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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

The 6 best #GolfWRX photos on Instagram today (5.24.19)

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In this segment, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best #GolfWRX tagged photos on Instagram. In case you aren’t already, there’s a whole load of action going on at our page, so follow us: @golfwrx

Let’s get to it then, here are six of the best #GolfWRX photos from the past 24 hours.

Fans of the NY Yankees will love this creation from Dormie Workshop.

Three new additions to SuperSpeed – Abraham Ancer is one of those.

Honma clubs at Par-Tee Golf. The one set left.

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Only one set in store. S-05 5 stars Honma set

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How about some Derek Fisher game used Jersey covers?

Slick Saskatchewan flag headcover from Rawhide Golf.

What do you make of this flat-stick creation from Cushman Custom Golf, WRXers?

Get hashtagging your golf posts #GolfWRX for your chance to feature in our best of Instagram posts in the future!

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19th Hole

Johnny Miller returns to the airwaves on Real Golf Talk, Callaway’s new podcast

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Johnny Miller is back sharing his opinions on the game on Callaway’s new podcast: Real Golf Talk, which aired its first episode today (listen here on Soundcloud).

The longtime NBC golf announcer retired from broadcasting earlier this year, but Miller now features alongside avid golfer and television host Chris Harrison on the podcast, which will air six episodes in 2019 and eight in future seasons.

Speaking on the opportunity to work alongside Johnny Miller on the podcast, co-host Chris Harrison stated

“Johnny Miller was a legend on the course and in the TV booth there was no equal. I know he’s got more to say on the world of golf and the world in general. There’s no chance I’m missing the opportunity to sit next to him and hear what he has to say.”

Miller (who, sidebar, will play all Callaway products) said this

“I am proud be returning to Callaway and working with the company’s incredible team on some exciting new projects. I’ve had so many great experiences with the company, from playing their equipment to working with Mr. Callaway and so many amazing people over the years. It feels like a homecoming for me, and I think golf fans will really enjoy what we have coming, starting with our new Real Golf Talk podcast.”

Real Golf Talk with Johnny Miller is a part of the Callaway Podcast Network and is available on Apple, Spotify, and Soundcloud.

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19th Hole

The 6 best #GolfWRX photos on Instagram today (5.22.19)

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In this segment, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best #GolfWRX tagged photos on Instagram. In case you aren’t already, there’s a whole load of action going on at our page, so follow us: @golfwrx

Let’s get to it then, here are six of the best #GolfWRX photos from the past 24 hours.

Impressive detail on this flat-stick from Kevin Burns putters.

How could anyone say no to these?

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Wa Wa Waaaaaah

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Ty Munneke showing off his bag of PXG clubs, as well as his superb driver headcover.

The new LINQ Blue shaft from UST Mamiya Golf Shafts.

Double Bubble gear in action!

I think it’s fair to say that Charley Hoffman often hits it flush.

Get hashtagging your golf posts #GolfWRX for your chance to feature in our best of Instagram posts in the future!

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