Golf Tips Newsletter
Issue 531 - Wed. November 7th, 2018
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USGTF Class "A" Teaching Professional
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IGPA Certified Golf Psychology Coach


Prepare to play your best golf by doing something now!

Tom's Featured Tip: Why You Should Leave The Flagstick In When Putting
Lesson Comments: What Students Have To Say
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Tom's Featured Tip: Why You Should Leave The Flagstick In When Putting

For simplicity, all advice on actual swings or drills is provided from a right handed perspective.

If you've been getting (and reading) my newsletter for awhile, you know that I'm an advocate for leaving the flagstick in for every chip shot or short pitch shot that you experience. The research on the subject concludes that leaving the flagstick in puts the odds in your favor.

I've never understood why some pro's take it out on chip shots. It makes no sense technically, nor does the statement we often hear from the commentators "he (she) took the flagstick out, so it looks like he's trying to hole it". First of all, most pros try to hole out every chip. Secondly, the odds favor leaving the flagstick in.

In 2019 all players will have the option to leave the flagstick in on all putts. This new rule - RULE 13.2a(2) - changes the old RULE which provided for a two stroke penalty for when a putt was holed out with the flagstick in the hole.

My advice is to take advantage of the rule and to leave the flagstick in for every putt EXCEPT for when an uneven cup setting causes the flag to lean so far forward that the ball can't fit into the hole, or when it's so windy that it might cause a moving flagstick to knock the ball away from the hole.

Many years ago, Dave Pelz, one of my favorite putting experts, conducted a study on whether leaving the pin in was the better call. Here was his conclusion: "Leave the flagstick in whenever the Rules allow, unless it is leaning so far toward you that the ball can't fit."

Pelz, whose previous career was as a NASA scientist, 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 or putt to be sure it is sitting properly in the cup. The Rules of Golf allow you to either leave a tilting flagstick as is or center it in the hole. However, you are not allowed to tilt it to give yourself an advantage.

  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. The flagstick will help you make more putts unless it is leaning severely toward you or itís so windy that it is moving and might knock your ball away.
Here's an interesting study that I found Golf ball reaction from hitting flagsticks (pdf file) comparing the rebound effect of three different flagsticks:
  • a the half inch solid regulation fiberglass flagstick,
  • a three quarter inch tapered tournament flagstick,
  • a one inch aluminum/fiberglass tournament flagstick.
Read it, the results are convincing.

One of my favorite - albeit quirky - pro's that has done his research on this is is Bryson DeChambeau. He apparently read the pdf I referenced above when making his "flagstick in or flagstick out" decision.

He's planning on using the flagstick MOST but perhaps not ALL of the time.

"It depends on the COR, the coefficient of restitution (rebound effect) of the flagstick," he said. "In U.S. Opens, I'll take it out, and every other Tour event, when itís fiberglass, I'll leave it in and bounce that ball against the flagstick if I need to."

Bryson DeChambeau sees the pin as a helpful ally.

U.S. Open pins are often notably thicker than typical Tour pins, leading to more aggressive rebounding when struck. "Itís a higher propensity for it to go in the hole if itís fiberglass compared to metal," DeChambeau said.

Here's the bottom line for the average player: unless your course uses a one inch aluminum or one inch hybrid flagstick, leave the flagstick in the hole when you putt and your chances for making the putt increase.

Try it you'll like it.


Love your practice, own your swing, own your health,


Golf Lessons

I conduct lessons at The Plum Creek Driving Range & Practice Facility
there's a link for Plum Creek info here:

Lessons are available for all ages and skill levels, please contact
me - Tom Tucker - at (716) 474 3005 or email me at
for more information.

Outdoor Lessons Details and Rates:

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Plum Creek Driving Range and Simulator  Outdoor range and play indoor golf on any of our 40 Simulator Courses. Call 585-993-0930 or email Mark at to reserve time for simulator play or practice!

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Tee times online or by phone in season.

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Only minutes from Buffalo, open to the public.

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All the best,

Tom Tucker
Teaching Pro, Plum Creek Driving Range & Practice Facility
WGTF ' "Top 100 Golf Teacher"
USGTF Class "A" Teaching Professional
IGPA Certified Golf Psychology Coach
Cell: (716) 474-3005

"There are no substitutes in the quest for perfection!"
~ Ben Hogan