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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

I wasn’t ready for the 2019 Rules of Golf

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We weren’t ready. We thought we were, but we weren’t.

For the last year, the USGA reminded us that in 2019 Rules of Golf were coming, but we didn’t listen. We heard the flag stick could remain in and we heard that you could take a penalty drop from knee-height.

But we didn’t listen.

I bet none of you have even practiced using your putter to flatten the entire green between your ball and the cup. You can do that now.

I’m also sure that you and I will continue to hover our club in all hazards, er, penalty areas. Yeah, we’re calling it a penalty area now.

The USGA went to the extreme depths of changing words all to simplify the game for you.

I don’t think the USGA listened either.

The rule changes were intended to speed up play and simplify golf for amateurs. Seems like a good idea. In turn, they may have bamboozled the PGA Tour while confusing the only amateurs who kind-of, sort-of knew the rules.

The pros didn’t need a new rule book, the amateurs just needed a simple one.

Us “locals” as the USGA refers to amateurs, do have one extremely fluid perk. When hitting a ball OB, or following a lost ball, you can drop with a two-stroke penalty instead of walking back to the tee. This of course, is dependent on your course, head professional, tournament conditions, and other factors including and not limited to what phase the moon is in.

If that’s somewhat confusing, read up, ask about your local rules, and buy a few extra sleeves. Reason being, in 2019, the limit on searching for a golf ball has been cut from five to three minutes.

2019-rules-of-golf

But wait, there’s good news.

Thanks to the USGA, if you accidentally move your ball as you frantically high-step through fescue, it’s no longer a penalty! What an exciting 180 seconds that will be!

If you somehow don’t find your golf ball in the hazard penalty area, the USGA tried to help us out, which they did, yet regrettably took away a more iconic portrait on the golf course.

The rigid, stoic stance and forceful drop of a ball at shoulder-height.

And we let it happen.

Now, we’ll watch a defeated man deliberately bend to his knees and gingerly drop his ball…Which, by the way, appears to be a convenient way for cheaters to “take a drop” that ideally doubles as “identifying my first ball”.

Don’t even get me started on the back issues this could flare up.

We heard in late 2018 that Bryson DeChambeau would use the flagstick when the odds were in his favor. He even laid it out simply for us.

“It depends on the COR, the coefficient of restitution of the flagstick.”

Simple.

We didn’t listen Bryson, we didn’t believe. We also have absolutely no clue what you’re talking about.

But hey, as Bryson would say, don’t hate the player, hate the game. Yeah, he’d clearly never say that, but here’s to hoping!

We heard he would do it, but we didn’t believe it. We had to see to believe. What we saw was DeChambeau first in strokes gained putting in the very first round he was allowed to do it.

Obviously, this trend will continue for DeChambeau, and others may join in, because what is golf if not a constant chase for a marginally better opportunity at success.

Watch your back, because those others that may join in could be closer than you think. You may turn around to find a fellow member asking for the flag on their next 12-footer.

It should be a fun year of commentary and confusion at your local club and on the PGA tour. Professionals will have constant questions for rules officials, and commentators will consistently question Bryson’s methods.

There is one real question I hope is answered this April.

What will we do when Bryson banks in a downhill putt at No. 2 of Augusta?

Will we be ready? Will Augusta?

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19th Hole

Tweets of the Week: Justin Rose shows off his Honma clubs, Justin Timberlake does Happy Gilmore and Barack Obama’s new swing

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ho-sung-choi-swing

Over the last seven days, Matt Kuchar brought home the bacon at the Sony Open, while golf fans got a look at plenty of new equipment releases for 2019. But here’s some things you may have missed, and some of the quirkier moments from the world of golf dished out in the Twittersphere in the last week.

Justin Timberlake’s Draw

Ten Grammy Awards, four Emmy Awards, and he can hit a perfect draw Happy Gilmore style. Bit annoying.

Rose Showcases His New Honma Clubs

Still waiting to make his first start of 2019, the World Number 1 is ready to go as a member of Team Honma.

Chez Reavie Goes Bananas

In case you missed it, Chez Reavie became the first player since the PGA Tour began keeping records to make three eagles on three par 4’s in a single round. The fact that he holed out each one from the fairway is quite incredible.

Obama’s New Swing

Barack Obama has had a bit more free time over the past couple of years, since, well you know, he’s not running the country anymore. How do you rate his swing, GolfWRXers?

Double Hit Rule

This video has caused much confusion over the past week on social media. The double hit rule may have changed in 2019, but this attempt is still illegal. Impressive either way you look at it though.

 

 

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19th Hole

Exploring Ireland: Where to golf, drink and stay on the Emerald Isle. Pt. 4. Bearna Golf Club, Galway

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In these series of articles, I will be taking you around the Emerald Isle providing you with great golf courses to visit in some of the loveliest spots in Ireland. I’ll also be highlighting the best and most authentic Irish bars in these spots, as well as places to stay, eat and how to get there. Whether you’re taking a golfing holiday to Ireland in 2019 or are interested in doing so sometime in the future, I’ll make sure to let you in on the best places to spend your time.

In Part Three of our Exploring Ireland Series, we went west and focused on Spanish Point Golf Club in Clare. Now it’s time for Part Four, and we’re staying on the west coast and taking the short trip up to County Galway.

Galway city is famous for its bustling nightlife, and in terms of bars to choose from, there are few better places in Ireland. Whether it’s a quiet night out and a meal, enjoying a few pints with some live traditional music, or a wild all-nighter you’re looking for, Galway certainly has you covered. Conveniently, the city also homes some top golf courses, which makes it a must-visit destination for anyone coming to this island.

Bearna Golf Club, Galway

@kevinmarkham

Galway Golf Club and Galway Bay Golf Resort are usually the two golf courses that people think of when they mention this county. But lurking under the radar is Bearna Golf Club, which will provide you with just as incredible an experience as those two courses, at a lower price.

Located within a 15-minute drive of Galway City, Bearna GC offers an authentic Irish golfing experience. Surrounded by bogland, you can expect your nose to take in all of the scents of Ireland as you navigate your way through the rugged land of humps, gorse bushes and ditches that will give your game a real workout.

@kevinmarkham

Creeks will appear on most fairways, so don’t expect to be able to turn up and grip it and rip it. Bearna is a golf course that is going to make you think, and with the challenges provided, will most likely test your patience as well as your skill.

The track offers five different sets of tees, all of which provide for a fun test. The course ranges between 4,897 yards and 6,271 yards and plays as either a Par 72 or 71 depending on the tees you choose. Thirteen holes feature water, and the one relief that you will find here that is different than other courses in the area is the lack of fairway bunkers.

@IrishGolfPhotos

Robert J. Browne designed the course back in 1996, and as well as the feeling you will have of being amongst nature, you will also have impressive views of the Aran Islands, Galway Bay and the famous Burren.

During the week, 18 holes around Bearna GC will set you back just under $50, while to play on the weekend the rate rises to $75. Don’t be surprised if after your round you want another crack at this deceptive course.

Food & Drink – Tig Coili, Galway

@DBloom451

There is no “best pub in Galway.” The city has an inordinate amount of amazing watering holes to spend your night, and it just comes down to personal taste and what experience you are looking to have for your night. As someone who loves the feel of an old traditional Irish pub though, Tig Coili gets my vote.

@stacy_sobieski

Located in the Latin Quarter of Galway City, this place will often have swarms of people flooding out from the bar onto the street. Traditional music plays here every night, with 14 music sessions each week. The pub prides itself on its music, with pictures of famous musicians that have played here in the past covering the walls.

Also, Tig Coili’s pint of Guinness is renowned for being one of the best in the area, and it’s what 90 percent of folks will be drinking for the night here.

@MeetInGalway

As for food in Galway, it can only be oysters. Described by multiple top chefs as the “best flavoured in the world,” the oysters here come from Galway Bay and are so popular in the city that should you visit here in September you can enjoy Galway’s three day Oyster festival.

You can hop into most bars in Galway serving food and throw back half a dozen oysters, but if you want to experience them for a sit-down meal then go and visit Oscars Seafood Bistro, where the flavour will blow your socks off. An early bird two-course meal of half a dozen oysters and a plate of steaming hot mussels with fries will cost just $20. The perfect drink pairing for oysters? Guinness. Ideal.

Where To Stay

My recommendation is to stay in the center of Galway. We’ve gone traditional in our visits to Donegal and Clare, but for Galway, the city is so alive that you will want to stay right in the heart of it. The Jury’s Inn is a solid option, which will leave you within walking distance of the best bars, restaurants and sights to see in the city. A double room here will set you back in the region of $100 a night.

@WriterVicYates

If you like to shop then visit Quay Street, where you can take in the shops while plenty of buskers on the street entertain you, while the bronze statue of Irish writer Oscar Wilde and Estonian writer Eduard Vilde is an imposing outdoor sight that is a trendy spot for a photo.

@IndoSport

But as we’re sports lovers, then when in Galway do whatever you can to catch a game of hurling. Galway’s hurling side are currently one of the best teams in the land, winning the All-Ireland title in 2017, and they possess some of the most passionate fans. Just try not to mention the last final when you get here.

How to Get There

Galway is about as accessible as it gets from anywhere in the island. You can take the train from any major city in Ireland, and it’ll take you right into the city center of Galway. A direct train from Dublin City will arrive in Galway in just over two hours.

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19th Hole

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