DeChambeau to test flag-in putting at Sentry Tournament of Champions
November 01, 2018
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
- Beginning on January 1, 2019 the rules of golf will allow the flagstick to remain in without penalty. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)
LAS VEGAS – Bryson DeChambeau says he intends to take advantage of a new rule in golf in 2019 that allows players to leave a flagstick in while on the green and will likely begin his efforts at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Maui.
DeChambeau – who spends countless hours researching all aspects of the game in an effort to improve his performance – believes the advantage will be so distinct that the rule will either be changed back or flagsticks will be made out of different materials.
In the past a player incurred a two-stroke penalty if a ball putted from the green hit the flagstick before going in the hole.
From January 1, 2019 the rules of golf will allow the flagstick to remain in without penalty.
In their notes the United States Golf Association and R&A claim that, “On balance it is expected that there should be no advantage in being able to putt with the unattended flagstick in the hole: In some cases, the ball may strike the flagstick and bounce out of the hole when it might otherwise have been holed, and in other cases, the ball may hit the flagstick and finish in the hole when it might otherwise have missed.”
But the four-time PGA TOUR winner says as long as the flags are made out of fiberglass – as it is at most courses on the PGA TOUR – there will certainly be an advantage.
Putts hit firmly will benefit if hitting the stick and slippery downhill putts will now have a backstop of sorts.
“It depends on the firmness value of the flag. The C.O.R. or coefficient of restitution of the flagstick,” DeChambeau said after his opening round at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
“I won’t do it at U.S. Open because of metal flagsticks but most likely will everywhere else.
“All I try to do is use every aspect of the game of golf to my advantage. I try to use the rules to my advantage in the most positive way possible. Not trying to skirt around anything, just use them.”
The basis for the new rule is to speed up play as amateur golfers playing without caddies will no longer have to walk to the flagstick to remove it for long putts.
DeChambeau believes the rule will certainly quicken play for amateurs but out on the PGA TOUR it could do the opposite.
“Inside a certain distance it could become a problem. Most people are going to want the flagstick out and I’m going to want the flagstick in,” DeChambeau said.
“There are going to be weird instances where I want it in because I know it is a benefit. If it’s a 20 to 30-footer I’ll just put it in and it might add a little time taking it in and out.
“So I don’t know how I am going to deal with that yet (with playing partners) … it is certainly going to be interesting.”
Golf has long debated the option of bifurcation of the rules – that is a different set for amateurs and professionals.
But an extensive overhaul, which this new rule is part of, is meant to keep the long tradition of the same set of rules for everyone be it a FedExCup champion or 40-handicapper.
“It may be what pushes us towards bifurcation,” DeChambeau says.
“They could also just make all the flags out of something different and we’d have to adjust. But I think absolutely they will rethink this one.”
The Sentry Tournament of Champions is set to be played from January 3-6, 2019 on the Plantation Course at Kapalua – the first PGA TOUR event under the new rules.