Rules Guy: Is backstopping legal in four-ball match play?

Ball on green

Is backstopping wrong in a partner match-play format? Rules Guy has the answer.

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The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

In four-ball match play, are you allowed to deliberately use your partner’s ball as a backstop? It seems wrong, but I can’t seem to find the prohibition against it. —David Sainsbury, via email

That’s because there isn’t a problem in match play, where the players are free to make an agreement along these lines.

That said, if one’s opponents request that a ball on the putting green be marked because they think failure to do so would help your team, the ball must be lifted.

Any agreements made on this front in stroke play would result in the general penalty once a stroke is made with that ball in place.

Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to We promise he won’t throw the book at you.

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