Backstopping Sparks Controversy On LPGA TOUR

Justin B. News, Players Leave a Comment

On the PGA TOUR, much of the talk this year has been about the controversial drop rule change that requires players to drop from a higher level than previously. On the LPGA Tour, however, the main issue that was brought to light this week is backstopping.

For those who don’t know what backstopping is, the basic definition is one player not marking their ball on the green in order to create a “backstop” for another player’s shot.

Backstopping took center stage this past week at the Honda LPGA Thailand event. LPGA player Amy Olson was playing with the top women’s golfer in the world, Ariya Jutanugarn and video appears to catch these two players intentionally using a backstopping strategy. Jutanugarn hit a chip close to the hole for a tap in but decided not to mark her ball. Olson then hit her chip, hitting Jutanugarn’s ball, and using it as a backstop to roll only a few feet from the hole.

According to the rules of golf, the practice of backstopping is illegal but it is rarely enforced. Technically, whoever participates in this practice is intended to be given a two-stroke penalty.  Jimmy Walker said this is something that happens on the PGA TOUR as well, especially if a player’s like each other and want to help out on a shot.

The LPGA concluded Olson and Jutanugarn didn’t backstop but Olson defended herself, stating that “We had waited on 18th tee, for 10 minutes in 18th fairway and Michelle [Wie] was waiting for a ruling,” Olson said. “To help pace of play, Ariya and I went before Michelle even though she was out. Ariya’s ball was not in my intended line and to help move things along, I told her it was fine. I had never even heard of the back-stopping issue as I don’t really watch PGA golf that much and it hasn’t been an issue on the LPGA. My intention was to help pace of play.”

Regardless of her intentions, Olson just opened a whole can of worms with one simple golf shot. With how much attention this has gotten, it will be interesting to see if any of golf’s major tours start cracking down on backstopping and if players are more conscious of the rule moving forward.

You be the judge…was this intentional backstopping, or was the fist bump simply a recognition of some silly dumb luck between two players?

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