We tested out the new flagstick rule, here's what we found...
Should You Putt With The Flagstick In? 2019 Golf Rules
The new golf rules come into play on 1st January 2019 and there are some huge changes.
The new rules have been designed to speed up play and make the game slightly simpler, which should perhaps entice more people to take up the game or continue playing it.
One of the most significant rules coming in is that golfers will no longer have to take out the flagstick when putting.
Previously a player would receive a two-stroke penalty for hitting it with a putt from on the green.
This means that players have the option to no longer attend the flag and instead keep it in or take it out as they choose.
So should you keep the flagstick in? Watch the video below for our verdict:
WATCH: Should You Putt With The Flagstick In? 2019 Golf Rules -
GM Editor Mike Harris and Digital Editor Neil Tappin did an unscientific test at West Hill Golf Club in Surrey, hitting putts from long and short range with the flagstick in and out.
There were some interesting points discovered:
Leaving the flagstick in can really speed up pace of play, especially in instances where in a two ball player A is in a bunker and player B is on the green and needs the flag attended. Player A has to hit their bunker shot, rake the bunker and then attend the flag for their partner according to the current rules. Whereas the new rules will really speed up play here, especially with the encouragement of 'ready golf', allowing player B to hit their putt as soon as player A hits their bunker shot. This saved around a minute which in a big field of golfers can make a huge difference.
Another example of a pace of play improvement would be on a par 3 with the flag at the back of the green where most amateur club players will come up short. Walking all the way back to the pin to attend the flag for each golfer does take unnecessary time.
Putting from close range with the flagstick in on a windy day is fairly difficult. It is quite easy for the ball to bounce off the flagstick and out during windy conditions.
On a sunny day with shadows on the green, having the flagstick in from distance really did make a difference visually which therefore aides confidence.
Does it make a difference to keep the flag in on longer putts? Our hunch was yes, it did help.
Neil didn't like the flag in on short putts whereas Mike did. It does give you something very definitive to aim at. Often our Top 25 golf coaches suggest picking a precise spot and the flagstick being in does help that - aim small, miss small!
Does the flagstick being in stop you from holing putts from close range? Only if you hit them very, very hard. We hit putts at the flagstick firmly and it didn't make much of a difference.
Will you putt with the flag in next year? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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