In the midst of all the political posturing, pamphlet pushing, placard waving and point scoring that’s going on in the build up to the General Election, you may have missed last week’s ‘Bad Sex in Fiction Awards’, the literary world’s annual celebration of the most excruciatingly awful depiction of steamy sensuality in a novel.

For a whole host of obvious reasons, the Tuesday column was not in the running for this carnal carbuncle although the sports editor did once confess that the mere sight of the bamboozling, tortuous introductory paragraphs to the hum-drum haverings often made him go weak at the knees.

Of course, trying to sprinkle these meandering musings with even the slightest hint of mild erotica would be an ill-judged move of bumbling incompetence given that I’ve always thought the erogenous zones were actually an archipelago of volcanic islands near the bloomin’ equator. Let’s just stick to the golf, eh?

Unless you’ve been living on a rocky outcrop near those, er, erogenous zones – well, they must exist somewhere? – you’ll be aware of Patrick Reed’s dodgy shenanigans during the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas at the weekend.

To briefly recap, the former Masters champion was captured on camera twice brushing back sand from directly behind his ball in a waste area with his club as he mulled over a shot on the 11th hole.

HeraldScotland:

Reed carried on regardless and was only notified of the quite blatant infraction by a referee at the end of his round. He was subsequently penalised two shots.

By that stage, of course, footage of Reed’s sinister sweeping had been viewed so many times on social media, online observers had to actually wipe sand from their eyes amid great bouts of roaring, fist-shaking fury.

The footage was pretty damning. A clip of him doing something similar to improve his lie back in 2015 only added to the general furore as the controversy grew arms and legs while Reed played down the intent and even blamed the camera angle during a fairly clumsy explanation.

The word ‘cheat’ was flying around in wild abandon and, regardless of Reed’s protestations, it will be a tag that will stick to him as if it’s been seared on to his back with a branding iron. There will probably be another ‘c’ word doing the rounds but we don’t have to spell it out.

The stares of narrow-eyed suspicion from his peers in the locker room, meanwhile, will just about burn holes in his polo shirt.

One of the most ridiculous things about the whole situation was that Slugger White, the PGA Tour’s authority on the rules, stated that Reed “could not have been a better gentleman” during the prolonged process to assess his penalty once he had finished the round.

Given Reed’s flagrant act, that’s a bit like eulogising Sweeney Todd for his ability to give you a tidy short back and sides before he cuts your throat. He is no stranger to controversy, of course, and this latest, contentious chapter will have added another layer to his notoriety.

There have been allegations of cheating during his college days among a variety of other juicy tales and deeds that have made him one of golf’s chief villains.

In many ways, it’s a role that the Texan revels in and, for some golf enthusiasts, there has been an almost grudging admiration for his combative spirit, fierce competitive instinct and fist-pumping defiance which has brought him considerable success.

That admiration will be in very short supply now and, given his back-story and ability to stir the pot, very few will be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

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Unlike countless other sports, where various acts of chicanery are actively encouraged and are often greeted with a wink of “nice try, mate”, golf, which is far from perfect, likes to pride itself on its self-regulating nature. The core value of honesty is at its very bedrock.

What was it the celebrated Bobby Jones said when he called a penalty on himself at the 1925 US Open, ended up losing a play-off and was lavished with praise for being so conscientious? “You may as well praise a man for not robbing a bank.”

The vast majority say Reed intended to improve his lie. An unrepentant Reed maintains he didn’t intend to do it. The parrying and jousting will go on.

There have been plenty of instances in golf where a player breaks a rule because he or she is simply not au fait with a particular rule, which in itself is a dereliction of professional duty. That doesn’t mean they are a cheat, though.

What Reed did in the Bahamas, though, looks unpardonable. There was some irritating sand behind his ball when he surveyed it. After two practise swings, there was less sand behind it.

Sorry Patrick, but in this game of honour, these were far from honourable intentions.

AND ANOTHER THING

The Presidents Cup between the US and the Internationals tends to be greeted with the kind of nonchalant, dismissive shrug you’d get when you walk by an out-of-tune busker on the High Street.

The cheat storm whipped up by Reed gives this week’s tussle an added edge, though, while it will be intriguing to see if Tiger Woods inspires or intimidates his US team in his role as playing captain.

For once the Presidents Cup will be worth a watch.