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Answer Should I Have The Flag In Or Out For Short Shots Around The Green

When playing short shots from around the green golfers should leave the flag in the hole whenever possible.

Its a question which many amateurs ask after seeing some professionals remove the flag when hitting small chips and when TV commentators endorse this course of action.
However, the question has been resoundingly answered by short game coach and former NASA scientist, Dave Pelz. Pelz studied thousands of balls fired towards a hole at different paces with an equal number with the flagstick in and out, on a number of different greens, at five different parts of the hole. For this he used both a machine and former tour professional to add a human element. Each test also included shots on level greens, ones that sloped sharply uphill and downhill. The tests showed that to stand the greatest chance of holing shots around the green, the flag stick should be left in unless it is leaning so far toward you that the ball cant fit.

Pelzs tests surprised many people because it went against convention, but its hard to argue with the statistical evidence he amassed. Follow these pieces of advice when out on the course to decide if leaving the flag in the hole is the best course of action.

  • If the flagstick leans slightly toward or away from the player it helps keep the ball in the hole. As the flagstick leans away from the golfer the hole becomes larger; when it leans toward the golfer it acts as a backboard rebounding the ball downward.
  • If the flagstick is leaning toward the golfer and there isnt enough room for the ball, the flag should either be placed correctly in the hole or removed all together. To ensure this doesnt happen, take the time to check the flagstick before you chip.
  • On normal chips players will still be helped by leaving the flag in. Pelz recommends leaving the flag in even on putts from just off the green; an inch or two off the green in the fringe.

If you are faced with a short shot from around the green, try leaving the flag in. The statistics say you will find more success with this approach.

Sorry Try Again! - See Explanation Below

The only time you will be penalized for leaving the flag in the hole is if you strike it during a putt when the ball is on the green. If the ball is just off the green, even by an inch, leaving the flag in is legal. If you hit the flag with a putt from the green the penalty is two shots.

Sorry Try Again! - See Explanation Below

Sometimes on shorter chips professionals do take the flag out, this however is normally to allow them to see the shot as a putt. Those familiar with the research and science will leave the flag in most of the time.

Sorry Try Again! - See Explanation Below

Although striking the flag with a shot from off the green is legal, deliberately placing the flag in the hole at an advantageous angle is not. This includes laying the flag behind the hole to stop a runaway chip, both of these things will see you penalized.