Only two polls this week, and both came with decent amount of discussion.
Backstopping — Who’s protecting the field?
There sure has been a lot of trash talk about the LPGA situation where people think the world is going to end if those players don’t get penalized for aiding and abetting the commitment of a vicious crime of leaving a ball unmarked and trying to take over the field.
I voted for for the second option where it’s on the player about to hit a shot where the other ball is in play close enough to where it can affect your ball in an unfair way when the situation is important enough in that player’s judgement.
Time for an anecdote. I had this come up in the Ray Fischer last year, on the 12th hole where I hit an on purpose snap hook driver to take the out of bounds right out of play. Ben Skogen hit a pitch shot from the fairway to something like 10 feet below the hole. The pin was front, and my only shot was a little punch aimed between the front of the green and the edge of the bunker with the goal of having some sort of easy up and down. Skogen’s ball ended up literally, literally where I was planning to aim. To give him time to mark his ball, I stepped off and took some fake practice swings. He didn’t move. So I started walking towards the green to have another fake look at the shot and he still didn’t move. Finally I had to tell him to go mark his ball cause that’s exactly where I was going to aim.
Pace of play is also an issue with this, and that’s especially relevant considering how much more hate goes to those who aren’t the fastest players. First, I don’t want to force someone who’s ready to hit a shot to have to wait for me to mark something that, no matter how close to the hole the ball is, to have to stand and wait if we’re not in an absolute important situation in a tournament. That’s like a way to take them off their timing. Second, with the amount of negativity slow players are getting and the stupid USGA pace of play checkpoint garbage, I’m not going to force the group to be 30 seconds further behind than needs to be.
This is all situationally dependent of course. I think there was a case at the US Open at Erin Hills where in the final round, someone didn’t mark their ball and Azinger called him out for that. Final round in an important event, yeah, you go mark, and the other player in the group should ensure that as well. On the other hand, in the final round of the 2016 Master, Louis Oostheizen freaking made a hole in one from an unmarked ball! That didn’t protect the field from his XXX place finish, so why didn’t they let whoever hit that first shot take the time to mark his ball? Also, in like the absolute best cases of randomness, it was JB Holmes’ ball that was left and helped Louis’ go in.
Ok now this was an interesting poll, and talk about a dead heat.
My initial thought and my selection was wanting the downhill one as summed up by Zach. Smaller movement means less likely to go awry.
But then, after I replied saying that’s why I agree, KVR brought up really good point about wanting the uphill.
If you try to picture the two cases, you’ll see what he’s talking about. With a ball sitting on the opposite lip of the hole from where you hit the putt, an uphill putt will have the ball wanting to come back to the hole, where a downhill one will want to continue on away from you and the hole.
As is the case with all of these questions, it all depends on your confidence level. If you’re asked to pick, you can take a look at both of the options and go with what you’re feeling then.