What Is a 'Come-Backer' in Golf?

No, a "come-backer" is not a golfer who comes back (comes from behind) to win a tournament. A come-backer is the putt you have left after running your previous putt past the hole. Note that come-backer is often spelled as one word (comebacker) or, less often, two (come backer).

Let's say you have a 14-foot putt for birdie. Your golf ball misses the hole and rolls on by, coming to a stop two feet past the hole. What do you have now? You have a 2-foot come-backer. Since you putted past the hole, you now have to come back to the hole you missed the first time.

The term "come-backer" is neutral: A come-backer is neither good nor bad, it's just the putt you are now required to stroke if you ran the preceding putt past the hole. Now, if you run your ball a long way past the hole, that's bad. A 15-foot come-backer is not something any golfer wants, and it indicates you got the speed of your first putt badly wrong. But the term "come-backer" itself doesn't imply anything about the quality of your first putt, except that, at minimum, you didn't leave that first putt short.

Many golfers like to stand directly on the line of putt as their ball passes by the hole so that they can watch the line the ball takes before coming to a stop. That gives them a first look at any break they'll be facing on the come-backer.

Also note that the path the ball travels on the way past the hole, before it comes to a stop, is called the "through line."

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