Will you be putting with the flagstick in?


Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.

Bryson DeChambeau won on Sunday for his fourth victory in his last 12 starts. In one interview he said that after January 1st, when the new Rules of Golf become official, he may putt with the flagstick in, depending on the co-efficient of restitution of the flagstick. Do you think it will help him and would you keep the flagstick in when putting?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I’m no science nerd, but I agree with DeChambeau that it depends on the flagstick.  In my experience, flagsticks today are not nearly as cooperative at stopping and dunking the ball as they were a generation ago.  Today’s models are much more likely to deflect the ball away from the hole — sometimes to a further distance than the ball would’ve achieved on its own, and sometimes even when the ball might have fallen on its own.  (Mind you, I’m judging this on the basis that my skulled wedges, travelling at the speed of light, never seem to fall in the hole when colliding with the flagstick.)  So, I do NOT intend to leave the flag in the hole unless I’m far enough away that I’d have it tended anyway.  (But here’s a question: how can using a flagstick to your advantage be more justifiable than not being allowed to move your ball out of a divot hole that your ball unfortunately came to rest in?)

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Life Member, PGA of Canada: A lot is made of modern technological advancements in golf. Strangely, there has always seemed to be a few types of people who talked about it. Those who understood it but couldn’t play and subscribed, those can play but didn’t understand it and subscribed anyway and those who don’t subscribe period. The difference with DeChambeau is he is a leader in innovation and he can play too. Putting with the fibreglass pin in will increase the number of putts holed because it can be used a backstop meaning a player can hit his/her putts firmer. The new rule will be the first major game ‘changer’ in putting since the invention of the greens mower. Lower scores are on their way.

Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): I really cannot argue that it wouldn’t work because I just don’t know enough about the coefficient of restitution, and physics in general, to counter his theory. The guy majored in physics at SMU, and is clearly onto something with his unique, science-inspired swing and vector putting technique. So, I’m inclined to think there may be some veracity to the strategy, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. As for myself, my putting was so horrendous this past season that I am willing to try just about anything—including leaving the flagstick in—to get back on track.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: I don’t like this ruling at all. Last week, a pal had a slick downhiller of about 10 feet. He said that next year he’d leave the pin in and hope to hit it to save himself going 10 feet past. That brought it home. He went about 8 feet past and missed it coming back. Next year it would likely be a two putt. That’s good for his game, not for the game itself. If it would help my pal lower his 16 handicap, it’s going to help the Tour guys even more — and they don’t need any more help. Golfers should call BS on this one. I’m not leaving the pin in.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): I don’t get this Rule change at all and certainly don’t like it. It levels the playing field even more as it gives an advantage to bad putters who don’t have the skill to hit a putt with appropriate speed. I have no idea how DeChambeau would even measure the COR of a flagstick but good luck to him. I’ll have it out please.

Justin Rose also won on Sunday, defending the title at the Turkish Airlines Open. In doing so, he reclaimed the #1 spot in the World Golf Rankings, the sixth change at the top in the last six months. Do so many changes dilute the status of being #1?

Deeks: Au contraire, I think the continual changes make the pro game more interesting.  That said, I find the ranking formula incomprehensible, so when I hear someone new has reached the top, I just scratch me head and think “oh, that’s nice.”  But the changes at the top reflect the quality and equality of the men’s game, and that’s good.  On the women’s side, I’m baffled by the fact that Brooke Henderson hasn’t been higher than 8th the past three seasons (and usually in the teens), while Lexi Thompson, Minjee Lee, Georgia Hall, and Inbee Park rank higher.

Schurman: That’s an excellent question! Greg Norman, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods sat at the top so long the whole concept seemed frivolous! Now the opposite is happening and the point you raise becomes valid. The golf masses like a dominant player while the hard-core followers prefer a multitude of candidates. I’m glad Rose regained the position! I think he is a great role model for how to swing the club, his tenacity throughout his career and his personal qualities.

Kaplan: I don’t think it necessary dilutes it, although I’ve never been that fond of the distinction because it doesn’t really mean anything other than bragging rights. If anything, the six changes in the last six months shows that there is more parity at the elite level of the sport than there has been in years, and I think that is excellent for the sport going forward.

Quinn: Remember when the title Heavyweight Champion of the World meant something before it became meaningless? This is something like that. When it left the realm of consensus and first became quantified in 1986, there was a certain cachet (and likely bonus bucks) to being numero uno. But it became meaningless, and redundant, when Eldrick held the title for 281 weeks. Everyone knew that he was the best without being told. Now we all know there are a bunch of great players out there with no one vastly superior. Like FedEx Cup points, the No. 1 number means nothing to fans.

Mumford: In every tournament I ever played, there was always “the guy you have to beat”. Whether by stats or reputation, the consensus was that he was the best and everyone knew it. Everyone on the PGA Tour knew Tiger was the best and didn’t need the OWGR to tell them either. With no clear #1 now, the title is meaningless. Once somebody holds it for several months, then it will mean something to him and the gun who eventually takes him down.

According to Golf.com, former Golf Channel host Peter Kessler is going after current Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, criticizing him for his analysis about distance vs accuracy and the nostalgia of classic courses. In one tweet, Kessler wrote, “Boy, you are exposing your stupidity. Stick with the heel thing since you’re a heel now. Leave the game to smarter, wiser people, which in your case is everyone. You are now a destructive, bad influence. Just go away. I’m nauseated.” Pretty outspoken commentary from Kessler, who is obviously not a Chamblee fan. Are you a fan? Do you usually agree with Chamblee or not? (Reference: you can read the entire Golf.com article HERE. https://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/2018/11/04/peter-kessler-calls-brandel-chamblee-destructive-bad-influence/ )

Deeks: First of all, I don’t agree with Kessler about Chamblee.  I don’t always agree with Brandel, but I always find his analysis interesting and often provocative.  Second, I was never a fan of Kessler; yes, his knowledge of golf history was astounding, but his ego and self-importance constantly got in the way of his interviews, and ultimately, his career at the Golf Channel.  And third, Kessler’s attack here is offensive, and sadly and painfully reflective of the moral decline in America that’s occurred since November 2016… attack, insult, spew, exaggerate, and lie… let’s guess which party Mr. Kessler belongs to.

Schurman: I am a Chamblee fan. He is articulate, well spoken and his information is current. For some unexplained reason, he tends to rub some people the wrong way some of which might come from his confident attitude. However, he has found a niche that earns him a very significant income and I think as often as not he ‘plays’ his part. Over his career, I have learned a lot by watching his shows and while I don’t always agree with him I enjoy hearing the opinion of a person who can back up his argument with sound information. I was once on a Facebook blog with Kessler which is supported by a huge number of the top people in the golf industry. In one particular discussion/debate Kessler made several outlandish posts and the other followers commented in a barrage not seen in a while. He disappeared. I was watching The Golf Channel the night he was interviewing Arnold Palmer who was of the opinion that technology (trampoline effect) was good for golf which was in opposition to the USGA. Kessler pursued Palmer doggedly. When the show returned after a commercial Kessler was not on the set. In fact, he might very well be one of the first people to enter space without an astronaut suit. If you think Arnie is a fun loving, even-tempered, gentle guy I’d love to have heard what took place off camera. I thought Kessler was out of place on both occasions and it now looks like I can add a third.

Kaplan: Wow, could there be a fight between two less-likeable golf personalities? I’ll be honest here: I do not like Chamblee and the pseudo-Skip-Bayless-of-golf role that he has assumed in recent years. I find myself rolling my eyes at a majority of his “takes” and thoroughly enjoy it when the pros call him out on his nonsense. That doesn’t mean I think the man lacks talent as an analyst. He is, by far, the most skilled orator on the Golf Channel and there are times when I appreciate his insights and attention to analytics. I’m just not down with the outlandish statements and tweets Chamblee makes to drive ratings or fabricate storylines during slow news weeks. For the record, Kessler has become an attention-seeking and crotchety Twitter troll, and his opinions should be considered with a grain of salt. In fact, both of them probably need a social media timeout.

Quinn: I had a long and pleasant conversation with Chamblee when profiling him as defending Greater Vancouver Open champ (his only Tour win) and had a similarly very enjoyable experience with Kessler when I profiled him as a ‘Whatever happened to…’ subject when he was doing the ads for The Perfect Club. Have always liked Chamblee and have almost always liked his takes on the game. Kessler is a real character, or at least was, and his knowledge of the game is encyclopedic (aided by a photographic memory). But I don’t get this spat at all. Chamblee is making a pretty startling case with his stats. Kessler is making no sense at all. Anyone, including the Tweeter in Chief, who sends out 85 tweets in one day should seek help, or get DirectTV. Kessler is reduced to a grumpy old man yelling at kids to get off what was once his lawn.

Mumford: I’m a Chamblee fan too and often agree with him. That said, one of the things I enjoy about his TV persona is the way he sets himself up to be lambasted by the dissenters. He’s overly positive, a tad arrogant but always better prepared. It makes for some great TV. Not sure what Kessler’s issue is. Maybe he thinks the way back to a regular TV role is to be so outspoken, so ignorant and so wrong, he can’t be ignored. After all, it worked for Trump.

The Round Table
The Round Table is a panel of golf writers, PGA members and industry experts.

5 thoughts on “Will you be putting with the flagstick in?

  1. “Kessler is reduced to a grumpy old man yelling at kids to get off what was once his lawn.”

    Great comment!

  2. If leaving the stick in is supposed to speed up play, I don’t see how that will work. 2 guys leave it in, 2 guys want it out. In Out In Out…….sounds like a mess to me.

  3. I thought the idea was to legalize what we already do half the time. If its a long walk to the flag for that first putt then leave the flag in. After putting, take the flag out for the next guys with shorter putts and that does speed up the game.
    As for doing it for any putt … well that does seem stupid and unnecessary. I do leave it in often when I am off the green but not always , since I had the flag throw a ball out that would have been in , if the flag was out. It depends on the angle the flag is resting at and how much wind there is.

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