Have you putted with the flagstick in yet? Under rule 13.2a(2), you may now putt on the green without having the flagstick attended or removed. Some players on tour such as Adam Scott, are taking every putt with it in. The mad scientist, Bryson DeChambeau, has identified a COR (coefficient of restitution), whatever that is, and declared he’ll putt with it in to take advantage of this calculation (other than in US Opens where the flagstick is made of some different material). Others are keeping it in or having it removed to suit situations.
Anecdotally, I’ve observed that most shots that strike the pin from off the green end up closer to the hole than if the pin hadn’t been in and this is in the forefront of my mind. I have not played in 2019 (still rehabbing elbow tendonitis) so I have plenty of time to think about how this will play out.
My initial thoughts:
- On long putts where I’d normally have the flagstick tended, I’ll leave it in as a backstop. This is definitely beneficial if I am coming in too fast. The one exception is if the wind is blowing and the flapping of the flag creates a distraction. Then I’ll ask for a tend.
- On downhill putts of any length, I’ll leave it in as a guard against too much speed.
- On short straight putts, I’ll leave it in and use it as a small target to try and bang the ball against. This will help me get more aggressive, which I badly need to do.
- On short to medium breaking putts where I’m trying to feel the speed, I’ll take it out unless the hole is on a severe slope and I can guard against a runaway.
I have a system I use for putts of 15 feet and longer to judge the distance. Will this need to change? I was also planning on getting a professional putter fitting and replacing my 1980s model Ping Answer with something customized to my game, but this may have to wait. Changing putter and approach at the same time may not be a wise choice.
The most important aspect will be to practice all putts with real flagsticks and not just those skinny little three-foot high metal pins used on most practice greens. A round on my 9-hole executive course will be just the ticket.
Have you putted with the flagstick in yet? Please share any thoughts or strategies you have.