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iacas

Leave the Flagstick In (and Tend it Too)

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http://www.golf.com/instruction/flag-or-out

http://www.grouchygolf.com/2004/09/golfers-leave-that-flag-in.html

Notice the first comment on the latter link above… ;-)


This will be a quick one.

When hitting a shot from off the green, leave the flagstick in.

It's really that simple. Unless the flagstick is leaning so far toward you (the Rules of Golf allow you to re-center a flagstick that's leaning because it wasn't put back in properly) that a golf ball will not fit, it can only help you. A ball that's rolling so fast it hits the flag and doesn't go in had NO chance of going in without the flag. The flagstick can only take speed off the golf ball, either letting it fall in or keeping it closer to the hole.

And, second:

If you're outside of 25 feet or so, consider having the flagstick tended when you putt.

People are shy to have the flagstick tended when they putt, but having a person stand there not only helps you aim (though you cannot ask them to stand somewhere in particular - if they happen to stand where you're aiming, it may be helpful to you), but it also helps you with your depth perception and thus helps you with your speed.


That's it. Two tips that should help you. I've literally told my golf team members that if I see them playing a shot from off the green with the flagstick out, they strongly run the risk of sitting out the next round because it's just stupid to do otherwise. It's a free way to occasionally save strokes.

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1 hour ago, iacas said:

 

This is a tad harsh. :-P  The next time I see a pro hit a putt from 20' that is going so fast that it goes over the center of the hole and doesn't fall in will probably be the first.

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3 minutes ago, Golfingdad said:

This is a tad harsh. :-P  The next time I see a pro hit a putt from 20' that is going so fast that it goes over the center of the hole and doesn't fall in will probably be the first.

No it's not. A ball that is going three feet past the hole and will lip out will still benefit from the flagstick being in.

Plus, he had to make it to win, so he was probably going to get it to the hole. And failing that, he had to make the next putt to get into a playoff, so even if it sat 1' away from the hole instead of 4' with his "make it" speed, he benefits there as well.

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Phil says hi (having Bones tend his approach shot)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqKweki8Sxc

 

In his case the theory was that he didn't want to hit the flag on the fly and spin it back in the hole; but in reality he had a better chance the flag would stop the ball if it hit short or if it was rolling too fast coming back.
I give him an A for the flair, but a D for the logic.

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34 minutes ago, iacas said:

No it's not.

I'm not saying you are wrong, I'm just saying that the chance of it not being there hurting him is so minimal that you could have made the point without calling him dumb.  That's all.

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1 minute ago, Golfingdad said:

I'm not saying you are wrong, I'm just saying that the chance of it not being there hurting him is so minimal that you could have made the point without calling him dumb.  That's all.

He was being dumb there.

Always leave it in. There's only one circumstance when it's smart to take it out, and that wasn't it. If he could increase his chances 1% why not do it? He willingly gave up an advantage. That's "dumb."

Was his decision earth shatteringly stupid? No. But in < 140 characters and on Twitter, the message you seem to want wouldn't have fit or played as well.

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3 hours ago, iacas said:

When hitting a shot from off the green, leave the flagstick in.

It's really that simple. Unless the flagstick is leaning so far toward you (the Rules of Golf allow you to re-center a flagstick that's leaning because it wasn't put back in properly) that a golf ball will not fit, it can only help you. A ball that's rolling so fast it hits the flag and doesn't go in had NO chance of going in without the flag. The flagstick can only take speed off the golf ball, either letting it fall in or keeping it closer to the hole.

Well I think there are some rare cases where a straight flagstick can prevent a ball from going into the hole like when the ball is skipping and checking a bit and would've bunny hopped into the back of the hole if the flag weren't in way. Bill Haas was using a putter so that certainly wouldn't have happened in his case but I still like to take the pin out for very short chips. Looking at that wide open hole gives me that extra determination to go for it. I know I'm only going on memory here but I do believe my start lines are better when I have the flag out.

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2 minutes ago, SavvySwede said:

... I still like to take the pin out for very short chips. Looking at that wide open hole gives me that extra determination to go for it.

This is worth considering as well.  The psychological advantage you gain with that extra confidence might very well be greater than the chance the ball is going to hit the pin and drop were you to leave it in.

FWIW, I'm the opposite.  If I don't have a putter in my hands, then not having the pin in actually hurts my confidence.  I like having that "backstop," even if it is extremely narrow and I never actually hit it.:-P

If I do have a putter in my hand and I'm not facing a super fast downhiller then I don't really care either way when I'm inside of 30' or so.  I will leave it in, or tell a partner to leave it in if he asks, but if it's already out, meh, whatever.

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Sunday while golfing with the wife, she had three, yes three chips which hit the pin and all three dropped in.

I hit a perfect chip, tagged the flagstick dead center and then lips out did behind the hole a few inches.

So, 75% of the shots did go in. Not bad odds. Although my percentage was Zilch.....

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19 minutes ago, SavvySwede said:

Well I think there are some rare cases where a straight flagstick can prevent a ball from going into the hole like when the ball is skipping and checking a bit and would've bunny hopped into the back of the hole if the flag weren't in way.

The odds of that happening are far, far, far outweighed by the other scenarios that could happen there. Plus if a ball was skipping and had backspin, it would hit the flagstick and the spin would direct the ball downward too, so the ball might even be more likely to go in in your scenario, too. It's already pretty low on the flagstick if it's going to hit above the equator on the back of the hole.

19 minutes ago, SavvySwede said:

I still like to take the pin out for very short chips. Looking at that wide open hole gives me that extra determination to go for it. I know I'm only going on memory here but I do believe my start lines are better when I have the flag out.

Then you too are dumb. :-)

Very simple answer there: derive your confidence from the fact that leaving the flagstick in gives you a better chance of making the shot or keeping it close to the hole.

9 minutes ago, Golfingdad said:

This is worth considering as well.  The psychological advantage you gain with that extra confidence might very well be greater than the chance the ball is going to hit the pin and drop were you to leave it in.

I disagree. Convince yourself of the very real advantage of leaving the flagstick in. Heck, as it's a fact and not just a myth, you should be more confident in that.

9 minutes ago, Golfingdad said:

FWIW, I'm the opposite.  If I don't have a putter in my hands, then not having the pin in actually hurts my confidence.  I like having that "backstop," even if it is extremely narrow and I never actually hit it.:-P

It also helps with depth perception.

2 minutes ago, Club Rat said:

Sunday while golfing with the wife, she had three, yes three chips which hit the pin and all three dropped in.

I hit a perfect chip, tagged the flagstick dead center and then lips out did behind the hole a few inches.

So, 75% of the shots did go in. Not bad odds. Although my percentage was Zilch.....

Your shot wasn't going to go in any way, and was probably going to be much farther away than it stopped. So you guys saved at least three and possibly five or six strokes in just the one round.

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Damn I'm getting old... I forgot about my specialty of "Blading the Lob Wedge on Saturday" which hit the pin and dropped.

9 minutes ago, Club Rat said:

Although my percentage was Zilch.....

I can live with a 50/50 chance of making them when it's a line drive screamer....

I probably saved four or five shots on just that hole....

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I can't agree with this.  The flagstick is round which means you won't always get a good bounce.  The ball can literally go firing off any direction.

So instead of just missing the putt you could hit the flagstick and have it ricochet into a nasty sidehill lie.

And don't just ignore the mental aspect.  If people can visualize a shot better without the pin, then that is the smarter way to play it.

Just because you like one way of doing something, that doesn't make the opposing way "dumb."

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4 minutes ago, Club Rat said:

@Golfingdad 

Should I dare mention having the pin in on the final hole at Moon Valley ???

Be very very suspicious when Erik reverses course and tells the entire red team next September that he was wrong and you should always remove it.  Especially when he also tells us to start practicing only 2' and 20' putts. :-P

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http://www.golf.com/instruction/flag-or-out

This was a Pelz article from 2007. I don't know if there is other research on the topic. An interesting thing is that if it's leaning toward you, it helps because it causes the ball to rebound downward. (Unless it's leaning so far forward that there isn't room for a ball....but in that case you are allowed to center it).

I don't know if there have been other attempts to study this. It's harder than one might think to study it. Making the ball hit the flagstick on a chip from 15 yards away? That isn't easy. And what do you compare it to? Another chip, that is surely of a different speed, etc.? So the data comes from stuff you CAN test, like using a putting machine, where you can guarantee two duplicate putts.

Thankfully....this is a valid way of doing it, and the results say leave it in. But many people don't, including some great pros. Why?

Here is what I bet happens: Someone sees a chip from off the green hit the flag and bounce in a direction taking it downhill, far from the hole. Next time, he takes the pin out, and hits a much better chip, maybe lipping it out. Next time, he rolls it in. So his anecdotal experience is that it's better to take it out.

It takes thousands of shots to find out what is better, because there are so many variables at play. It requires more shots than probably any golfer would make in his lifetime. Maybe Sam Snead hit the flagstick a thousand times, I don't know, but probably most of us haven't.

So we end up with, perhaps, many people deciding on the basis of their own experience, but it turns out it's an insufficient number of trials to reliably judge the thing.

Leave it in!

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I've only ever taken it out if I'm <5ft away on the fringe and that's a rare occasion otherwise I just leave it in on the off chance it hits it and drops. never really thought it was an advantage. 

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