August 31, 2018

Rules of Golf - "Backstopping"

Is backstopping cheating? It depends, let's discuss.

“Backstopping” became a hot topic in professional golf this year and many golf publications have written on it and some demand that it “must stop.”

First, what is “backstopping?” Backstopping is the term writers have given to when a player leaves their ball near the hole in a position that might serve as a “back stop” for another player who is playing a shot from off the green. Imagine two players are playing together in a group and they both miss the green on a par 3. Player A chips and his ball and it comes to rest two feet from the hole which is slightly behind the hole for Player B’s shot. Player B has a difficult little chip down a fast slope, which is difficult to stop near the hole. Player B chips and his ball quickly rolls past the hole and then collides with Player A’s ball stopping Player B’s ball just a couple feet from the hole rather than rolling another twenty or so feet past the hole. What a great break for Player B right?

Some golf fans argue that situations like the example above are frequently happening in professional golf and it is basically cheating. Well, is it cheating?

Rule 22 – Ball Assisting or Interfering with Play, covers these situations. If any player in the competition thinks a ball might assist another player, he may insist that the ball be marked and lifted. The player then must mark and lift their ball (don’t clean it if the ball lies off the putting green).

Additionally, players must not agree to leave a ball in a position for the purpose of assisting a player. If two players agree to leave a ball in a position that might assist a player, the players that made the agreement are disqualified. It is the Committee’s duty to determine if an agreement has been made.

When we see this happen on TV sometimes we see a player hit a shot a little quicker than normal as to not allow the other player enough time to walk up and mark his ball. Other times, the player with the ball near the hole may ask, “would you like that marked?” and a response of “nah, it’s fine” is typical. These examples are acceptable under the Rules, unless a player insists that the ball must be lifted.

When allowable, use the Rules to your advantage!

Rule 22

Additional stories and videos on backstopping:


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