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19th Hole

POLL: Backstopping on the PGA Tour: Big deal or who cares?

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Fueled by Jimmy Walker’s statement-of-the-obvious tweets the other day, backstopping is once again a topic of discussion in the world of golf.

If you’re unaware what backstopping is, well, for one thing, you can thank Geoff Shackelford for coming up with the term (Thanks, Geoff). With respect to a definition, Jason Day explained it pretty well to Golf.com’s Michael Bamberger.

“Backstopping is when you and your playing partner are off the green and you chip up and don’t mark your ball and he chips and hits the ball, which causes him to be closer to the hole than he was going to be.”

For reference, the Walker tweet in question read

“If you don’t like a guy you will mark anyway…If you like the guy you might leave it to help on a shot. Some guys don’t want to give help at all and rush to mark their ball. To each his own.”

Now, before digging any deeper, it’s important to remember that backstopping, when done deliberately, is quite illegal. Rule 22 of the Rules of Golf states, “In stroke play, if the committee determines that competitors have agreed not to lift a ball that might assist any competitor, they are disqualified.”

Of course, determining that “competitors have agreed,” would always be difficult, but still…

Plenty of folks are fired up about players helping players: Curtis Strange, and Paul Azinger in particular. Jason Day and Dustin Johnson have both made remarks opposing the practice recently.

Rather than cataloguing the responses, we want to know what the GolfWRX membership thinks. Assuming backstopping is commonly practiced on Tour, what are your thoughts?

Is backstopping in professional golf a big deal?

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Feel free to elaborate on your vote in the comments!

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. ewfnick

    Jun 14, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    Is this worse than crushing a tee shot into the gallery and not shouting fore?

  2. Matt

    Jun 14, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    If a guy was able to reliably hit a shot into another ball, would he not just take that extraordinary accuracy and hit the hole instead?

  3. thebigdad

    Jun 14, 2018 at 11:56 am

    #markthedamnedball

  4. James T

    Jun 14, 2018 at 11:43 am

    The intent of the rule is that your shot is your shot, dependent on your skill. Not a wayward shot saved by a ball/backstop. Always mark within 20 yards. No wink and a nod.

  5. Murica

    Jun 14, 2018 at 1:30 am

    People suck. People don’t want to play by the rules. People don’t want to obey the law. America the great.

  6. john

    Jun 13, 2018 at 10:42 pm

    It’s a rule and pros need to follow the rules. So either DQ them or get rid of the rule. This should be followed in all competition play.

    For the weekend golfer, it’s a moot point since most rules are more like guidelines.

  7. MikeyB

    Jun 13, 2018 at 10:40 pm

    I don’t see how this can be a ‘thing’ in professional golf with so many rules junkies in the gallery. How often do we see ‘chipped’ balls making contact anyway? Yes, we do see approach shots from say 125+ yards occasionally roll out and make contact. No one however is running in from 175 yards to mark a ball before the opponent takes his turn.

    Quite frankly this sounds like a non-issue. Announcers always make a point of saying that when the balls make contact someone will have to try and figure out as best they can where the balls should be placed before being putted.

  8. DJ May

    Jun 13, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    Hey PGA…let’s do something about slow play. Watching Pat “happy feet” Cantlay at the Memorial was outrageous. Give them shot link numbers to the pin when they approach their ball, throw some grass in the air if needed, consult yardage book for danger areas on green ect…and hit the ball

  9. Tommy

    Jun 13, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    When I’m ready to play, it’s a pain for my near cripple playing partner to make it to the green to mark when I’m ready to play. If he asks, I’ll say “no”, I’m ready to play. I’ve already been waiting for you to hit it…there. I think it’s not much of an issue except in rare instances…those should stop and I’m sure it will after this hiccup.

  10. Matt

    Jun 13, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    Might as well add a 3 foot circle around the hole and just give a gimme. They’re only making millions upon millions of dollars who needs to play fair. They should change it to if it’s not marked and just sitting there then it can not be moved back because it was a backstop. If people are worried about pace of play because of marking a ball they don’t know Speith being slow on every shot with multiple times taking over a half hour between shots.

  11. JThunder

    Jun 13, 2018 at 7:41 pm

    A golf ball is a smaller target than the hole. If you’re not able to hit the hole with your chip, then it’s unlikely you can aim at the ball as a backstop. It will happen, but you could argue the chances are fairly slim.

    I believe this has become common because pros would rather spend their time reading putts and working with their caddies rather than running around marking balls. Wasn’t there a time when balls weren’t marked and stymies, etc?

    Anyway – whatever the decision is, just keep the pace of play improving. We certainly don’t need anything to further slow down the pro game.

  12. faq

    Jun 13, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    ‘backstopping’ sounds fallacious… (_*_)

  13. Nathan

    Jun 13, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    On the PGA tour I wouldn’t mind them marking the ball (they have a caddie to help speed play), but again if you enforce this to everyone on a local level it will be a slow day of golf. Most people are thinking about their shot and not about a backstop. However, I think if a competitor asks you to mark, you mark (courtesy). If someone who just hit is asking you about marking they are generally asking if they need to rush up there to mark. This is usually my way of saying I’d rather not rush up there, but I will if you want me to. If I knew it was going to be a competitive advantage against me, I’d always mark. I do not believe you get a lot of intentional backstopping. It is really up to the player who has the ball near to hole to determine the outcome.

    • MattD

      Jun 13, 2018 at 6:43 pm

      If a ball is sitting near the hole and the player who hit it says “do you want me to mark that” and you say “no”, the two of you have agreed to leave a ball in place that will give you an advantage and that’s a breach of Rule 22.

  14. kevin

    Jun 13, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    i’m not surprised so many don’t care either way, but i’m willing to bet some of those would at least like to see the rule clarified so all players on treating each situation the same. get everyone on the same page whatever that may be. as it is now, some ignore the rule, some use it to help others, and other players follow the rule as its intended. the problem with the rule is its vague and hard to prove intent.

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19th Hole

WATCH: Phil Mickelson gets the Happy Gilmore meme treatment

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Maybe it’s too soon to find humor in the Phil Mickelson’s behavior on the 13th green during Saturday’s third round of the U.S. Open.

That said, the initial image of one of the game’s greats running after his golf ball and playing hockey in the manner of a child at mini golf was both shocking and humorous to most observers.

Perhaps not surprisingly, then, the meme producers at SPUN have put together this riff on Mickelson’s putting and post-round remarks, leveraging footage from the great golf masterpiece “Happy Gilmore.”

Check it out.

 

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19th Hole

Hot takes on Phil Mickelson’s Saturday antics continue to fly

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Yesterday, Phil Mickelson played a bit of field hockey on Shinnecock’s 13th green that continues to be the talk of the golf world… Mickelson didn’t do much to quiet the murmurs with his refusal to talk to the media following his final round and his celebratory antics after a made putt at that hole, Sunday.

Regarding the left-hander’s violation of Rule 14-5, we have a thread that’s 18 pages long and 516 replies deep at the time of this writing. It spans the full spectrum of opinions, from staunch support for Phil to outright condemnation.

A poll among golf WRXers saw 41 percent of responders say Mickelson should have been disqualified. 49 percent said he shouldn’t have. 9 percent said Mickelson should withdraw.

MtlJeff had this take

“Imagine if a young player did it. We’d be ready to euthanize all millennials for their horrible tantrums.”

Ssfranny said

“I have to kinda think Phil just gave a big middle finger to the USGA and pin placements.”

Teetogreen

“Frustrated as he may have been, he’s no better than the field. Everyone has to play the same course. I know Phil’s a fan-favorite, but that was wrong and disgraceful.”

Nessism said

“Pure frustration. I feel sorry for him. A momentary lapse of awareness will now cost him endless scritany for years to come.”

Golfgirlrobin quickly perceived what would be Mickelson’s eventual explanation

“Or maybe brilliant. Ball goes all the way down the green into the fairway and taking the penalty might actually have ended up being the better play.”

HolyMoses said

“Phil said he hit the moving ball intentionally so it wouldn’t get behind the bunker again. If he’s that defiant, he should be DQ’d. That’s cheating, plain and simple.”

Moving from WRXers’ takes to a few from other realms.

On Twitter, Lee Westwood played the devil’s advocate with this slippery slope (appropriately) argument.

“Here’s a scenario…Thoughts everyone??? here you go….. over the back on 15 at Augusta. Chip it too hard, run over before it gets to the water and knock it on the green so you don’t have to hit it again or go the drop zone!”

Writer Alan Bastable introduced the specter of Rule 1-2.

“Meanwhile, just two years after the DJ rules fiasco at Oakmont, the USGA blue coats were left to explain to the world why Mickelson hadn’t been disqualified for such an egregious breach of the rules. Indeed, under Rule 1-2, the Committee could have deemed that Mickelson’s actions gave him “a significant advantage,” and therefore warranted a DQ. “I would have lobbied for disqualification,” former USGA executive director David Fay said on the Fox telecast.”

The portion of Rule 1-2 Bastable referenced states.

“A player is deemed to have committed a serious breach of Rule 1-2 if the Committee considers that the action taken in breach of this Rule has allowed him or another player to gain a significant advantage or has placed another player, other than his partner, at a significant disadvantage.”

Golf Channel’s Randall Mell discussed Mickelson’s communication with Mike Davis late Saturday after some scribes floated the idea that the golfer ought to be disqualified.

“Phil really did want to understand how the rule operates,” Davis said. “Frankly, as he said to me, `Mike, I don’t want to play in this championship if I should have been disqualified.’” Davis said he assured Mickelson that Rule 14-5 was correctly applied, and that a two-stroke penalty is all that was required.”

With respect to the claims that Mickelson ought to withdraw, ESPN’s Ian O’Connor wrote this.

“There was a problem with Lefty’s story — a fairly big one. His playing partner, Andrew “Beef” Johnston, said he told Mickelson, “Sorry, but I can’t help but laugh at that. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.” Johnston also had this to say of his exchange with Mickelson: “He said, ‘I don’t know what that is. I don’t know what score that is or what happens now.’ And he started speaking to the rules official. It was one strange moment.”

“The standard-bearer with the group, Connor Buff, a 19-year-old from Smithtown and a student at the University at Albany, said he heard Mickelson tell the rules official, “Whatever I get, I get. Just let me know what it is.”

In other words, according to O’Connor Mickelson was both attempting to gain advantage and, for what it’s worth, lying about his thoughts during the field hockey moment.

And of course, Global Golf Post’s John Hopkins.

Amy Mickelson told Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols

“He has been pretty under fire,” she said. “A lot of people have been pretty rough. … . It’s not like we’re in his shoes and understand what he has gone through. You and me, we are looking at it from the outside, sitting in the press room or family dining. … They’re playing sports for a living, but still in the moment it’s a very heavy week, an intense week. A lot happens over the course of 24 hours every day.

Golf Digest’s Joel Beall wrote this about Mickelson’s mock celebration at the 13th, Sunday. He could just as well have written it Mickelson’s explanation and the whole ordeal

“His critics would call it the act of a charlatan. His fans would say he was being an entertainer. Part of the Phil Mickelson Experience is not knowing which is right.”

What do you think, GolfWRX members? Is there more to be said about the matter? Or, with the U.S. Open wrapped up, should be draw the curtain on all this as well? Do any other takes merit mention?

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19th Hole

See what today’s stars look like with Corey Pavin’s 1995 mustache. Hilarious!

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Surely, you’re familiar with Skratch TV’s efforts.

Launched in 2015, the PGA Tour/Bedrocket joint venture was billed as “golf’s first internet video network,” and it has grown into something pretty special in the golf mediaverse.

However, the producers of Adventures in Golf and a buffet of entertaining social media content have truly outdone themselves with the following.

Well played, Skratch. Well played.

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19th Hole

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