I believe we briefly discussed your point prior. IF not, I must of dreamed it. However, the advantage or disadvantage of the flagstick being in is available for all players.
Ask your USGA friend if they are thinking of dropping the 5 minute ball search to 3 minutes.
All the best.
Flagsticks are made of different materials, and there aren't even rules about how thick the flagstick can be. You can literally make a flagstick 4" in diameter and it would be perfectly legal.
So why should one course have thicker, possibly "bouncier" flagsticks while another course does not? Right now this only matters if you hit the flagstick from far enough out that you didn't want to remove it. A 4.25" hole, on the other hand, basically behaves the same each time.
Leaving the flagstick in (current flagsticks), overall, provides a pretty good advantage. Balls are more likely to go in or stay close to the hole.
Leaving the flagstick in lets you smash a testy three-footer and be comforted by the fact that it's far more likely to go in.
Well, there will be changes. The changes wont be so drastic as to change the essense of the game. This is why I believe the Flagstick rule will be changed. For the amateur player, who cares if the flagstick is struck while putting. For the elite level, I can see that it wont change much since they have caddies that take care of the flagstick.
SO again, changing this rule will not impact the essence of the game.
Finally. I've personally heard this more than once and now someone who was at St-Andrews heard it first hand from some committee members . I don't see what there is to gain by saying this if there arent any rumblings about it.