Nov 2nd, 2018
Should you putt with the flag in when golf rules change?
Golf Scientist Bryson DeChambeau says yes
What's the science with having the flag in or out when putting, chipping etc? Is the ball more or less likely to drop with it in or out? Only one way to find out, ask the Golf Scientist himself, Bryson DeChambeau. Just in time for the big rule change in 2019...
DeChambeau told GOLF.com that it all comes down to simple calculation.
"Will I be putting with the flagstick in? Oh, absolutely,” said, Bryson mischievously. “The USGA’s gonna have to go back on that one. Like, ‘No! We made the hole bigger!'
“It depends on the COR, the coefficient of restitution of the flagstick,” said Bryson. “In U.S. Opens where the pins are often thicker, I’ll take it out, and every other Tour event, when it’s fiberglass, I’ll leave it in and bounce that ball against the flagstick if I need to. It’s a higher propensity for it to go in the hole if it’s fiberglass compared to metal”
Try telling that to Phil Mickelson whjo has been known to have his caddy attend the flag when he's hitting from anywhere inside 70-yards.
It will be interesting to see who does what when the rule changes at the start of 2019, allowing golfers to make the choice either way. Certainly Dave Peltz is firmly in DeChambeau's camp, after conducting a test to see what the aggregates are when leaving pin in or taing out.
“Leave the flagstick in whenever the Rules allow," says Peltz, "unless it is leaning so far toward you that the ball can’t fit.”
Pelz rolled thousands of balls at the hole with the pin in, out, and leaning in each direction. Here are some of his notes:
1. Perhaps most surprising, when the flagstick leans either slightly toward the golfer or away, the odds of it helping to keep the ball in the hole increase: With the flagstick leaning away from the golfer, the hole becomes effectively larger; when the flagstick leans toward the golfer, the ball rebounds downward, again helping shots find the hole.
2. Only in the most obvious case, when the flagstick is leaning so far toward the golfer that there isn’t enough room for the ball, is leaving the flagstick in a bad idea. Check the flagstick before you chip to be sure it is sitting properly in the cup. (The Rules of Golf prohibit you from positioning a flagstick to your advantage. But you may leave a tilting flagstick as is or else center it in the hole.)
3. Even if you don’t hit the flagstick dead center, it still will aid you. It proved especially advantageous when chipping downhill and at faster speeds. I even believe the flagstick should be left in when you’re putting from an inch or two off the green in the fringe. The flagstick will help you make more putts unless it is leaning severely toward you or it’s so windy that it is moving and might knock your ball away.