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My Flagstick In vs. Out Data

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30 minutes ago, Swooshgolf said:

I can only imagine that the USGA/R&A  did thorough testing to get their conclusion.

They did no testing.

I know this for a fact. They assumed that there was no advantage or disadvantage. They stated as much, and recent comments say the same thing: they did no actual testing.

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9 minutes ago, klineka said:

Why? What reason do you have to think that?

Well, they're an organization and thus would put thought into things that could be detrimental to many. I would think that there is a position that only does these type of test but I could be wrong.

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1 minute ago, Swooshgolf said:

Well, they're an organization and thus would put thought into things that could be detrimental to many. I would think that there is a position that only does these type of test but I could be wrong.

See my post above yours - I think you were writing your response and didn't notice my post.

They never tested it, even though they could have given someone $5k and 30 days to test it thoroughly.

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2 minutes ago, iacas said:

See my post above yours - I think you were writing your response and didn't notice my post.

They never tested it, even though they could have given someone $5k and 30 days to test it thoroughly.

I can't say I'm not surprised but I guess good thing is that everyone will be able to use this rule. Do you think many well-established putters will put this way? I don't see many doing this unless they start putting badly.

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15 minutes ago, Swooshgolf said:

I can't say I'm not surprised but I guess good thing is that everyone will be able to use this rule. Do you think many well-established putters will put this way? I don't see many doing this unless they start putting badly.

We have other topics for that; this one's largely about the data. My recommendations remain current here: https://lowestscorewins.com/tips/putting-with-the-flagstick-in. While you're there visit this page and pick up a copy.

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this was a great study, one of the most thorough ive read yet

Ive been leaving the pin in for every single putt this year and FINALLY after 50+ rounds had one bounce out

the reason: it was a 20 footer, left to right breaker, and the pin was leaning 10-20 degrees to the left

i need to pay more attention to the lean now on, and take out if its leaning towards the way the ball would go in

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During my last two rounds I putted with the flag stick in on every putt and it did improve my confidence. I will need a larger sample size before I can say definitively if it helps me save strokes, but based on many studies that have been done it appears it should save strokes.  

The confidence gain came from being more confident about the speed of the putt when I could see the flag stick using my peripheral vision when my aim point was well outside of the hole (for instance on a downhill/side-hill breaking putt.

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As a guy who does play a fair share of rounds solo leaving the flag in will keep me moving. I will say the small sample size this year it has been a bit annoying when you are in a 4 some and some players want to keep it in some want it out. I would imagine this will ne figured out sooner rather than later. 

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I assume the rules formerly forbade leaving the flagstick in because it conveyed some sort of advantage to the player, so it’s not surprising to find this confirmed by empirical data.

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On 2/15/2019 at 8:58 AM, scottyarcy said:

this was a great study, one of the most thorough ive read yet

Ive been leaving the pin in for every single putt this year and FINALLY after 50+ rounds had one bounce out

the reason: it was a 20 footer, left to right breaker, and the pin was leaning 10-20 degrees to the left

i need to pay more attention to the lean now on, and take out if its leaning towards the way the ball would go in

I've witnessed the exact same thing happen twice in my foursome.  The 1st time was because the wind was blowing the flag stick to the side and the ball bounced off the stick and stopped about 1 foot away. The 2nd time, the hole for the flag stick at the bottom of the cup was really worn out and loose and the ball did the same thing. We all agreed leaving the flag in was the best thing to do except in these types of situations.

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On 3/3/2019 at 8:29 PM, easyjay39402 said:

I assume the rules formerly forbade leaving the flagstick in because it conveyed some sort of advantage to the player, so it’s not surprising to find this confirmed by empirical data.

I'm not sure it was ever really studied, but there was an impression that it could help.  Golf started as a match play game, and some of the earliest rules said that either side could have the flagstick removed.  So if I'm playing you, and I think the flagstick COULD help you, I can have the flagstick taken out before you hit your shot.  I can protect my own interests, and really nobody else is effected by my choice.  But in stroke play, the entire field's interests need to be protected by the rules, so the earliest stroke play rules required the flagstick to be removed, initially when you were within 20 yards.  Later versions required the flag to come out when you were on the putting green.  So its largely a tradition without any real proof.  Modern researchers are quantifying the statistics involved with the flagstick in or out. 

I should clarify, this is my interpretation, based on what I understand of the rules through the ages, and drawing my own conclusions as to why the rules changed in the ways that they did.  Check here for some rules history:

 

Edited by DaveP043

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flag in certainly helped me in a recent club game over hit hard uphill to flat pin position and hit the pin square to sink the putt had the flag not been in would have run off the green 10yds+ easy saved me 2-3 shots 

 

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My mind has not adapted yet to the flag stick in. When left in I find I hit the putt a bit too firm. When out better distance control. Will work on getting this straightened out as the flag stick in speeds up play in my opinion. 

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Let me first start by saying, that I believe the work that @iacas has done with the flagstick in the hole has convinced me his data is real.

This month in Golf Digest (I know.....) a Tom Mase, PH.D performed a study at the request of Golf Digest (he lost creditably with me when I saw he was a moo U grad).   I didn't see a sample size other than "All scenarios were tested in random rounds of 30 putts each." 

The 99.9967% solution:Based on probability and standard deviation calculations and PGA Tour statistics, the best tour players would strike the flagstick dead-center from 20 to 25 feet about 3.3 percent of the time.  if you assume the best pros wold rarely roll  their first putt nine feet past the hole-perhaps one in a thousand times-that would make leaving the flagstick in a benefit on only .0033 percent of all putts from 20 to 25 feet.   And that's for the best pros.  For a typical amateur, those percentages are much worse.

He does go on to say the with different sticks, the results were the same.  Talk of a wind advisory causing the flagstick to be biased was addressed.

His final point was:   This data argues against leaving the flagstick in.  One more reason: Retrieving putts made with the flagstick in also could lead to hole damage.   

 

 

My final thought.  It's amazing that statistics and be so useful and so deceiving.    

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1 hour ago, dennyjones said:

  It's amazing that statistics and be so useful and so deceiving.    

You know that 68.4% of statistics are made up..........  :-D

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I just started playing again this season and it will be my first year playing and living at the "windy" Jersey Shore.  I played my first legitimate round on Wednesday and was paired with a pleasant golfer who asked if I planned on leaving the pin in.  Based on what I have read here and other writings I decided I would leave the pin in.  On the back nine I had a short par putt (not normal for me!) and left the pin in on about a 30 inch putt.  The ball was heading ring for the hole and instead of falling in it hit the pin and went sideways about 6 inches.  I looked at the hole and from the direction I putted the ball would not fit in the hole because the pin had been moved by the wind.  It was not howling at the time but a previous gust of wind had caused the the pin to lean.  I appreciate all the work done on the study described in this thread but in the future I will check the pin carefully and pull it if it is leaning towards the direction I am putting from.  

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1 hour ago, NJpatbee said:

I just started playing again this season and it will be my first year playing and living at the "windy" Jersey Shore.  I played my first legitimate round on Wednesday and was paired with a pleasant golfer who asked if I planned on leaving the pin in.  Based on what I have read here and other writings I decided I would leave the pin in.  On the back nine I had a short par putt (not normal for me!) and left the pin in on about a 30 inch putt.  The ball was heading ring for the hole and instead of falling in it hit the pin and went sideways about 6 inches.  I looked at the hole and from the direction I putted the ball would not fit in the hole because the pin had been moved by the wind.  It was not howling at the time but a previous gust of wind had caused the the pin to lean.  I appreciate all the work done on the study described in this thread but in the future I will check the pin carefully and pull it if it is leaning towards the direction I am putting from.  

You've learned a valuable lesson.   From the same thread...

 

Quote

If you want to putt with the flagstick in from short range, there are times it can help:

  • the more aggressive line
  • when the flagstick helps you aim
  • when the shadow of the flagstick helps you aim

That's about it, and if you take the more aggressive line, it looks like you don't really want to miss low, because there's a sliver of speed/off-centered-ness where the flagstick can hurt you.

I also don't recommend taking the more aggressive line. Make the hole bigger. Play a bit more break and make the hole bigger.

I've only recommended leaving the flagstick in from 25+ feet or so.

 

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