Both Can't Be True

The USGA/R&A say that:

  • There are times when the flagstick being in the hole will be a disadvantage, and times when it will be an advantage.
  • The proposed rule will speed up the pace of play.

We are here to say that both cannot be true.

Let's imagine that the first is true: there are times when the flagstick is an advantage (maybe when it leans away from you slightly, or to the left on a right-to-left breaking putt, or when the shadow helps a player line up his putt, but that there are also times when the flagstick is a disadvantage (it leans toward the player significantly, it's blowing around in the wind, etc.).

If that's the case, then you're going to find situations where a foursome of players take the flagstick in and pull it out multiple times per hole. Player A wants it put back in because he thinks it will help him, Player B from another position wants it out, but then C wants it in, and D wants it out…

The USGA/R&A have proposed only two simple scenarios:

  • One in which a golfer has a long-distance putt that's unlikely to hit the hole at all, and they'd like to putt up before their playing partners are able to tend the flag.
  • Another in which someone chips close and wants to tap in without pulling the flag.

These scenarios ignore the much more common scenario of four players putting out and wanting to make their putts as easy as possible. Some may feel the flagstick provides an advantage and want it in, others may want it out.

Right now the flagstick is pulled, on average, once per hole. With this proposed rule, the flagstick may go in and out of the hole three, four, even five times per hole.

Stop the insanity. Both of the above cannot be true. Unless the flagstick is almost always a disadvantage on shorter putts (those likely to hit the flagstick), players will differ on whether they want it in or out.