For the life of me I cannot understand why people get so bent out of shape about the legitimacy of handicaps. If someone is cheating to get a better handicap, how does it hurt you?? In my 30 years of playing this game. There are 2 kinds of players that I despise playing with the most. The slow player and the pro wannabe rule nazi. I happen to play by the rules all the time, but frankly my game allows me to do so AND keep the pace of play because 98% of the time I don't have to deal with a "penalty" situation. For the 20+ handicappers, they have penalty scenarios on 50% of the holes depending on the course. I don't expect people to memorize the rules before stepping foot on the course or even before they begin keeping a handicap. For the sake of pace of play, I don't want them pulling out rulebooks constantly. I am not sure USGA does either. I think as people learn the game and learn the rules, their handicaps will become more legitimate. When I teach my son this game, I will first teach him ettiquette and pace of play. When tournament golf is on the horizon we will teach rules.
There is a big difference between people who break rules because they do not know the rule and people who break rules for "convenience". Which is usually the convenience of writing down a smaller number than they deserve on the scorecard. Like moving their ball from an unplayable lie but not adding the penalty stroke because the unplayable lie was a rock or a root. Or dropping a ball when theirs is lost or OB and adding a stroke - giving themselves a one stroke gift. Or the convenience of not embarrassing themselves by missing that 3 foot putt. Need I go on?