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iacas

Leave the Flagstick In (and Tend it Too)

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Far too many zeros Drew. They make from that range 15% of the time. So he's hitting the hole at least that often. It's never gonna hurt him from that range (bizarre mental thoughts aside).

I've already addressed the confidence issue. Take confidence from knowing your odds improve.

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14 minutes ago, Golfingdad said:

It matters because I don't think it's anywhere close to a 2% gain.  I think you're talking about 15% to 15.0000000000001%.  I might have thrown a couple of extra zeros in there for effect, but my point is that its almost a completely negligible difference.

Also, along those same lines, you discounted the idea that it might be a psychological advantage for some pros to have it out because you thought it shouldn't bother them.  While that is probably true, there's nothing scientific about that, and it's just your opinion.  Perhaps Bill Haas shouldn't be bothered by a flagstick in the hole while lining up his putts, but that's not to say that he isn't.  And considering the miniscule help the flag in offers him on that type of putt, I would argue that it's entirely possible that he is helped by that same percentage, or even more, by the flag not being in the hole.  Whether it be learning Aimpoint or about how Edel fits putters, I've come to realize just how very tricky and deceptive our eyes can be to our brains.:-P

I have to agree to a large extent.  I have absolutely no doubt, based on my review of the articles, that leaving the stick in does improve the outcomes.  By that I mean, given a statistically significant number of occurrences of the ball hitting the stick (or not, which I suppose is the control), the total aggregate score will be lower when the stick is in.  I'm absolutely certain that I can find specific circumstances when the opposite is true, but on balance I agree that leaving the stick in is statistically superior.  

However, if removing the stick somehow gives the player more confidence, he may be more likely to hit a better shot, and that improvement (due to nebulous between-the-ears stuff) may offset the physical advantage of leaving the stick in.  I don't have data to back me up, this is simply a personal opinion.  And I know we should be able to gain confidence from the fact that we're doing the statistically correct thing, but not everyone's brain works that way.  That said, I'm going to try leaving the stick in whenever I can, and see how it goes.  There are only a very few occasions that I'll consider taking it out, usually for a relatively short putt from the fringe when I'm very confident in my speed control, but I'm going to try it.

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I leave the stick in quite often....because I'm lazy.

Glad to know, as someone mechanical and logically driven, that (all other things being equal <----key here, I have no point that I'm trying to drive home either way) that this gives me a slight edge over taking the thing out.

Plus I'm lazy

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9 minutes ago, iacas said:

Far too many zeros Drew. They make from that range 15% of the time. So he's hitting the hole at least that often. It's never gonna hurt him from that range (bizarre mental thoughts aside).

I've already addressed the confidence issue. Take confidence from knowing your odds improve.

Or take confidence from what suits your eye better.  You don't get to decide what gives a person more mental confidence...  

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6 minutes ago, rehmwa said:

I leave the stick in quite often....because I'm lazy.

Glad to know, as someone mechanical and logically driven, that (all other things being equal <----key here, I have no point that I'm trying to drive home either way) that this gives me a slight edge over taking the thing out.

Plus I'm lazy

Who knew that laziness is a virtue??   :dance:

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Just now, DaveP043 said:

Who knew that laziness is a virtue??   :dance:

It's a wonderful, glorious, and LIBERATING thing

 

 

(frankly, if playing alone, I rarely bother to pull the pin even when putting, unless I have a really interesting putt and want to do it all 'official' like.  I'd rather just chug along and use the time to scout the shot instead - as if it's that much more trouble....)

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Not to get too far off track, but this would be a perfect question to simulate using a physics engine.  You could do millions of trials and see exactly how strong the effect is.  Hmmmm...I'm not too busy this weekend...

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2 hours ago, Hardspoon said:

Not to get too far off track, but this would be a perfect question to simulate using a physics engine.  You could do millions of trials and see exactly how strong the effect is.  Hmmmm...I'm not too busy this weekend...

You would find that the ball finishes closer to or in the hole more often with the flagstick in.

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3 hours ago, Hardspoon said:

Not to get too far off track, but this would be a perfect question to simulate using a physics engine.  You could do millions of trials and see exactly how strong the effect is.  Hmmmm...I'm not too busy this weekend...

What exactly is a "physics engine."  If you mean a computer simulation, I'll pay much more attention to the (limited by practical matters) real life experiments that Peltz did.  Real life work is the benchmark that computer simulations should be calibrated against.

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20 minutes ago, iacas said:

You would find that the ball finishes closer to or in the hole more often with the flagstick in.

I know - that's why I said "how strong the effect is".

I was just thinking that while golf provides a ton of data for a lot of things, it's interesting to think that some situations are so specific that you'd have to create a simulation in order to get real data.  Anyway, didn't mean to get OT.

What exactly is a "physics engine."  If you mean a computer simulation, I'll pay much more attention to the (limited by practical matters) real life experiments that Peltz did.  Real life work is the benchmark that computer simulations should be calibrated against.

The physics engine is just the underlying "math" behind the simulations...so you can create your own models for the simulation.  Point taken on the real-world data.  I was just being silly, I suppose.

Edited by Hardspoon

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1 minute ago, Hardspoon said:

I know - that's why I said "how strong the effect is".

I was just thinking that while golf provides a ton of data for a lot of things, it's interesting to think that some situations are so specific that you'd have to create a simulation in order to get real data.  Anyway, didn't mean to get OT.

I think you mean a Monte Carlo simulation. We did these for designing lenses for cameras. While interesting I don't think the results would be all that different than what Pelz did. 

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Didn't read every post so may have already been said.  As I play in wind most of my rounds, I tend to make my decisions about flag in or out on that. If into the wind and the flag is pointing at me, I'm taking it out, period.  Happens a lot.  Not sure I agree with Phil pulling it out from 100 yards but for me it's all about the situation and never a black and white rule.

Edited by Gunther

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42 minutes ago, Hardspoon said:

I know - that's why I said "how strong the effect is".

I was just thinking that while golf provides a ton of data for a lot of things, it's interesting to think that some situations are so specific that you'd have to create a simulation in order to get real data.  Anyway, didn't mean to get OT.

The physics engine is just the underlying "math" behind the simulations...so you can create your own models for the simulation.  Point taken on the real-world data.  I was just being silly, I suppose.

Oh, I thought you were volunteering to write a golf toolbox for Matlab.

Seriously off topic, but...Just wishful thinking on my part. I'm taking a bunch of tutleman equations and making Matlab scripts out of them. Even got my new Doppler radar hooked up to matlab. Trying to get image data merged with it as well, but do not have a high speed camera yet. One is being developed by someone with potential for 10,000 frames per second under $500, but it's still in development mode.

These would be great with a "Golf Toolbox".

You might be able to model this problem without a physics engine, though. Or it could be a great tech museum exhibit with a computer controlled putter knocking 100 balls with a flag stick in it and 100 without. That could answer our question.

On topic, I always put the stick in unless requested otherwise.

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18 minutes ago, Lihu said:

You might be able to model this problem without a physics engine, though. Or it could be a great tech museum exhibit with a computer controlled putter knocking 100 balls with a flag stick in it and 100 without. That could answer our question.

The question has, for all intents and purposes, already been answered.

And no, @pumaAttack, the "science" of basic collisions is not in constant flux or whatever you said. It's pretty well understood basic physics at this point. I'd wager a hell of a lot of money that this isn't going to be "debunked." Leaving the flag in by and large and for the vast majority of circumstances is advantageous over not having the flagstick in.

That shot was not finishing as close to the hole without the flagstick there. Think of every hole in one you've ever seen, every chip-in with the flagstick out. Quite often the ball is moving at such a rate of speed that it would not have fallen in the cup (see the capture speed thread) had it not hit the flagstick.

I talked with some guys who coach out on the Tour (one mostly on the LPGA Tour) today, and two Tour players today. They all said I'd win my bet by a pretty wide margin if I was allowed to demonstrate and/or show the data to Tour players. They agreed the vast majority would switch up and leave the flagstick in whenever allowed. A quote from one following up via text summarized the general response I got from the others: "They're looking for any edge they can get. If they gave you the 10 minutes you might need, they'd all switch." Most of the guys I talked to didn't say "all" would switch, and one made a point of saying that some super stubborn guys might think it "looks cool" or something.

I asked the two Tour players why they do it and one said "Everyone else does, I figured since there was something in the cup there was less room for the ball." I explained to him the basic idea that the flagstick will slow the ball down if it's going too fast, and he's vowed to switch. He also said "I've only ever taken it out a few times in ten years, anyway." The other said "I saw Phil Mickelson do it when I was younger and never really questioned it." He switched. So of the Tour players, I'm two for two.

I asked the players and coaches about the confidence angle, and virtually everyone dismissed it and said they didn't think that had much to do with it, for most Tour players. One pointed out something interesting, saying "They miss six greens a round, if it had to do with confidence you'd see them taking it out more often than they do already." Only rarely do some of them take the flagstick out. "This isn't a widespread problem on Tour… Even Phil leaves it in most of the time."

So if it's not "confidence," then what is it? I asked the coaches, and their answers were similar to what the Tour players said - "they've seen it done by others and thought it was what you do." Or "Phil started doing it and people thought they should too." One said "30 years ago nobody was taking the flagstick out."

I also talked with @david_wedzik about another of the Tour players we coach. Not too long ago this Tour player asked us - he's a two-time winner on the European Tour, mind you - "How do I hit the ball lower? It's windy lately and sometimes I want to hit it lower."

These guys are awesome at getting the ball to go in a little hole, but… thinkers these guys are not. They're also, by and large, not stupid enough to pass up an actual advantage if shown that there is an advantage to doing something. And, given that they're PGA Tour players, they have that chance a little more often than you or I might. A shot might save them - if it means missing the cut or making it, or winning versus finishing in second - thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So why aren't instructors bringing this up to their Tour players? Because even at their level, the number of times they take the flagstick out when they should leave it in - remember, too, that six or so times per round they leave the flagstick in even though they're right there by the green - are so infrequent they simply have other things to talk about in their limited time. They don't imagine that their Tour player is going to be facing a must-make chip shot with $500k riding on the line.

But, I don't have that one-to-one issue here. I can take the couple of minutes, and tell hundreds of thousands of you: leave the flagstick in (unless it's leaning toward you so much a ball will not fit). I can take a minute and tell my college golfers that, by and large, they should leave the flagstick in.

And that's the entire point of this topic: to help you should you ever have an inkling to take it out because you saw someone else do it or because it looks cool. If you wanna be a dum-dum, go for it. Otherwise, take the advantage afforded to you by the Rules of Golf and leave it in.


And if after all of this, you still want to take it out, by all means, willingly give up the advantage afforded to you. It doesn't hurt me in the slightest. :-)

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@iacas  That was an excellent post and I appreciate the insight offered here.  Obviously you have more knowledge with the tour pros and I respect the answers provided.  

I have no problem with the science either, my post was more in jeer that scientific theories can always change when more knowledge is learned.  I still would like to see a study of chip shots rather than 2 foot putts though!  With that said, I fully understand that is makes sense to leave the flagstick in.  

If tour pros aren't doing it for a better mental image, then they should take it out as well.  I always leave it in, unless some yahoo yanks it without me telling them to.   

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Just now, pumaAttack said:

I still would like to see a study of chip shots rather than 2 foot putts though!

You get that the ball is rolling at the end of a chip, right? Did you watch the Michelle Wie video?

If your ball is still bouncing when it arrives at the hole when you chip it, you're a lousy chipper.*

Spoiler

* There likely exists a small set of conditions wherein a ball could be coming down off a bounce in which it would carry the front lip, hit above the equator on the back lip, and fall in the hole while it might sit near the lip had it hit the flagstick just before passing the half way point. Then again, I can imagine a good number of "chips" that you hit at those conditions hitting the flag and still dropping in, because the acceptable window for both the angle and speed is pretty narrow - we've all seen golfers fly the ball into the hole for an ace or an eagle). Plus, for those shots where your ball is still bouncing at the hole but would not clear the front lip and hit above the equator on the back lip… hitting the flagstick will STILL take speed off the golf ball, and it will finish closer to the hole (maybe even go in) with the flagstick in.

Just now, pumaAttack said:

If tour pros aren't doing it for a better mental image, then they should take it out as well.

I think you meant "they should leave it in as well."

Based on the guys I talked to today, most don't really know why they take it out. And most of the time, by and large, they don't take it out.

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3 minutes ago, iacas said:

You get that the ball is rolling at the end of a chip, right? Did you watch the Michelle Wie video?

Pretty much. You can simulate all sorts of speeds from 2 feet from the pin. Actually it probably takes out things like imperfections in the green or lots of break. 

4 minutes ago, iacas said:

Based on the guys I talked to today, most don't really know why they take it out. And most of the time, by and large, they don't take it out.

That makes sense when you look at most of previous golf knowledge people thought was right then proven false. Like the ball flight laws. 

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I think if the data/reality was laid out for the pros that they would "switch" to leaving the flagstick in. Just like they have with AimPoint, Trackman, using video, fitness....soft spikes :-)

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