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humblepeasant

Flag Knocked Down by Wind

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Hi! What are the rules for when a flag is lying down on the green (in this case, when it's been knocked down by the wind)? When are you required to pick it up? 

I assume if you are on the green, you have to pick it up or be penalized if your ball comes into contact with it. But what about if you're chipping/pitching? Approach shot? Etc?

It's happened several times lately where I live. I usually just pick it up once I'm putting, but yesterday my chip shot came into contact with the downed flagstick, to my advantage, and so I was wondering what the rule actually is.

Thanks!!

Edited by humblepeasant
typo

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Are you sure it's getting knocked down by the wind? More likely is that someone in front of you has no common courtesy.

If it were me I would have 2 solutions based on 2 situations. If I was riding (cart or buggy) I would drive up and put the pin back in before my approach shot (any shot I am trying to reach the green). If walking, I would walk up to it and put it back from 60 yards and in. If this is competition, then the flag must be in to hit approach. In casual (especially outside of handicap season) play, it's whatever. 

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3 minutes ago, Bonvivant said:

Are you sure it's getting knocked down by the wind? More likely is that someone in front of you has no common courtesy.

I've seen it a few times. Especially with the cheap plastic flag sticks we see on our courses.

Actually remember one where the thing snapped off with the last foot of it still in the hole.

 

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28 minutes ago, Bonvivant said:

If it were me I would have 2 solutions based on 2 situations. If I was riding (cart or buggy)

As this is the Rules of Golf forum, let's keep the answers in that line of thinking.


The answer is that the flagstick is movable obstruction. Thus, if someone carelessly leaves it out, or the wind knocks it out, you can choose to play up to the green with it lying there. If it happened to direct your ball closer to the hole, good for you. There's no penalty and no requirement to replace it at any time, though you can move it at any time.

You cannot specifically put it somewhere to aid you in your play, though, and of course anyone else can move it.

And of course, etiquette says that you should replace it when you're finished with the hole. Failure to do this repeatedly could result in a DQ in a tournament if the Committee decided it was intentional and a serious breach of etiquette. But the next time that occurs will probably be the first, so…

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45 minutes ago, mcanadiens said:

I've seen it a few times. Especially with the cheap plastic flag sticks we see on our courses.

Actually remember one where the thing snapped off with the last foot of it still in the hole.

 

I have never seen it, but I am really new. I know that I haven't seen it all so it's good to hear about this stuff. 

18 minutes ago, iacas said:

As this is the Rules of Golf forum, let's keep the answers in that line of thinking.


The answer is that the flagstick is movable obstruction. Thus, if someone carelessly leaves it out, or the wind knocks it out, you can choose to play up to the green with it lying there. If it happened to direct your ball closer to the hole, good for you. There's no penalty and no requirement to replace it at any time, though you can move it at any time.

You cannot specifically put it somewhere to aid you in your play, though, and of course anyone else can move it.

And of course, etiquette says that you should replace it when you're finished with the hole. Failure to do this repeatedly could result in a DQ in a tournament if the Committee decided it was intentional and a serious breach of etiquette. But the next time that occurs will probably be the first, so…

What if you are putting and the pin is lying perpendicular to your shot, .5 inches from the hole? Movable obstruction and I don't have to move still? I feel like playing with the flagstick out and laying on the green to potentially improve your result is against the spirit of the game. 

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9 minutes ago, Bonvivant said:

What if you are putting and the pin is lying perpendicular to your shot, .5 inches from the hole? Movable obstruction and I don't have to move still?

So long as you didn’t put it there or have it put there, etc., then yup.

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Just now, iacas said:

So long as you didn’t put it there or have it put there, etc., then yup.

That's crazy. Learn something new every day I guess. I will be putting it back in the same way I normally do, but it's good to know that if I play an approach while I'm walking that hits a downed flagstick that I haven't committed a penalty. 

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31 minutes ago, Bonvivant said:

That's crazy. Learn something new every day I guess. I will be putting it back in the same way I normally do, but it's good to know that if I play an approach while I'm walking that hits a downed flagstick that I haven't committed a penalty. 

Think about it… it's quite likely it could hurt you, too, and how could the Rules penalize someone if they play a blind shot toward a green and didn't know the flagstick wasn't in the hole?

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13 minutes ago, iacas said:

Think about it… it's quite likely it could hurt you, too, and how could the Rules penalize someone if they play a blind shot toward a green and didn't know the flagstick wasn't in the hole?

I am not surprised that on approach it is completely legal. But once you are on the green or close it is surprising to me that you can abuse someone else's inconsiderate action to your own advantage. I am not good enough for it to matter really on approach, but from within 25 yards, having a 5 foot wide backstop seems like cheating. 

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Just now, Bonvivant said:

I am not surprised that on approach it is completely legal. But once you are on the green or close it is surprising to me that you can abuse someone else's inconsiderate action to your own advantage. I am not good enough for it to matter really on approach, but from within 25 yards, having a 5 foot wide backstop seems like cheating. 

So here's one way to think through the rules… when you find yourself saying "yeah, but at some point… it crosses that line," and you consider that the line would exist in different places for different people… then you're likely looking at what would, if written, be a shitty rule.

In other words, you might draw the line at 25 yards, but a PGA Tour player might draw the line at 90, or 130 yards, no? So how would you write that rule?

Turns out that most Rules don't have these grey areas. They're pretty black and white. In this case, unless you did something to put it there, or had someone put it there, or other similar acts, you lucked out.

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14 minutes ago, iacas said:

So here's one way to think through the rules… when you find yourself saying "yeah, but at some point… it crosses that line," and you consider that the line would exist in different places for different people… then you're likely looking at what would, if written, be a shitty rule.

In other words, you might draw the line at 25 yards, but a PGA Tour player might draw the line at 90, or 130 yards, no? So how would you write that rule?

Turns out that most Rules don't have these grey areas. They're pretty black and white. In this case, unless you did something to put it there, or had someone put it there, or other similar acts, you lucked out.

Well how I would write it would be that the pin must be in the cup before approaching the green. In a pro event the flag will never be out of the hole on approach, because there are loads of people watching and making sure things are right, so this rule doesn't apply to them at all (barring a pin falling as they are taking their stroke or after).

Another interesting situation would be this: two players get onto the green and player A has the pin backstopping their putt for them, while player B is completely blocked off from the hole by the pin. What would you do in either case of player A or player B being away? Lets assume this is a match play match for 20 bucks a hole against a friend and assume that you are player B. Obviously if you are 3 ft from the hole in 3 but on the wrong side of this stick and they are 30 ft away in 2 but if they hit the stick above the hole it is guaranteed to go in, you've just been completely screwed. If you are away, you get to take away player As advantage because you shot a worse shot (farther from the hole). Either way it feels wrong and cheaty to me.

Imagine its for a Ryder cup win if you really want to have stakes on it.

Edited by Bonvivant

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5 minutes ago, Bonvivant said:

Well how I would write it would be that the pin must be in the cup before approaching the green. In a pro event the flag will never be out of the hole on approach, because there are loads of people watching and making sure things are right, so this rule doesn't apply to them at all (barring a pin falling as they are taking their stroke or after).

Another interesting situation would be this: two players get onto the green and player A has the pin backstopping their putt for them, while player B is completely blocked off from the hole by the pin. What would you do in either case of player A or player B being away? Lets assume this is a match play match for 20 bucks a hole against a friend and assume that you are player B. Obviously if you are 3 ft from the hole in 3 but on the wrong side of this stick and they are 30 ft away in 2 but if they hit the stick above the hole it is guaranteed to go in, you've just been completely screwed. If you are away, you get to take away player As advantage because you shot a worse shot (farther from the hole). Either way it feels wrong and cheaty to me.

Imagine its for a Ryder cup win if you really want to have stakes on it.

The way I'm interpreting it, if anyone wants to move it, they can move it. So whoever it disadvantages will naturally move it, and that'd be that.

So if you have a group, it's probably going to be moved by someone. For my question, it happened to be a solo round.

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6 minutes ago, humblepeasant said:

The way I'm interpreting it, if anyone wants to move it, they can move it. So whoever it disadvantages will naturally move it, and that'd be that.

So if you have a group, it's probably going to be moved by someone. For my question, it happened to be a solo round.

But if you don't want it moved and you are farthest from hole you can leave it, but if you aren't the farthest then you lose the advantage? That's just one issue I have with it. 

Can someone move it before their turn to play?

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1 hour ago, Bonvivant said:

I feel like playing with the flagstick out and laying on the green to potentially improve your result is against the spirit of the game. 

You’d be playing the course as you find it. I fail to see how that’s against the spirit of the game.

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1 minute ago, Bonvivant said:

But if you don't want it moved and you are farthest from hole you can leave it, but if you aren't the farthest then you lose the advantage? That's just one issue I have with it. 

Can someone move it before their turn to play?

I was assuming anyone could move it at any time, but I don't really know anything so I shouldn't be chiming in haha

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1 minute ago, billchao said:

You’d be playing the course as you find it. I fail to see how that’s against the spirit of the game.

You are gaining an advantage against your competitors that is manufactured or unnatural in my mind. 

1 minute ago, humblepeasant said:

I was assuming anyone could move it at any time, but I don't really know anything so I shouldn't be chiming in haha

Me neither. I'm just speculating and voicing my opinion on the rule. 

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2 minutes ago, Bonvivant said:

But if you don't want it moved and you are farthest from hole you can leave it, but if you aren't the farthest then you lose the advantage? That's just one issue I have with it. 

Can someone move it before their turn to play?

The Rules don’t exist to either help, or hurt.  They only exist to tell you how to play the game, and to ensure that identical situations are treated the same way by everyone who encounters them on the course.  There is no fair or unfair....

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Just now, David in FL said:

The Rules don’t exist to either help, or hurt.  They only exist to tell you how to play the game, and to ensure that identical situations are treated the same way by everyone who encounters them on the course.  There is no fair or unfair....

Imagine you are hitting to a blind green and you put it to 3 feet but an opponent puts it to 40, but has a free backstop with a guaranteed make. How is this within the spirit of the game? Is there not a clause saying that you should play within the spirit of the game in the rule book?

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