Golf Tips Newsletter
Issue 555 - Wed. May 1st, 2019
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USGTF Class "A" Teaching Professional
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Tom's Featured Tip: "Pin Out or Pin In" Just Got More Confusing
Lesson Comments: What Students Have To Say
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Tom's Featured Tip: "Pin Out or Pin In" Just Got More Confusing

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

I usually try to put absolute and complete information in my newsletter articles without too many "click through" links.

However, if you are a true student of the game and are looking for a definitive answer to the "pin in or pin out" question, you'll need to click through and read each article thoroughly then decide for yourself.

Interesting and confounding comparisons between the research.
  1. Pelz only tested with two pin types, but his testing is always very scientific.

  2. Molinari's was the least scientific, limited testing with only one type of flagstick.

  3. The data in articles 2,3, and 4 below shows very conflicting data and as a result - conflicting conclusions. I can't think of why there should be any major difference at all, since the tests were conducted very similarly.

Could it possibly be tester bias of some sort?

I have 100% confidence in Dave Pelz, I've read his articles and books for years, and he seems to be unbiased to me. I don't know enough about the other two testers to have an opinion on bias either way.

So two out of four research (#2 and #3) studies say leave the pin in. One says sometimes in sometimes out (#1), and one (#4) favors keeping it out all the time.

My personal takeaway from this research data.

At the end of the day if you have bias one way or the other, you can make an argument based on the research that points towards your preference.

My admitted bias is towards Dave Pelz, and since two of the research articles point in the direction of "pin in", that's my choice. I've done it for four rounds here in Florida (on vacation). I like the optics with the pin in. I also never had a putt that hit the pin kick out of the hole, and "pin in" allowed me to take the break out of some short putts and roll the putt a little firmer than normal with confidence.

If leaving the pin in gives you bad optics, then you would have to decide on whether you could get over it if you're convinced that it's a good idea. If you don't have confidence because of the optics, then leaving it out may well be the better choice for you. Confidence is a prime factor for good putting.

Pin In or Pin Out Research and Articles
  1. January 10th, 2019: Edoardo Molinari (Francisco's brother) conducts pretty scientific putting/flagstick experiment, and the results may surprise you

    Mixed results, he used a Perfect Putter - a training aid that ensures you get the same speed and line on every roll.

    The experiment yielded no difference no matter what you do with the flagstick on slow putts, but distinct advantages for both options on faster putts. On the mid-speed putts, Molinari's test found taking the flagstick out was the better choice, while on the faster putts, the clear edge went to leaving it in.

    His conclusions:
    • Slow Speed - no difference
    • Medium Speed - flagstick out
    • High speed - flagstick in

  2. Article published January 15, 2019, refers to data from Dave Pelz's 1990 study as the basis for his opinion: Dave Pelz: The science proves you should leave the flagstick in when you putt.

    The Perfect Putter wasn't invented yet when Pelz did his research for an article for Golf Digest on this subject on 1990, but he essentially created his own version for the test. Pelz, afer all, was at one time a NASA Scientist.

    His conclusion was that the test results showed conclusively that you will hole a higher percentage of putts when you leave the flagstick in.

    "The reason for this effect is that a significant amount of energy is lost from a putt's speed when the ball hits a fiberglass flagstick. The speed-loss enables gravity to pull the slower moving ball down into the hole more often."

    "Even though balls have changed since my testing, holes and flagsticks have not, and the "energy-loss" effect will still win the day."

    "To make you feel better about leaving the pin in, think about how many long putts and chips you’ve seen crash into the pin and still stay in the hole. If you’re watching golf on TV, you’ve also seen several shots fly into the hole directly from the fairway and stay in."

  3. January 16, 2019:
    Mygolfspy TESTED: Flagstick In (vs) Flagstick Out?

    Their testing team also used a Perfect Putter - a training aid that ensures you get the same speed and line on every roll


    1. Leaving the flagstick in is always an advantage vs. taking the flagstick out.

    2. Leaving the flagstick in also keeps the ball closer to the hole on misses.

    3. The less rigid flagstick has the highest make % and least distance after a miss.

    4. The most rigid flagstick is still an advantage for both makes and misses vs. flagstick out.

    5. Dead center strikes on the flagstick provided the best make % while leaving the shortest remaining distance to the hole on misses.

    6. Off-center strikes on the flag still provided a higher make % vs. flagstick out.

    7. While the advantage is not as significant, leaning the stick forward (toward the golfer) is still an advantage vs. taking the flag out.


    1. Don't let the tradition of pulling the flag out while you putt get in the way of shooting lower scores.

    2. Leave the pin in.

  4. April 16, 2019 Tom Mase, professor of mechanical engineering and former associate chair of the department of mechanical engineering at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly): The science behind why the flagstick should be pulled 99.9 percent of the time

    He too used a Perfect Putter - a training aid that ensures you get the same speed and line on every roll. (I want one of these but I'm not sure why.)

    His conclusion:   "Leaving the flagstick in may have some benefits but from a physics standpoint, there is zero evidence to suggest that the flagstick helps in any but the rarest of situations."

    "What the flagstick may do is occasionally reduce the length of a second putt and therefore possibly help reduce three-putts. Of course, it also will clearly and substantially reduce the number of one-putts."

    "It's also clear from our research that the fiberglass type of flagstick is the least detrimental (but still nowhere near as good as taking the flagstick out)."

    "Finally, there is some evidence that tour players putting on really fast greens may benefit slightly because the ball may be rolling slower as it comes in contact with the pin. This benefit however remains minuscule compared to the benefit of pulling out the flagstick completely. Perhaps the best benefits to leaving the flagstick in are the optics and distance perception."

    "Several sports vision experts we contacted suggested there would be such benefits especially from longer distances, and noted putting instructor Mike Shannon said his research suggested players read greens better because the flagstick acted as a plumb line."

    "So the obvious solution might be to have the flagstick attended. In other words, a return to the preferred method from before the new rule was enacted. We shall see if tour players will see this data and change their minds."
So....what's your preference - pin in or pin out?


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


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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!"
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