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Sunday
Sep032017

Anything To Play Faster Files: Even Higher-Profile Backstopping

Here's the fun thing about this bizarro trend of men's professional golfers leaving their chip shots around the hole, all in the name of slow play: they are getting more brazen. Even better, this is going to help us bring back the stymie!

The backstopping/sideboarding practice of leaving your ball down--in the name of speeding up play of course--used to be something that only happened in lower profile situations. Increasingly though big name players in big name pairings have been so eager to speed up play, they are willing to not protect the field by leaving their ball in a place that might help their fellow PGA Tour brother competitor. Of course to do so knowingly results in disqualification under the Rules.

And for those who say it doesn't happen, may I refresh your memories here.

This was Saturday with the Spieth-DJ pairing at the 2017 Dell Technologies (link here if the embed doesn't work):

The practice, which only seems to be happening in men's pro golf, is also continuing in Europe. This was Saturday and an all timer given the proximity of the playing partners who just couldn't take that extra 7 seconds to mark their ball.

Here's the bad news: as this strange, buddy-buddy, backscratching practice picks up steam, someone will stand fifteen feet from his ball, watch his ball get hit by another player who then makes par instead of bogey. That player will ends up winning a tournament by a shot or costing someone his card and will be publicly shamed. His reputation might even be ruined. And all for just doing what everyone does every day on the tour because that's how they play the game out there.

And play will still be slow. This practice might be cutting 20-30 seconds a round.

Yet guys will still mark 18 inchers to not step in a through line, but they'll leave their ball down 18 inches from the hole to help out a buddy who might help them later in the round.

I know shining a light on suspect behavior is upsetting for many in a sport where the players are generally the most honest and upstanding in all of sports. But as a clubby sport by nature that values protecting those who have joined the gang, suggests image of those who stick together over good, old-fashioned competition. As a sport, if fans sense the players are just playing week to week hoping for their shot and helping their buddies out at other times, pro golf will ultimately lose a certain edge and purity if a practice like this continues.

Oh, and there is also the "what other rules are they bending" question that is so dangerous to a sport's reputation.

Brandel Chamblee engaged with readers on the topic Saturday after the above incident. The original questioner deleted his question, but it's a nice mix of those who see this for what it is (some bizarre tacit agreement that has festered) and those who believe the guys just are trying to speed things up.

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Reader Comments (17)

Man, do they think we are all idiots? If they actually wanted to speed up play I'm sure all of us here could come up with many, many better ways to accomplish that. Such b.s.
09.3.2017 | Unregistered CommenterWJ
Totally agree with the above comment. There were a couple of examples yeateray on the 4th hole in Boston. The other players no more than 20 ft from their balls.
09.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterRob S
Have noticed it going on for years. When I asked someone in "authority" why it was not been addressed, the reply was, " that sort of thing doesn't go on". What chance has the humble referee, when those on the main tours do not have the courage to challenge the pros?
09.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBob Lawrence
Very fantastic
09.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPriyanshu Sharma
Needs to be addressed. What if a player "helps" one competitor, but not another? Perception of unfair competition is just as damaging as actual situation.
Does this happen on the Ladies Tour or the Geezer Tour or the Web.com Tour, where purses are not as large?
Not this again...lol...nobody , but hard core golf nerds even remotely cares about this...or how far the ball goes.
09.4.2017 | Unregistered Commentermarmooskapaul
Paul,

Agreed. The millions of casual golf fans reading this blog don't care about any of this stuff.
So apparently Leishman is a hell of a guy or a real big fan of speeding up play as here he is battling for the biggest title of his career but he stills leaves his ball for Thomas' pitch shot.
09.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGriffin
Leishman still lets it go even battling for a title on Sunday.
09.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGriffin
I care about this. It's dirty. I'd love to see two players DQ'd for this. It would never happen again.
09.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGinGHIN
cops don't give cops tickets. In watching toom much golf, I only see a ball hit another ball a couple times a year, and that id from the fairway.

MAAN..... much ado......

dig
09.4.2017 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Digs - so it's ok to break the rule? Can't agree.
09.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGinGHIN
Breaking the rules. It's one thing when you're 30 yards away. I've seen times when a guy has a minute to mark his ball while his fellow competitor checks his lie, changes clubs, etc. And he still doesn't do it.

DQ a few and it'll stop pretty quickly, I think.
09.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski
Love the comments from the weekend hacks who somehow equate their rounds of golf (which include mulligans, gimme's, preferred lies, free drops off rocks, etc....) to a PGA professional playing for millions of dollars. No one cares what you decide to do in your foursome Brenden Nolan and Hunter Brown. And digsouth, are you reviewing tapes from the European, Web.com, and other tours? Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it isn't happening. I just saw it happen last week.
09.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterKPK
I initially thought you were overselling this Geoff but then I've seen it happening so often of late and got to thinking that it's actually the kind of thing, along with being told incessantly how much all these guys like each other, that leads to us finding out something more scandalous the guys were all hiding. I doubt it, but it's just such a strange and unnecessary practice.
09.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterOB
I watched (in person) DJ mark a ball on #4 in Boston yesterday that could have served as a backstop for Rahm who was preparing to come out of the bunker.

Do they selectively mark?

Rahm airmailed the green but made birdie on his come-backer flop shot from the cabbage. These guys are good.
09.5.2017 | Unregistered Commentergoing low
Since speeding up play is seldom given much thought on tour, this is likely a nudge-nudge, wink-wink happening.

In a considerably less prize money setting, unless a player requests, I'm not going to exert extra energy.
09.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterFC

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