Leaving the Flagstick In, Part 2

Last week I wrote about the stats My Golf Spy published regarding how leaving the flagstick in while putting almost assuredly will help your putting, and therefore your score. Here are some more thoughts.

Course Defense

First of all, almost all of this is related to the professional game. For the great, great majority of amateur golfers–you and me and everyone who reads this each week plus pretty much everyone else you know and play with– the new rule is a good thing.

Anything that will help speed up the game, and anything that may drop a stroke every round or two, is a good thing for the stereotypical Saturday morning foursome.

But for the pros, I’m not so sure it’s a good rule. Course defenses have become more and more limited, unfortunately, because of how far the ball flies.

[Distance is another debate for another time- this isn’t about distance per se]

But when most par-4’s for a PGA pro consist of driver-wedge, the last defense left is on the greens. The week-in-week-out tournament has next to no rough, so bomb and find is the de rigueur. Even the shortest hitters are hitting driver/wedge- it just may be a pitching wedge rather than a lob wedge. Hole locations tucked on the very corners of greens are the norm. Thus, the attempt to “protect” par happen primarily on the greens.

And this new rule reduces one of those defenses.

Putting Statistics

I wish I could compare the putting statistics so far in this (young) PGA Tour season with last year, just to see if there are any anomalies that have surfaced. However, I cannot find anywhere stats from the 2017-18 PGA Tour.

Therefore, here is what I will be looking for throughout the rest of 2019.

If there is a putting statistic of any kind, ShotLink tracks it. I included the link if you are just dying to know, for example, “Putts Made Per Event Over 10 feet” or “GIR Putting 5-10 feet.” And I don’t even know what that one means.

So, to see if the pros are going to truly take advantage of the flagstick rule, I would think the following categories are the ones to watch:

  • Three Putt Avoidance- that one is pretty self-explanatory
  • Total 3-Putts 15-20 feet- I think that is a key distance. Anything longer and luck really plays a factor, but from 15-20′ a professional can hit the hole a large percentage of the time. So will this year’s 3-putts from 15-20 feet be less than last year’s? I would think so.
  • All Putts Made By Distance 15-25′- Again, this is a range that a Tour player can make. He knows leaving the flagstick in can help the ball go in the hole. He also knows that even if it doesn’t, the stick will deaden the next putt and leave it at tap-in range. Therefore, I would think more players will putt more boldly and leave the flagstick in. At least, I would.

Scoring Stats

The other stat that bears watching is the overall scoring stat. Logic says that if players can pick up a stroke or so every round by leaving the flagstick in, the overall scoring average will be lower for the year.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli first coined the term, and we all know that numbers can be manipulated. But when Dave Pelz, My Golf Spy, and common sense all say that leaving the flagstick in will lower scores, the logical question is, “By how much?” And that’s still to be determined.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy Shooting Your Age!

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