Weekly Reader Poll

Backstopping is Against the Rules, But Do You Care?

Backstopping: It's something many club golfers do - knowingly or not - and has become more prevalent at the professional level.

Let me guess: You're wondering what 'backstopping' is?

Backstopping is when Golfer A's ball is on the green in close proximity to the hole and is left unmarked while Golfer B - whose ball is near the green - plays and uses Golfer A's ball (which is usually just beyond the hole) as a potential aid or backstop.

Think of a greenside shot you've played which was travelling way too fast and hit a playing partner's ball and stopped much closer to the hole that it otherwise would have; in simple terms, that's backstopping.

But there's only a rules breach if backstopping is done consciously between two golfers.

Under Rule 22-1: "In stroke play, if the Committee determines that competitors have agreed not to lift a ball that might assist any competitor, they are disqualified."

The issue of backstopping is in the spotlight this week after an apparent instance of it on the PGA Tour when South Korean Ben An chipped from just off the green with playing partner John Huh's ball unmarked just beyond the hole.

Enforcement of backstopping at the pro level is all but non-existent and there's no easy solution; what is an appropriate distance for pros to jog onto the green to mark their ball for fear of providing a playing partner an unfair advantage over the rest of the field?

As you can imagine, enforcing backstopping at regular club level would be even more troublesome.

Question: Should penalties for backstopping be properly enforced at club level?
  • Yes
  • No
  • I don't care

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