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PGA Tour Players Not Marking Balls when In Position to Assist Another Player, #Backstopping

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7 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

On the other hand, the rules say they can't agree to leave a ball in place that could help either player.  A rules official may remind them to mark a ball that's in position to assist the other player, and if the player objects, the objection can be taken as evidence of an agreement.  To me this is an "unspoken" agreement to circumvent the rules.  Because it's unspoken, it's also unenforceable, unless a rules official makes a point point of doing something at the time.  This particular circumstance seems to be closer to the baseball idea of enforcing the rules...."Get away with anything you can, its legal until someone catches you." Just because it's unenforceable doesn't mean it's within the spirit of the rules.

When I'm playing a tournament, I don't race up to mark my ball every time another player (or players) has a chip after I play mine.  I do it if I'm asked or if time allows, but I don't delay his play just to mark a ball which isn't on his line.  I don't see any reason why this case should be any different just because they are on the Tour.  You are making an unsupported assumption of collusion, while I just see it as playing golf.

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12 minutes ago, Fourputt said:

This is why I get frustrated when so-called "experts" like McCord go off on something like this without knowing what they are talking about.  They give a false impression that marking is a requirement, then guys like the OP take up the baton and run with it, and pretty soon you have a whole string of folks passing on misinformation.  Several years ago Ken Venturi did the same thing (don't remember now what the situation was) and got a bunch of people riled up when Venturi was completely wrong.

I don't agree with that at all. I don't think most people are taking it as a requirement.

I think most people think that this sort of "scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" stuff is in violation of the spirit of the Rules of Golf.

After all, I have seen players hurry to mark their ball when they are playing with someone they don't like, so it's not like it's just done all the time. Players are still human and still make judgment calls, and these judgment calls have nothing to do with the player's ability to hit a golf ball into a hole.

I don't think it's within the spirit of the rules to knowingly leave your ball in a position to help. You're not playing one-on-one match play - you have an obligation to the other 152 players or whatever.

As I was typing that up, @DaveP043 responded similarly:

4 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

On the other hand, the rules say they can't agree to leave a ball in place that could help either player.  A rules official may remind them to mark a ball that's in position to assist the other player, and if the player objects, the objection can be taken as evidence of an agreement.  To me this is an "unspoken" agreement to circumvent the rules.  Because it's unspoken, it's also unenforceable, unless a rules official makes a point point of doing something at the time.  This particular circumstance seems to be closer to the baseball idea of enforcing the rules...."Get away with anything you can, its legal until someone catches you." Just because it's unenforceable doesn't mean it's within the spirit of the rules.

 

Just now, Fourputt said:

When I'm playing a tournament, I don't race up to mark my ball every time another player (or players) has a chip after i play mine.  I do it if I'm asked or if time allows, but I don't delay his play just to mark a ball which isn't on his line.  I don't see any reason why this case should be any different just because they are on the Tour.  You are making an unsupported assumption of collusion, while I just see it as playing golf.

On the PGA Tour they often have the time to mark their ball. At our level, two things are more likely true:

  1. The player far less likely to hit the ball close to the hole. This means a ball is less likely to assist than a ball near the hole on the PGA Tour.
  2. We take less time over shots, giving less time for the FC to mark his ball. On the PGA Tour, they're standing to the side and not even looking at their lie let alone making practice strokes in preparation to play. Even if they're 30 yards away from the other player.

I saw a college player leading a tournament over another look back and request that a ball be marked because the guy in second place had a chip and the ball could have assisted. That player knew the Rules of Golf, and since the guy in his group wasn't going to protect him (or the other players), he did so himself.

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All of which makes sense just in this instance it didn't appear there was any intended benefit to not mark the ball. This seemed fairly clear cut and while it could have happened it seemed unlikely and the discussion about it came with some what if's. McCord spiced it up in the way he called it but it's the way they do everything. If someone misses a fairway and gets anything but a perfect lie they describe it with the horror of someone that just witnessed a plane crash. He's got a bad lie Johnny, he won't be able to spin it. Think of the children!  At times I wish Wayne and Garth were in the booth. Got to protect the field Wayne. Monkeys could fly out of my butt Gary.

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1 minute ago, Dave2512 said:

If someone misses a fairway and gets anything but a perfect lie they describe with the horror of someone that just witnessed a plane crash. He's got a bad lie Johnny, he won't be able to spin it. Think of the children!

It's off topic, but seriously, amen to this.  It's multiple times a week where Peter Kostis (or Gary Koch or McCord or Feherty or Finch) calls a pitch "impossible," and then the result "unbelievable" right after one of the 100 greatest golfers in the universe puts it to 4 feet.  Really Peter?  That surprised you ... again?  Come on.

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17 minutes ago, Golfingdad said:

It's off topic, but seriously, amen to this.  It's multiple times a week where Peter Kostis (or Gary Koch or McCord or Feherty or Finch) calls a pitch "impossible," and then the result "unbelievable" right after one of the 100 greatest golfers in the universe puts it to 4 feet.  Really Peter?  That surprised you ... again?  Come on.

:dance:

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2 hours ago, Fourputt said:

  You are making an unsupported assumption of collusion, while I just see it as playing golf.

12 hours ago, CCC said:

This is not right. Sounds too much like collusion among the playing the partners to me. And, in this case, it was so obvious for everyone to see. Including Gary McCord. Busted. Big Time.

The ball was too close to the hole  - to not mark the ball and pick it up. Again, he just stood around and watched as the other player took his drop from the water (you know how long this can take). Got his read for his chip. And lined up his shot. The whole time the unmarked ball sits there 2-3 feet from the hole. He could have marked, and then picked his ball up and cleaned it, etc.....

My evaluation wasn't unsupported, it was based on the description provided by the original poster.   Its certainly believable that McCord exaggerated things, that's what he's paid to do.  I wonder what the PGA Tour would have said if he explained that the closer player was just doing his fellow-competitor a favor, its not quite right but it happens all the time.  I also wonder whether this kind of "unspoken agreement" was prevalent in McCord's playing days, or whether its a fairly recent thing.

And to go back to the original question.....

15 hours ago, CCC said:

Question: If I'm the player pitching/chipping up to the cup and there is a ball next to the cup (in the way), can I ask him to mark his ball before I make my swing?

Yes you can.  In fact, the rules say you may "have it lifted."  You can not only request, you can demand.

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It would have required more proof than his word in this instance. I doubt anyone would disagree protecting the field is of great importance but there has to be a reason for the concern. Just because a ball isn't marked doesn't mean there's malicious intent. I stream the tournaments at work so I just see bits and pieces, hear more than I see. Watching this the only thing that made me take notice was McCord and I didn't see the same thing he did. It didn't spark a someone stop this guy from walking into traffic urgency.  

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15 minutes ago, Dave2512 said:

Just because a ball isn't marked doesn't mean there's malicious intent.

Yeah, even if somebody was adamant that not marking when they should is considered malicious, there is obviously a grey area.  There's some point where it crosses over to being nothing.  Some combination of distance the ball is from the hole and distance player who hit said ball is from it and how long it will take to go mark it versus how "ready" the next player is.  This is likely why any action against any player about this unspoken "agreement" is impossible to enforce.  Nothing is cut and dried.

From a playing standpoint, if it was 100% about protecting the field, then perhaps a good barometer would be "if this was match play, would I want to mark before my opponent hits?"

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2 hours ago, Dave2512 said:

I'd like to see it again. Now I am wondering.

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).

Wheatcroft and Wagner.jpeg

Edited by Missouri Swede

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2 minutes ago, Missouri Swede said:

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).

Wheatcroft and Wagner.jpeg

In other words, he had plenty of time to go mark his ball.

I'd call foul on that, and I really don't like the "if you scratch my back" approach to how they handle this on the Tour.

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18 minutes ago, iacas said:

I'd call foul on that, and I really don't like the "if you scratch my back" approach to how they handle this on the Tour.

Yeah, it's weird. I never noticed this before, and it surprises me.

I do wonder how this would have gone down in the final group on Sunday...no way he leaves it there.

So when does it stop? What about Saturday afternoon?

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7 minutes ago, iacas said:

In other words, he had plenty of time to go mark his ball.

I'd call foul on that, and I really don't like the "if you scratch my back" approach to how they handle this on the Tour.

1 minute 50 seconds elapsed broadcast time from when Wagner walked up to there until Wheatcroft addressed the ball. Even allowing for some wiggle room for them to show Wagner's earlier pitch to the green and then pick up the live "action," yeah, plenty of time.

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6 minutes ago, Missouri Swede said:

1 minute 50 seconds elapsed broadcast time from when Wagner walked up to there until Wheatcroft addressed the ball.

OK, so this is the part that makes it a little different to the "garden variety" one of these back-scratching scenarios, IMO.  The others I've seen all happen fairly quickly.  That's kind of how they get away with it, IMO ... the one coming up starts their routine and the one who could mark doesn't want or need to disrupt their shot.

This one seems awfully excessive. (My apologies to you, @CCC for suggesting you were wrong about what you saw yesterday) :beer:

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20 hours ago, CCC said:

Buckeyebowmen, It was not a 'stymie'.

The ball was not in the direct line of the shot. But, if he had missed right, he might have made contact with the unmarked ball and used it as a 'back stop'. But he missed left of the hole.
 

That is why the term 'Protecting the field' came up. And I agree.

The player who did not mark his ball, had plenty of time - to mark his ball and pick it up. He just stood and watched the whole time. 10 minutes?

OK. Like I said, I didn't see the telecast. It was also an interesting clarification that a player cannot request that a FC's ball be left ON the green. And I don't know if it's USGA chapter and verse, but I've always thought that a player could ask a FC to mark their ball, whether it's in their line or just a visual distraction. I figure that if you can ask a FC to move their ball marker to one side or the other when near your line, it's just common sense.

Many times when playing a casual round I've had a FC ask if I needed their ball to be marked whether on my side of the hole or the other. If it's not really in my line, I'll usually say no, and almost never if it's on the other side of the hole. It may serve me as an aimpoint. I don't know if this amounts to "conspiracy" or "collusion" in the USGA's opinion, but I don't see it as being any different from a pro getting a "teach" off a FC's putt.

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2 hours ago, Buckeyebowman said:

Many times when playing a casual round I've had a FC ask if I needed their ball to be marked whether on my side of the hole or the other. If it's not really in my line, I'll usually say no, and almost never if it's on the other side of the hole. It may serve me as an aimpoint. I don't know if this amounts to "conspiracy" or "collusion" in the USGA's opinion, but I don't see it as being any different from a pro getting a "teach" off a FC's putt.

It's a penalty to hit another ball if you putt from on the putting green, so that's probably why they're asking.

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7 hours ago, Missouri Swede said:

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).

Wheatcroft and Wagner.jpeg

Gary McCord or no Gary McCord. This is what I'm talking about.

Just look at this. Now, you tell me that you would not ask your FC to mark his ball. And why would you even have to ask?

I just don't get it. There he is standing there ( for what seemed like forever) with his hands on his hips. And neither he nor his caddy are in any hurry to pick up his ball and clean it?

Protecting the Field? How about adding the term 'Playing Slow'.

Like I said, this picture is why I posted my original comment. This picture aggravates me to no end. Are these guys just that clueless about what is so obvious to even the casual observer? So don't give Gary McCord a hard time about his comments about this situation. Or is there something else going on here? But, what do I know?

And is anyone surprised that the chip up to the hole did not hit the ball sitting right next to the cup? Because the chip missed to the left of the hole. Hmmmmm....I wonder why?

Thank you Missouri Swede. This picture is worth a thousand words.

Edited by CCC
Thanked Missouri Swede for the pic.

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