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Video: What A Bank Shot Ball Looks Like And Why The Practice Needs To Stop

The best part about the PGA Tour Twitter account fiercely targeting the 4th grade demo?

Posting videos that actually expose an underlying tour cancer! Yay golf! 😍😎♨️💯

Of course I speak of the peculiar unwritten tour rule that says if you hit a short game shot near the hole and your ball might help a playing partner, you leave the ball down instead of marking. We've spoken to this on ShackHouse and State of the Game, but it's rare to get examples shared on social media.

I don't like picking on this one involving Zach Johnson at the API because the kneejerk reaction is to focus on the players in on case when this goes on daily. Here Ben An, whose ball provided the back board for Johnson, is providing a service that I struggling seeing Hale Irwin, Lanny Wadkins or Ray Floyd providing.


In this case, Johnson's ball in the bunker was plugged. He and An were stinking it up and apparently a little behind the group in front (imagine that!), so it's very possible this was all innocent.

What's more important: leave the names behind and focus on why the practice has to stop.

When players get to use their playing partners' ball as a backstop or bank board, fields are not protected. Integrity is thrown out the window. And most disconcerting of all, players who do not partake in such wink-wink behavior are said to be jerks by players and caddies.

Did I also mention is just feels dirty?

There is good news, however. The practice gets the week off at Austin's WGC Dell Match Play where you'll see players running to mark those balls near the hole!

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Reader Comments (41)

Either play the stymie or mark it.
03.19.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPasaplayer
The old boys network never dies. I just find this odd when it happens because these guys are independent contractors and shouldn't want to help their opponents. I also do wonder what happens when a player doesn't partake? Is he Patrick Reed, a villain amongst white belt wearing men?
03.19.2017 | Unregistered CommenterOB
What the hell is all the fuss about, slow the game down more
03.19.2017 | Unregistered CommenterLarry
yea right.

(apply where needed)

smilingly knowing,

03.19.2017 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
I dont see this changing when the new comish says 4.45 rounds are ok.
03.19.2017 | Unregistered Commentermark
I don't get it. You mean, that players can't hole out a bunker shot on a regular basis, but they are able to take help from a ball (smaller than the hole) and hit that on purpose?
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterExilgolfer
@Exilgolfer, my thoughts exactly. And the ball is just as likely to deflect away from the hole as it is to deflect towards it. Has anyone ever seen it being practiced on a short, makeable chip shot?
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
The point is whether it goes in or not, it slows the travelling ball down. That’s why they always help each other when there is a downhill chip and water behind.

Geoffs right, it’s collusion to defeat the law and spirit of the game. As they ‘all’ do it, they are playing to a different set of rules.

Rules need to applied or rewritten. I dont think there's anything in the new rules to say you can request another palyer to leave his ball where it might help you.
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBelowpar
This is a joke...right?? Now we can wait for every shot from say...???170 be marked, before the next player can hit his shot.

It's a joke...right?
03.20.2017 | Unregistered Commentermarmooskapaul
@marmooskapaul, agree. These guys are good, but they ain't that good. That was just luck.
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPops
Like many have said, it's not about playing the carom to go in, it's leaving a possible backstop in case you cook it. The other guy takes no loss, so there is no incentive for him to mark it.

What I am curious though, is what rule gets changed to what? My first thought was you don't replace your ball, but at what distance does this no longer apply? (ie., if a guy's ball gets knocked away from the other guy's chip is one thing, but what about a shot from the fairway from 180 yds?) Can you say you must mark or finish before the guy chips?

Can of worms, can of worms...
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPat(another one)
Would like to see some stats on the frequency of bank shots. Where do you draw the line on marking a ball near the hole to prevent this 20 yards, 50 yards...
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterConvert
You guy are going to flip out on April First.

You are being tooled.

Sorry Geoff, I could smell brains roasting,

03.20.2017 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
I'm with GS on this one. If the other ball was halfway to the hole you can be sure Zach would have asked him to mark it. It's cheating.
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGinGHIN
Not just yet Digger.
There's a grain of truth to what Geoff has posted....just not nearly the amount of "collusion" he's inferring.

I'm surprised An didn't mark his ball in this case since it was short of the hole and blocking Zach's line a skoosh....those are always marked. If you didn't do it repeatedly, you'd be considered a dick. If the ball is behind the was rarely if ever marked. That's what I learned in my 3rd or 4th round ever as a pro many moons ago.

I think it has to do with playing for money because I never saw this practice playing amateur golf. It's not breaking any rule (at moment) so what's the BFD? Caddies lining up players is a much worse "spirit of the rules" infraction imo.
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohnnnycz
>> That's what I learned in my 3rd or 4th round ever as a pro many moons ago.

@johnnycz, could you explain further how you came to acquire this knowledge?
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
One you start looking for it you see players leaving backstop balls all the time.

If you'd mark it in match play, mark it in stroke.

We count on people to play by the rules in society. Or we used to.
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterDon
The rules of golf are what they are.
The above is not a "practice". It is a rule.
These blokes are playing within the rules.
The above is making the "participants" sound like cheats.They are not.
They are playing by the rules.
Nothing more - nothing less.
03.20.2017 | Unregistered Commentermetro18
Send 'em to:

The United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth (USP Leavenworth) is a medium-security United States federal prison for male inmates in Kansas. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice.

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

Johnnycz says above that by his 3rd or 4th round as a playing professional he had learned that "If the ball is behind the was rarely if ever marked" which sounds, to me, like the "practice" is that players have an implicit agreement to leave balls in place.
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
I lift my ball if the following conditions apply:

1. My playing partners ask me to.
2. It's directly in the line of someone's shot.
3. Mudball

Otherwise, just putt the damn thing. Golf is too slow already with everyone marking every putt.

Just what we need...more grey areas in the rule book.
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterManku
I only have access to BBC golf coverage, now down to 2 to 3 highlight packages a year, I have never seen a clip like this before, from professionals in stroke play, when all players are in the vicinity of the green.

My understanding is that you cannot ask your fellow competitor to leave his ball and you cannot play on if he is intending to mark his ball.

What happens far more often at amateur competition level is deliberate lollygagging, which happens when both of you are scoring well, he has played first and his ball has ended up in the vicinity of your line of play. As there are no caddies there is a ready made need to relocate clubs to the next tee and this can take some time especially if combined with other faffing and foutering around.
I saw this happen last night on SportsCenter and was hoping it would be addressed further so thank you Geoff for catching it. For those who think this is no big deal I completely disagree, and I'm pretty sure if you asked tour pros who played maybe 20 years ago they would tell you the same. A couple of TV commentators commented on the practice last year and clearly said it was wrong and it was becoming more prevalent. If you pay attention to this, as a poster alluded to above, you see it as a common occurrence. As Johnny mentioned it's all about being a bad guy and no one wants to be the modern day Marco Dawson and call people out. The exaggeration of guys now telling their playing partners to mark it when they're 150 yards out is ridiculous; no one is saying that. Don hit the nail on the head when he said if they were playing match play, in say the Ryder Cup, there's not a chance in hell that ball, or any other ball around the hole, wouldn't be marked.
03.20.2017 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
+1 Carl. Waiting anxiously for Johnnycz's response.

Competitive juniors already understand this "practice". You play with a buddy in an AJGA event, you don't mark. If a guy you dislike, you mark. My son and I have discussed how prevalent this is.
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGinGHIN
I agree with Geoff in the general, but not necessarily the specific. On the one hand, anything that speeds up play is a good thing. On the other, the common practice of chipping up when there is a ball right behind the hole is pretty obviously cheating and it seems clear tour players are doing it as a wink and nod to each other. That said, Zach's reaction here was that he hit a bad shot and he knew it and got lucky. I'm not even sure the ball was the intended line of play.
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterThe O
Let me ask all of you this: How many times have you EVER sen this ''practice'' actually result in a ball hitting another ball? If it is more than twice, you are watching too much golf.

I am not talking qbout from the fairway, I am talking about putts and chips, pitches....

I still call BS, sorry J/3n's, eh?

BTW- I get it- to stop non stopping possibilities- not to bank it in the hole. It is just not that big a deal.

I thought Kansas WAS/IS the prison, and unleavened- worthy was/is the safe haven.

# Kansas is a state of mind no one wants

03.20.2017 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
People who want to be outraged always find a reason to be outraged
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C.
GinGHIN, People who play competitive golf, or have played competitive golf, or aren't oblivious to an abusive practice, obviously understand what's going on, "others" have no clue so probably shouldn't comment. Sorry Digs, fourth flight of the husband-wife championship doesn't count.
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMelvyn's niblick
The test really is simple, if behaviour changes the week of the matchplay event then the rule cited by Carl is being consistently broken at the stroke play events.
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterObvious/Oblivious
This happens all too often on the PGA Tour. It's not a matter of being outraged. There have been instances where a player from just off the green took nearly two minutes to play a shot while the other player nearby, with his ball only a foot or two from the hole, stood there the whole time.

Here's the description: "Here's a screenshot of the broadcast. Wheatcroft has dropped (twice and then placed) his ball out of the hazard and is getting ready to hit (bottom of the pic). Wagner's ball is to the right and a little short of the pin; Wagner is looking on (right side of the pic)."

Here's the image:

It's against the letter AND spirit of the Rules of Golf.

Geoff's not the first and won't be the last to notice. The practice irks, because again it's against the spirit and letter of the law.
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski
I guess Louis Oosthuizen's ace at hole 16 at last year's Masters is another example of a bank shot that should've been frowned upon.

Actually, the bank shots off of corporate suite structures are the most silly outs there is in pro golf.... rewards really bad shots.
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohn C - That's a working URL for the image (just the image). The other was cut off. Sorry.
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski
@ Carl P. I stand corrected
03.20.2017 | Unregistered Commentermetro18
This is just stupid. I knew this would be a topic today.

If everybody does it, as the allegation goes, all evens out!

So what's the problem?
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterShivas
Well said Eric. Amazing comments from some which really have nothing to do with what was said by Geoff in the article posted. I now see the problem in the political arena: No one actually takes the time to read the story, they read headlines.
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterKPK
Gimme a break! These guys were going through the motions, the quicker they finish, the quicker they get the hell out of there.Despite the birdie, Johnson shot 76 and finished in a tie for 66th place. If either had been in contention, of course the ball would have been marked!
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Norrie
@Shivas, "everyone" uses (what you call) the cheater line.
03.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
Ol Harv, what I was asking is, at what distance do you impose a "you must mark your ball" rule? 20 yards? Why not 30? Why not.... you see how this ends up. Where do you draw the arbitrary line? If you say greenside, what about a green where there is one bunker next to the green, and looking back to the tee, another one just beyond it(ie. if you're in the first bunker, you need to play over the second bunker to reach the green). Is that greenside? While I'm pretty certain your characterization as "ridiculous" is really just a deflection to hide you really don't have anything constructive to add to it, i'll give you the opportunity: What would your rule look like?
03.21.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPat(another one)
Wow..went offline for a bit and my comment piqued some interest.

@Carl: No one told me was something I observed. Like an unsaid code. Noticed that when I'd ask to mark my ball after a chip and guy would say "'s ok" usually if it was past hole for him...and have me mark it if it was short.
03.21.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohnnnycz
Thanks for the reply. I'm glad that you weren't brought in for the Super-Top-Sekrit [sic] Orientation in which they indoctrinated you in the nefarious ways of the cabal.
03.21.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson

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