The ultimate goal of the rules is to protect the players from themselves and each other. It creates a level playing field with boundaries that keep competitors in line.
However, none of it matters without the
of the players. Unlike other sports, golfers often monitor their own adherence to the rules. Opportunities to cheat are everywhere, but most people decline. Why?
A player understands that cheating is ultimately pointless, because a failure to play by the rules means that you aren't even playing the game in the first place. Plus, there is no sense of accomplishment from shooting a good round while illegally shaving strokes.
True, there are players who cheat regularly. They tend to earn a bad reputation, and may be untrustworthy people in other areas of life. Once branded a cheater, it's difficult to earn the trust of your peers again.
In the end, it's just not worth it. We have everything to lose and nothing to gain... so let's just play by the rules!