In or out?
That has been the question faced by us golfers since the new Rules of Golf came in on January 1, which gives us the option of whether we want to putt with the flagstick in or not.
So far, opinion among tour pros has been rather split. Bryson DeChambeau and Adam Scott have predominantly been putting with the flagstick in, while Justin Thomas said he 'couldn't take himself seriously' if he did.
Edoardo Molinari, however, thinks he has the definitive answer.
The Italian, who is widely regarded as having one of the sharpest minds on tour, has been conducting his own studies on the matter over the past few weeks in order to work out, once and for all, whether you should be putting with the flagstick in or out.
Without further ado, we'll hand it over to 'Dodo' in this video uploaded to the account of his golf academy.
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Following the testing from 2 weeks ago...we give the flagstick test another go! ⛳️ We are now so confident in what we found that we also challenge everybody to show us that what we say is not right by simply posting a video. 👉 #flagstickchallenge ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This time we looked for threshold speeds: at which speed does the flagstick start to make an impact on the make percentage (either positive or negative)? 🧐 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 📣 And you know what? Consistently with our first test, we found that for most putts the flagstick is either making no difference at all or even HURTING your chances. The few times when it helps are when the ball reaches the hole with a speed of more than 8 FEET past the flag AND hits the flagstick right in the center.😱 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Here are the details: 📝 - For any putt that finishes 3️⃣ feet or less past the hole the flagstick DOESN’T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE AT ALL (the ball that goes in without the flagstick goes in with the flagstick too and viceversa) - Between 3️⃣ feet past and 8️⃣ feet past, the flagstick is actually HURTING your chances of making the putt. As you clearly see in the video, when the ball hits the flagstick it slows down but it also gets DEFLECTED towards the lip and consequently it lips out much more often than the exact same putt hit without the flagstick which hits the back of the cup with a higher speed but more towards the center and consequently drops in. - Starting at 8️⃣ foot past, as long as you hit the flagstick right in the middle, the flagstick is going to help you making more putts. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So our final question is: how many putts do you hit that hit the hole right in the middle AND would have finished more than 8 feet past if they didn’t hit the hole❓ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Because that is the only time that leaving the flagstick in is going to help you❗️ So please, don’t be fool and TAKE THE FLAGSTICK OUT WHEN PUTTING! 🕳 ——————————————————— 🔺For the golfing nerds out there, greenspeed for our test was 9, the flagstick was very thin with a very low COR, the green was freshly cut and rolled and we made sure to never step on the line of the putt during testing.
Of course, Molinari's findings are contrary to those offered by short game guru Dave Pelz, who pored through data to suggest that it is more beneficial to leave the flagstick in.
But Molinari elaborated further about his studies on Twitter in a conversation with Denis Pugh, who coaches Francesco Molinari.
Obviously if I start hitting putts at all possible speeds the flagstick is going to help...but, again, how many times you hit a putt with a speed of 8’ past AND you hit the hole right in the middle?— Edoardo Molinari (@DodoMolinari) February 7, 2019
It would be like saying that if you hit the tee shot down the fairway AND you hit a sprinkler then I am hitting the ball longer...so in order to hit the ball longer don’t swing harder but aim for the sprinkler! Sorry, but this is not very smart in my world!— Edoardo Molinari (@DodoMolinari) February 7, 2019
So, there you have it.