Saturday, 18 August 2012

Using a Ball as a Backstop


















I received a question this week asking if you may leave a ball in place as a ‘backstop’ when making a stroke from just off the putting green. This is an issue for many players and I will attempt to clarify the various situations here, using different scenarios, most of which are covered by Rule 22, Ball Assisting or Interfering with Play.

In all the scenarios below B’s ball lies just to the side of the hole in a position where it could act as a ‘backstop’ for A’s next stroke (as in the photo).

In stroke play, where no comment has been made by any player in the group about the position of B’s ball:

a)    A plays his ball from just off the putting green. There is no penalty whether or not A’s ball moves B’s ball. B’s ball must be replaced if it is moved.
b)    A putts from on the putting green. A incurs a penalty of two strokes if his ball moves B’s ball (Rule 19-5). B’s ball must be replaced.
In match play, where no comment has been made by any player in the group about the position of B’s ball:
c)    A plays his ball from just off the putting green. There is no penalty whether or not A’s ball moves B’s ball. B’s ball must be replaced if it is moved.
d)    A putts from on the putting green. There is no penalty whether or not A’s ball moves B’s ball. B’s ball must be replaced if it is moved. (Rule 19-5).
Note that in the above scenarios the ruling is the same whether A and B are partners (four-balls or foursomes) or fellow competitors (singles). 
e)    In stroke play, if A requests B to leave his ball where it is and B complies, or if B gives any indication to A that he will leave his ball where it is so as to assist A, both players are disqualified. Decision 22-6;
Q. In stroke play, B's ball lies just off the putting green. A's ball lies near the hole in a position to serve as a backstop for B's ball. B requests A not to lift his ball. Is such a request proper?
A. No. If A and B agree not to lift a ball that might assist B, both players are disqualified under Rule 22-1.
The disqualification penalty applies if the Committee determines that competitors have agreed not to lift a ball that might assist any competitor.
f)    In match play, where there is no requirement to protect the interests of other competitors, it is up to the opponent(s) to request that the ball is lifted and so there is no penalty if partners agree to leave a ball as a backstop.
With regard to scenarios a) to d) above, except when a ball is in motion, if a player considers that a ball might assist any other player, he may lift the ball if it is his ball, or have any other ball lifted, Rule 22-1. In my opinion, it is incumbent on a fellow competitor to require that a ball is lifted if it could be of advantage to any other player in the group who is playing from on the putting green, or close to it.

Some readers may be questioning why no penalty is incurred in scenario d) above, as this is a little known part of match play Rules. Rule 19-5a states;

If a player’s ball in motion after a stroke is deflected or stopped by a ball in play and at rest, the player must play his ball as it lies. In match play, there is no penalty. In stroke play, there is no penalty, unless both balls lay on the putting green prior to the stroke, in which case the player incurs a penalty of two strokes.
Good golfing,



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The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2012 and may not be copied without permission.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Barry, your discussion about 19-5 is an opportunity to talk about the stymie, which doesn't exist now.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

I have a policy of only commenting on the Rules of Golf as they are now. Other sites deal with the history of the Rules, e.g. www.ruleshistory.com/.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Barry what is the senario in AM AM team events where 4 players play in one team can 3 players leave there balls near the hole while the 4th member puts from on the green
Regards Martin

Barry Rhodes said...

Martin,

A team competition such as you describe is not a format recognised by the Rules of Golf. However, in the absence of any relevant Condition of Competition, I suggest that this part of Rule 19-5 is relevant;

In stroke play, there is no penalty, unless both balls lay on the putting green prior to the stroke, in which case ,the player incurs a penalty of two strokes.

Barry

Anonymous said...

22/5 and 22/6 in the case of Match Play ONLY

A is on the green in a position to be a backstop for B who is off the green.
Before A gets to the green, B requests that A leaves their ball where it is.

1. Is B allowed to make this request without penalty?
2. Does A have to comply with B's request? Or is the answer similar to 20-1/11
3. If A does not comply with B's request is there any penalty?


22/5 states that B was not in breach of the rules for having asked. It also states that the Rules do not require that A replace the ball that was already lifted. BUT it does not cover the point about whether B can request A not to lift the ball in the first place.

22/6 only refers to Stroke Play

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Here are my answers to your three questions, all of which apply to match play situations;

1. Is B allowed to make this request without penalty?
Yes, there is no Rule that stops B from asking. This is clear from Decision 22/5.

2. Does A have to comply with B's request? Or is the answer similar to 20-1/11?
No A does not have to comply with B's request. Again, this is clear from Decision 22/5.

3. If A does not comply with B's request is there any penalty?
No, because A does not have to comply with B's request under the Rules no penalty is incurred.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I was in a pairs competition recently where I asked one of my opponents to mark a ball that would act as a backstop for his partner who was just off the green.

The player mentioned that he did not want it moved and stated that "it may be a useful backstop and as he was off the green there would not be penalty".

I thought there would be a penalty, but for who? I let it stand as I wasn't sure.

I've often wondered who was right though and to confuse the issue, although we were playing match play, it was in a league format where the overall holes won/lost score counted - so there was also an interest to protect other players.

Regards

TJA

Barry Rhodes said...

TJA,

Part of Rule 22-1 states;

Except when a ball is in motion, if a player considers that a ball might assist any other player, he may: ...
... b. Have any other ball lifted.


So, in match play. if an opponent refuses to lift a ball when requested to do so, the side that made the request should make a claim, following the procedure set out in Rule 2-5, and then play out the hole. The subsequent ruling from the Committee should be that the opponents lost the hole for refusing to lift a ball when requested.

Barry

globallycool said...

Could you clarify further ?

In a typical team game 2 best balls of four against 7 other foursomes....

Would it be legal for the group to play as follows:

Making NO COMMENT

Tending NOT to rush up to mark a ball if it is obvious that that ball could be used to group advantage.

Marking only when asked by an off the green player ?

Barry Rhodes said...

Globallycool,

I am sure that you know that the Rules of Golf do not cover a team of four format. I am sure that you also know that golf is a game of integrity. In my opinion, a Committee would be justified in disqualifying a team that was purposely leaving a ball on the putting green to gain a potential advantage over the other teams, under Rule 1-3.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Barry
In stroke play I was about to chip on to the green. Another player Sven had already chipped up and his ball was about 6 ft from the pin. It was not interfering with my shot nor assisting me. However just as I was about to play, Sven quickly walked up onto the green and said "I will mark my ball and get it out of your way". I replied that it was not in my way and he did not need to mark it. I hate being interrupted just as I am about to play, as it puts me off. However another in our group, Jack, then said I was in breech of Rule 22-1 as I cant ask Sven to leave his ball just in case it assisted me. It was not as if Sven's ball was close to the hole nor likely to act as a back stop for me. I just wanted to play my shot without being interrupted.
What do you think?

Leo

Barry Rhodes said...

Leo,

Sven was completely within his rights to mark his ball before you could take your putt, Rule 22-1a. Obviously, you could have made a bad chip and his ball could have slowed or stopped your ball. You did not breach the Rule, as there was obviously no agreement made not to lift his ball, but had he left his ball in position after your request, then both of you may have been subject to disqualification, though in the circumstance that yoiu describe it is unlikely that a Committee would have done so.

Personally, I think that it is better for all balls to be marked and lifted from the putting green before another player chips or putts to the hole. It does not usually waste any time, because it gives the player an opportunity to clean their ball while the other chip or putt is being made.

Barry

Anonymous said...

I had this scenario, nearly the exact position of Ball b and I told the player I was going to mark my partners ball, he was still in the bunker raking the sand.He blew up at me.He said there was no need as he was off the green.He missed his putt by 6 feet and missed the one coming back, he screamed at me on the T of the next hole.He plays off 4 and should know better.