Backstopping — the controversial (and illegal) practice of leaving one’s ball unmarked on the green as a potential “backstop” for another player’s shot — has become the latest hot topic in the world of professional golf, thanks to a spirited Twitter debate involving six-time Tour winner Jimmy Walker over the weekend.
Walker defended the practice via Twitter, saying, “Usually a guy will ask if he would like to mark it. If you don’t like a guy you will mark anyway. If you like the guy you might leave it to help on a shot. Some guys don’t want to give help at all and rush to mark their ball. To each his own.”
The comments illicited a strong social media reaction. Players who are deemed to be purposefully backstopping are subject to disqualification, per Rule 22-1.
Walker was asked about the Twitter firestorm during Monday’s practice round at Shinnecock.
“It happens all the time where, you chip, you pitch a ball up on the green and you ask the person that’s coming next, if they’re pitching, ‘Do you want me to go mark that?’ That’s just the way it is. It happens,” Walker told Golf Channel. “And a lot of times you leave it in the other player’s hands. ‘Do you want the ball marked?’ I’ve always asked, ‘Do you want it marked?’ I give that person the option. I was just trying to shed some light on how it actually happens out here.”
You can watch a full video of Walker’s comments below.