Golf – Should You Remove the Flag Stick Or Leave it in the Hole?

When you are watching golf on the television have you ever wondered what goes through the players’ minds when deciding whether to remove the flag stick while putting or to leave it in the hole?

According to the official rules this is a decision which each player has to make and you are permitted to leave the flag stick in the hole and ask your caddy or a fellow player to watch over it or to remove it and place it off the green while putting out.

This might seem like a very simple decision but it is not quite as simple as you might think and is something that you need to think about very carefully.

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of removing the flag stick?

Removing the flag stick gives you clear access to the hole and ensures that the stick does not become an obstacle to dropping your ball into the cup. You don’t for example have to worry about your ball hitting the stick and bouncing out of the hole which can be very frustrating. On the other side of this same coin however, if you hit your ball a little bit too hard, you might be happy to have the flag stick in the way to stop it from rolling straight across the cup and on across the green.

By leaving the flag stick in the hole you have a clear target to aim at and hitting the stick can bring your ball up short and leave it very close to the hole or even drop the ball into the cup for you.

On the other hand, hitting the stick can also cause your ball to be diverted from its course and to shoot off at an angle, possibly onto a sloping area of the green on which it will happily roll away from the hole and even clear off the green.

So you see it is not quite as simple a decision as you might imagine.

At the end of the day you must weigh the advantages and disadvantages carefully but don’t forget to factor in your own playing style and of course the nature of the green. For example, if you are putting downhill you might like to leave the flag stick in to help prevent your ball from rolling on past the hole. Similarly, if you are putting uphill you might prefer to take the stick out to prevent your ball from hitting it, bouncing back and rolling right back down to where you started. It’s your call.