Everyone is Starting to Test the Flagstick In or Out Theory

Frank News, Rules & Scoring Leave a Comment

We’re only a handful of days in to 2019 and already the new flagstick rule has everyone talking.

For anyone who’s been completely checked-out for the past few months, here’s how the rule reads:

New Rule: Under Rule 13.2a(2):                  

  • There is no longer a penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits a flagstick left in the hole.
  • Players are not required to putt with the flagstick in the hole; rather, they continue to have the choice to have it removed (which includes having someone attend the flagstick and remove it after the ball is played).

So it was only a matter of time before players started testing to see if they could take advantage of the flagstick on the greens. And needless to say, when this video popped up in my Instagram it piqued my interest:


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A post shared by GolfTrainingAids.com (@golftrainingaids) on

That little test seemed pretty conclusive right! If you have a little too much speed on your putt the flagstick would serve as a sort of “backstop” and work to your advantage.

So I dug a little deeper into the Instagram wormhole and found this more detailed test performed by Edoardo Molinari’s team:


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A post shared by Edoardo Molinari (@dodomolinari) on

Ok, so now this is getting interesting. Putts that attack the cup straight-on are one thing, but not every roll takes that entry line. But does it make an overall difference?

Here’s what the Molinari team found in their testing:

Flagstick Out


Flagstick In


What does it all mean? Here’s how Molinari’s team summed up the best flagstick strategy for each putt:

  • Slow Speed: No Difference In or Out
  • Medium Speed: Flagstick Out is Best
  • Fast Speed: Flagstick in is Best

I’m sure we haven’t seen the end of these “scientific” tests as more people try to maximize the new USGA rule, but what do you think about the results so far? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Cover Image via Instagram

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