No penalty in Honda LPGA Thailand for (maybe) using another players ball as backstop.

Hi all.

Is it OK that a ball lies somewhere on the putting green as a “backstop” for another player?

Exactly that question was very relevant in the recent Honda LPGA Thailand, where this happened:

At the 18th hole, Ariya Jutanugarn’s ball ended two feet from the hole. She looked at the other player (Amy Olson) probably to find out, whether it was OK that she (Ariya) holed out… but apparently it was not, since Ariya stepped back – maybe because Amy asked her to.

Amy made a stroke at her ball, and the ball rolled and struck Ariya’s ball. and ended two feet from the hole – had it not been stopped, it would probably have rolled a few yards further away from the hole.

After that they fist bumped as they walked towards the putting green together.

Rule 15.3a states, that you are not allowed to agree to leave a ball in place as a “backstop”:

If two or more players agree to leave a ball in place to help any player, and that player then makes a stroke with the helping ball left in place, each player who made the agreement gets the general penalty (two penalty strokes).

Therefore the turning point was whether Amy and Ariya had agreed to leave Ariya’s ball in place to help Amy – or if if was simply just e.g. Amy that wanted to finish the hole quickly.

LPGA ruled that there was no agreement, and therefore they were not penalized.

Feel free to let us know what you think in the comment section below – see also this discussion from golf. com:



  1. Ricky Stewart says

    Imagine if the ball hit the right hand side of the ball and went further from the hole.

    1. Lord Daniel Hagan says

      Had that been the case nothing would have been said, when I’m taking my shot I don’t like to wait around for people to go and mark thier ball I just want to get on with it, isn’t that what she done?

  2. Bob Lawrence says

    Both players complicit in fraudulent play. Very surprised the field did not complain but then again the majority of players these days do not have the backbone to apply the rules if it may upset their playing partners. A referee should have stepped in the moment he or she could see the scenario unfolding to tell both players of their obligation to the field and that playing the shot would result in both of them getting the general penalty.

  3. Clyde Camp says

    It can be seen that the player’s had agreed to leave the ball in place and the fist pump was just an acknowledgement of thanks. Both should be penalised the two strokes and possible Disqualified if they knew it was against the rules.

  4. Paul Godfrey says

    I think we have to trust golfers and accept this was not a deliberate attempt to use a ‘backstop’.

    1. Lord Daniel Hagan says

      Fully agree with you, mountains out of mole hills

  5. kenneth Wolfe says

    The officials got it right. Amy and Ariya did nothing wrong. THere are too many ignorant haters out there who think they conspired!!

  6. J M Scott says

    What do you think would happen if both players had been 90 / 100 yds away from the green and that had happened I don’t think for a minute the other would have walked up to the green to mark there ball. lets face it she wanted to pitch it in just like all of us.

    1. Steven Noble says

      Rule 15.3a uses the the terminology ‘If a player reasonably believes…’.

      It is probably less reasonable to believe a ball might hit a ball that is close to the hole from 100 yards away than it is for a ball that is just off the putting green to hit a ball that is close to the hole.

  7. brian mckinley says

    I was surprised to learn that in a 4-ball stroke play competition you can’t leave your ball in position to aid your partner (but you can in match play). I believe I know what Bobby Jones would say: I don’t believe either of them conspired to cheat the field. but I would have waited until she marked and lifted her ball

    1. Dagbone says

      At first, I thought you must be wrong about Match play. But then…

      Rule 15.3a: In STROKE PLAY ONLY, if two or more players agree to leave a ball in place to help any player, and that player then makes a stroke with the helping ball left in place, each player who made the agreement gets the general penalty.

      This text would indeed seem to suggest that in Four-Ball MATCH play, such behavior would NOT be considered a breach. Further…

      Rule 23.5a: In STROKE PLAY, partners must not agree with each other to leave a ball in place on the putting green to help either of them or any other player.

      In combination, these two Rules appear to confirm your conclusion that leaving your ball in place to help your partner in Match play is indeed within the Rules. There does not appear to be an Interpretation under either Rule refute this conclusion. So I learned something!

      1. Steven Noble says

        …but you both appear to overlook that under Rule 15.3a a player who reasonably believes that a ball on the putting green might help anyone’s play, the player may require the other player to mark the spot and lift the ball.

        i.e. being match play, the opponents have the opportunity to directly protect their own interests and have the ball lifted.

        1. Alec Moore says

          Absolutely correct Steven. In match play there is no penalty if you use your partners ball as a back stop. BUT, you MUST mark the ball if requested to do so by your opponents.

  8. Dagbone says

    In order to assess the “Agreement” penalty, there must be evidence of the actual agreement.

    In this case, “mind reading by way of wink and nod” is probably not sufficient.

    Since the Committee can’t read minds either, they would be obligated to develop a basis upon which to apply a punitive ruling. I’m quite certain that the Committee in this case would have interviewed both players to assess whether such an agreement was in fact in place. I think we can deduce from the outcome that there was no evidence to prove an Agreement.

  9. mark says

    Penalty for Breach of Rule 15.3: General Penalty.

    This penalty also applies if the player:

    Makes a stroke without waiting for a helping ball or ball-marker to be lifted or moved after becoming aware that another player (1) intended to lift or move it under this Rule or (2) had required someone else to do so, or

  10. Steve says

    it is obvious that none of the people who commented listened to the questioning by the officials of what and why. That type of commenting is why the country is where it is. The officials discussed with both players and came to the proper conclusion.

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