Backstopping rears its ugly head on the LPGA Tour

If this wasn’t the practice of backstopping, then what is?

Backstopping in golf is the act of leaving your golf ball near the hole so that your playing partner has a slight advantage for their next shot with the possibility of hitting that it and finishing closer to the hole.

See UPDATE press release from the LPGA below.

After the reaction to Jimmy Walker’s comments on the matter last year, you would have thought that was the end of it.

But it has been brought to the fore after this incident was shared around on Twitter.

The video shows golfers Amy Olson and Ariya Jutanugarn playing chip shots to the 18th green during the second round of the Honda LPGA Thailand.

Jutanugarn plays first and appears to go to mark her golf ball before backing up to let Olson play her shot.

You probably know what happened next… Olson’s chip shot hit Jutanugarn’s golf ball. But their reaction to the result is the most staggering. Both players fist bump and smile.

Occasionally it’s just not feasible to get to the hole in time before another golfer plays a golf shot. But there really isn’t any excuse here.

Perhaps the strangest part of all this was that initially the LPGA Tour tweeted the video signifying the moment and the smiles between the two players. It was deleted a short time after it was pointed out that penalties should be applied.

Unfortunately it’s against the rules to play a part in the practice of backstopping, specifically a breach for Rule 15.3/1 which says:

Rule 15.3/1
In stroke play, under Rule 15.3a, if two or more players agree to leave a ball in place on the putting green to help any player, and the stroke is made with  the helping ball left in place, each player who made the agreement gets two penalty strokes. A breach of Rule 15.3a does not depend on whether the players know that such an agreement is not allowed.

For example, in stroke play, before playing from just off the putting green, a player asks another player to leave his or her ball that is near the hole, in order to use it as a backstop. Without knowing this is not allowed, the other player agrees to leave his or her ball by the hole to help the other player. Once the stroke is made with the ball in place, both players get the penalty under Rule 15.3a.

The same outcome would apply if the player whose ball was near the hole offered to leave the ball in play to help the other player, and the other player accepted the offer and then played.

If the players know that they are not allowed to make such an agreement, but still do it, they are both disqualified under Rule 1.3b(1) for deliberately ignoring Rule 15.3a.

My take on this is that both players didn’t this is a breach of the rules and reallty haven’t considered it as n issue in pritesting the field. Whcih will rule out a DQ for intentionally breaking the rules.

But this is no excuse. And a two-stroke penalty should apply.

UPDATE: The LPGA have released a statement clearing both golfers of any wrong doing. Remarkable.

3 thoughts on “Backstopping rears its ugly head on the LPGA Tour

  • February 24, 2019 at 00:24
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    Watching the video, there’s no evidence that there was agreement between the players that would constitute a breach of rule 15.3. However, the players should be conscious that this is not matchplay, it’s strokeplay and they are competing against 68 other golfers who aren’t getting the same ‘advantage’. So their celebration was misplaced.

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    • February 28, 2019 at 02:25
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      OMG. If the ball went the other way this would not be in question or if leader did it .

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  • March 2, 2019 at 02:21
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    Rule 15.3a, if two or more players agree to leave a ball in place (on the putting green) to help any player, and the stroke is made with the helping ball left in place, to leave a ball in place (on the putting green) to help any player also on the putting green is known by all golfers. not chipping from 10-20 yds. out unless it blocks the path to the hole. YES it was lucky just like hitting the flag stick, she should of been jumping for joy if it was to put her in the leaders spot. Fist bump luck shot.

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