is dramatically struck by the ghastly realization that this is not his ball. "Ahem," he says, somewhat embarrassed. "That'd be my hole, I believe."

It's cold, the match is all-square on the final hole, and Snidely has been waiting for it to start raining before he pulls his next fast one. He's in luck, 'cause a chilly drizzle starts to fall and he and his dozy opponent are just off the edge of the green. Snidely seems a little put off by the not-particularly-close proximity of Dudley's ball. He asks Dudley to mark it, which of course he is perfectly entitled to do.

Because it's wet and a little nippy, too, Dudley sticks a tee in the ground behind his ball, lifts it, and like most of us would, shoves his hands in his pockets. Brrrrr.... (Buzzer please.) This is not allowed under the Rules of Golf, which state that a ball off the putting surface that has been marked and lifted is not allowed to be cleaned, unless there is a drop involved. When you slip it into the lint, you are deemed to be cleaning it. Oh, dear, what a pity. "My hole," says the evil one, and the match is over.

However, upon doing the gentlemanly thing and striding manfully over to shake the cold, limp hand of his sneaky foe, Dudley goes a little out of his way to notice a short, cut-down putter, which has been hiding beneath the lip of Snidely's golf bag since Dud (who apparently isn't as daft as he looks) cunningly placed it there before they teed off.

As usual, good prevails over evil, and Dudley rides off into the sunset with the beverage cart girl.

I love a happy ending.

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