Bryson DeChambeau said he will take advantage of a new rule in 2019 that allows golfers to putt from the green while leaving the flagstick in and unattended.
How many of his professional peers follow him remains to be seen.
DeChambeau, winner of four PGA Tour titles and known for his scientific approach to the game, recently told Golf.com at a photo shoot that he plans to leave the flagstick in while putting — unless he’s at the U.S. Open, where the sticks are made of a different material.
“It depends on the COR — the coefficient of restitution of the flagstick,” DeChambeau said. “In U.S. Opens, I’ll take it out. And every other tour event, when it’s fiberglass, I’ll leave it in and bounce against the flagstick if I need to.”
There has long been debate about whether a flagstick helps or hinders a shot headed toward the hole. But until Jan. 1, it only mattered when a ball was off the green.
The rules of golf did not permit a player to putt with the flagstick in; hitting the stick resulted in a two-stroke penalty when the ball was putted from the green.
But as part of an extensive rules overhaul by the United States Golf Association and the R&A, the rule has been changed. Starting on Jan. 1, players can leave the flagstick in when putting from anywhere on the green.
A long putt hit at great speed and tracking well past the hole might benefit from hitting the flagstick, at least keeping it from traveling a long distance away. Downhill putts might also see some players elect to leave the flagstick in.
The rule was amended mostly for recreational players and pace of play issues, as it can simply be easier and faster to not remove the flagstick.
But DeChambeau sees it helping him.
“Oh, absolutely,” he said. “The USGA’s gonna have to go back on that one. Like, ‘No! We made the hole bigger!'”
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