Your favorite club isn’t always the right club around the green

By Keely Levins
When you’re practicing your short game, are you just dropping a bunch of balls and hitting the same chip, with the same club, over and over? Be honest—a lot of people do it. But what it leads to on-course is you just grabbing that trusty club and trying to make it work for whatever shot you may have. Golf Digest’s Chief Digital Instructor Michael Breed says it’s not the right tactic. “Limiting yourself to one technique around the greens won’t lead you to success,” says Breed.
Instead, put your focus on evaluating the situation at hand. Ask yourself a few basic questions: How far do I want the ball to fly? How far do I want the ball to run out? How fast is the green?
If you have a ways to hit it and a lot of green to work with, Breed says to grab a mid-iron, like your 7-iron. Use a smaller swing and let the ball come out low and run. This type of shot will lead to a lot more success than grabbing that 56-degree wedge you love so much, taking a half-swing at it and trying to get it to fly and stop near the hole.
If there isn’t much between you and the green, you’re going to need to hit a shot that goes higher than the bump-and-run, and that lands softly. Breed has a few moves that make this scary shot easy: First, open the clubface — it’ll get you more loft and launch the ball with more trajectory. Next, stand farther away from the ball than you usually would. This will help you get it up in the air. And finally, as you come into impact, the handle swings through staying close to your lead thigh as the clubhead whizzes by and hits the ball.
These tips are just a small part of a larger video series hosted by Breed called Michael Breed’s Playbook which you can access here. There are three lessons in the series, covering how you should practice your driving, your short game, and putting so that when you’re on the course, you’re ready to find the fairway, knock it close and make the putt.
Source: Golf Digest

A Golf Course Unlike Any Other: How The Masters Became The Masters

When Bobby Jones won the Grand Slam — all four major tournaments in a calendar year — it included the U.S. Open, the Open Championship, The U.S. Amateur, and the British Amateur. Today the first major of the year is Jones’ own tournament, The Masters. Hosted on the course he built, Augusta National, it has become an annual American sporting tradition that transcends golf. But The Masters wasn’t always iconic, it wasn’t even always called The Masters, and it almost failed a number of times. We caught up with golf historian and Bobby Jones biographer Sidney Matthew to find out how Augusta National and The Masters went from a bankrupt passion project to a seminal part of our sporting identity.

Why did Bobby Jones build Augusta National?

Because he was tired of playing in front of crowds. He wanted a sanctuary, and he always, from early in his career, had the ambition of building the world’s greatest inland golf course.

What would make the ideal golf course in his mind?

Well, it evolved over time. As he played around the world, he collected knowledge about all of the famous golf courses. He borrowed from these golf courses, the very best features. And of course he studied golf course architecture. He wrote about it. He discoursed on it. He talked to his pals who were golf course architects, and he believed that you never really mastered golf until you try to figure out what the architect had in mind when he built the golf course. That way you would be able to play the golf course correctly, the way it was intended by the architect.

What were the world class courses Jones borrowed from?

Late in his life, Jones said, If I were to be sentenced to play on one golf course for the rest of my life, it would be the Old Course at Saint Andrews. And the reason for that is the essence of golf is adventure, and the key to adventure is variety. A golf course that provides the most adventure and the most variety provides the most enjoyment because it presents a different challenge every time you play it. The ultimate golf course would never play the same way twice two days in a row because of weather, because of conditions, because of the playing partners. Because of the way that the course may be set up with flag positions, and just the seasons, and the way the grass grows. But with Saint Andrews, it provides the most variety of any golf course that Jones had ever seen.

Jones didn’t design Augusta National alone. Why did he take on a design partner?

He chose Alister MacKenzie because MacKenzie was a kindred spirit in this notion that the Old Course is the best golf course in the world. And MacKenzie understood it, the Royal and Ancient hired him in 1921 to do a line drawing and the first competent survey of the golf course that had been done. MacKenzie was in the Boer War early on and studied the art of camouflage. He could see that the Boers were digging trenches and building embankments to hide their guns. So you’d move your troops in thinking that you were out of range and they’d blow you to bits. So he copied some of those features of camouflage in some of his golf courses. He would put a bunker 30 yards from the green but trick you into believing it was the green side.

Sort of an optical illusion to play with the mind?

Yeah. You see that today, and of course you know. MacKenzie said when you play a golf course, you should envision yourself on the forecastle of a ship than on the heavy sea. And when you’re looking at the front of the ship, you see the waves crashing at you. You see the breakers, white caps. Those are bunkers. But when you look back behind the ship, you see the rolling sea and you see no white cap. It’s all green. And when you’re on a MacKenzie course, you can see that today.

What was MacKenzie’s more general design philosophy?

MacKenzie believed that many of the broad roads will lead to destruction, narrow is the way that leads to salvation. You should build a golf course with as much variety and as many options as possible. The USGA sets up an Open golf course that you’ve got to be a marching soldier right down the middle. You’ve got to hit your drive right straight down the middle, you’ve got to hit your shot straight on the green, and you’ve got one putt or two putt. If you stray to the right or stray to the left, it’s going to cost you a shot because you’re in rough up to your ankle and will break your wrist. What that does is make a very mechanical, unimaginative golfer, because straight, straight, straight, that’s all you do. MacKenzie spawned the strategic school of golf course architecture. The penal school of architecture was old-testament thinking — if you sin, you should be punished, and there is no forgiveness, there is no redemption. That’s the way it is. The strategic school of golf course architecture said wait a second. Let’s flatten some of these bunkers out, so with a heroic shot, you should be able to redeem yourself. But it’s got to be a heroic shot. So they at least give you a chance for forgiveness and it followed the reformation. It had a religious overtone to it. So a golf course provides the most enjoyment for the highest-skill player or the lowest duffer. And that’s the variety of the adventure. That’s beautiful.

You described Jones’ reason for building Augusta National, as he wanted a sanctuary away from the crowds. Then why create this tournament?

Everyone said that Bob Jones was insane for building a golf course during the Depression. Golf courses were folding, and Augusta folded twice. The fact is that he seized on the opportunity because of the piece of ground. Jones saw the piece of property and said, That’s it. We’re going to build my dream course on this piece of property. He said it looked like this land was lying there for years waiting for a golf course to be laid on it.

But (after building it) they folded a couple of times. So (the partners) decided, Let’s see if we can hold an invitation tournament and then invite all of Bob’s pals. Surely they’ll come. And Grantland Rice said, Well, I’ll help you out. All of the sports writers go down to the [Florida] Grapefruit League [for] baseball in the winter in Florida, and I’ll tell them to come back to Augusta and report on the tournament and maybe we can bring the gate up. They also told the British press, if you guys can make it to New York, we’ll put you on a train, put you up at the Bon Air Vanderbilt, and that’s how they got the British Press to come. Of course anybody who was anybody wanted to come play at Bob Jones’ first invitational tournament. Because Bob was a national and international hero. And so everybody showed up and the gate didn’t come in. So Alfred Severin Bourne had to reach into his pocket and come up with the $5,000 purse. Then in the second year, Gene Sarazen hits the shot heard round the world on 15 and makes, and all the sports writers go crazy, and so everyone wanted to go to the next tournament in ’36 to find out what in the world’s going on in Augusta. And that’s really what kicked it off. Jones initially thought it was somewhat immodest to call it the Masters, but in 1938, Jones said, I think that it has earned the right to be called the Masters, because it continues to assemble those who are entitled to call themselves the masters of the game.

In 1894 when the USGA was formed by the top half dozen golf clubs, amateur golf was on page one of the sports page. In Plato’s Republic the amateur athlete was the hero who was emulated by the populous. And that was true at the turn of the century. They did not have professional golf at that time. They had exhibitions. Walter Hagen was the first guy to make a living as a professional golfer in the late ‘20s.

And this is because it was viewed as being sort of undignified?

Well it was. Golfers were associated with caddies. They were not educated. They didn’t dress well. They were shagging the member’s wives. They were not allowed in the club houses. It was not looked upon as an honorable profession, and mainly because it was associated with gambling and drinking. One of the reasons Bob Jones retired in 1930 was he had more ambition than to be a professional golfer and he hated to travel. It was the horse-and-buggy era. They traveled by ship, they didn’t have private citation jets yet. It was horrible. And the biggest purses were a few thousand dollars, so, you might make a few hundred dollars. Jones had a profession. In 1928 he’s working as a lawyer for Coca-Cola, and all of the big companies wanted him as their lawyer so they could play golf with him.

So when the Masters first started, it was more of a social outing with Bob Jones to rub shoulders with Jones and all of his pals rather than a money-making thing. And it wasn’t until the later years that it became a major because of the publicity that it got, and because of the uniqueness of the golf course — a golf course unlike any other. And it continued to assemble those who were entitled to be called “the masters of the game.” Anybody who was anybody wanted to win Bob Jones’ tournament, the same way that [later] they wanted to win Arnold Palmer’s tournament. You always want to win the King’s tournament.

So I suppose we could say that the Depression sort of leveled the playing field in terms of the perspective people had on professional golfers. 

It did. Everybody had to be scrappy. Hagan was the paradigm. But Neilson, Snead, and Hogan, that triumvirate really kind of launched it. I mean, Snead goes over to Saint Andrews and he wins it in ’37, first time he ever saw it! Hogan goes over to Carnoustie in ’53, and he’s on his way, he’s won three, he’s on his way to win the grand slam, right? That he couldn’t make it back to play in the PGA was his problem. But he won Carnoustie the first time he ever saw it. So these guys became international superstars as professionals.

Later on The Masters becomes iconic — it transcends golf. It becomes an iconic sporting event. How did it become so popular?

Well, yes, the popularity became universal. People who did not play golf found that they enjoyed watching it on TV. Remember, golf was a rich man’s sport. In Great Britain, it’s a poor man’s sport. You know, it’s a common town, and everybody in town belongs to the golf course. And you don’t have to be rich to play it, the courses were public. Here they’re private, so only the rich guys could play it. But you didn’t have to play it, you could watch it, and it became extremely popular because it had this swash-buckling Errol Flynn–type character, Arnold Palmer, making these heroic displays of athleticism and looking fabulous.

But The Masters also became a singular tournament because Bob Jones and Cliff Roberts made it gentile. They made it fun for the spectators, and they raised the level of sportsmanship. In the ’60s when Jack Nicholas was overhauling Arnold, some spectators shouted out, “Miss it! Fat Jack.” Jones heard that, and he was terribly distressed. So he sat down, put pen to paper and he wrote out some suggestions for the spectators. They still hand it out today. It says, that, in the game of golf, etiquette and decorum are almost as important as the rules governing play. Most distressing are those rare occasions upon which a spectator will applaud or cheer misplays or misfortunes of a player. Although these occurrences are extremely rare, we must completely eliminate them if our patrons are going to deserve their reputation of being the most knowledgeable and considerate in the world. Now, that is a pretty high standard. But guess what? You don’t see anybody acting out. The patrons of the Masters are the most considerate and knowledgeable in the world.

Source: Men’s Journal

New study shows that golfers have been aiming wrong this whole time

Most golfers see where they want their ball to end and aim straight for it. Pretty straightforward. Others incorporate an intermediary target — a spot two feet in front of the ball in line with their distant target — and focus on both before they swing.

Which is better? Neither.

GOLF Top 100 Teacher Eric Alpenfels and Dr. Bob Christina, Emeritus Professor of Kinesiology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, conducted a recent study where they took 29 golfers of varying skill levels and instructed them to hit six shots each aiming three different ways:

  1. Looking only at a distant target.
  2. Looking only at an intermediary target.
  3. Then the traditional method of looking at both the distant and intermediary target.

They measured the results, and some rather interesting results amongst the golfers when they forgot about their distant target, and looked only at the intermediary target.

That’s right. Alpenfels and Christina found that, on average, golfers actually hit the ball straighter and just as far when they don’t look at where they want to hit it, and only focus on a spot about two feet in front of their ball. Their overall accuracy increased, as did their Smash Factor — a metric that can be used to measure the overall quality of strike.

Why? Because when a golfer looks at where they want to hit their ball, they don’t just see the green. They see the water, the bunkers, the trees — all the places they don’t want to hit their ball. That subconscious fear forces your mind into making last-minute overcompensations, the study found, which hurts golfers’ distance and accuracy. So, the next time you’re struggling to hit a fairway, pick a spot just in front of your ball and focus only on that. It could give your swing the freedom it needs.

Source: Golf.com

How A Doorframe Can Help Your Golf Swing

By Keely Levins
Learn how to turn back, not sway.
Let’s talk about hip turn. James Kinney, one of our Golf Digest Best Young Teachers and Director of Instruction at GolfTec Omaha, says that from the data GolfTec has collected, they’ve found lower handicap golfers have a more centered lower body at the top of the swing. Meaning, they don’t sway.
If you’re swaying off the ball, you’re moving yourself off of your starting position. The low point of your swing moves back when you sway back, so you’re going to have to shift forward to get your club to bottom out where the ball is. That takes a lot of timing, and is going to end up producing some ugly shots.
So, instead, Kinney says you should turn.
“When turning your hips, you are able to stay more centered over the golf ball in your backswing and the low point of your swing stays in the proper position, resulting in consistent contact.”
To practice turning, Kinney says to set up in a doorway. Have your back foot against the doorframe. When you make your lower body move back, your hip will hit the door fame if you’re swaying. If you’re turning, your hips are safe from hitting the frame.
Remember that feeling of turning when you’re on the course and your ball striking is going to get a whole lot more consistent.
Source: Golf Digest

Rules Guy: What happens if I lose the ball I just marked?

The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

After marking ball on green and picking up ball, golfer or caddie drops ball, which rolls into water hazard, not retrievable. Replacement ball of exact brand and kind not available. What is penalty and how to continue?
—EARL HUSBAND, ODESSA, TEXAS 

Ball lifted from putting green must be replaced. Must be exact ball. If not same ball, make/model no matter—substituting ball without authority under Rules. Two strokes or loss of hole is penalty. Also, One Ball Condition of Competition only encouraged for pros. Top-tier amateurs, too. Not for club play. Suggest: Grip ball tight!

Source: Golf.com

Take a ‘lie-detector’ test to improve your short game by Dave Pelz

BY DAVE PELZ
One of the things that separates Tour players from the rest of us is that the former are intimately familiar with their games. They know how different shots will unfold regardless of where the ball is sitting, especially around the green (where difficult lies abound). Not surprisingly, that’s where weekend players tend to cough up strokes.
There are four parts to every short-game shot. Failing in any area will almost surely lead to a poor result.
They are:
1. Judging the lie.
2. Selecting a club.
3. Predicting how the ball will react when it lands.
4. Executing the swing.
This article addresses the first — and perhaps the most important — part of the shot equation. If you can’t pull off good shots from bad lies, you’ll never reach your scoring goals.
In my opinion, the only way to develop this skill is through experience. Pros have the advantage of unlimited practice time, but you can begin to catch up with a simple three-shot experiment that I use in my schools. Its entire purpose is to open your eyes to the various backspin outcomes that can be created by the type of lie you’re facing.
For this “Backspin vs. Lie” experiment, you’ll need your lob wedge, a tee and three balls. Select a 20- to 30-yard shot around a green that forces you to carry a bunker but that provides plenty of room between the apron and the pin. Drop one ball into the rough, another into a normal fairway lie, and tee up the third so it’s about a half-inch above the grass (photo, above). The goal is to land all three shots in the same place on the green, about a third of the way from the edge to the flagstick. (Repeat any shot that misses the landing spot.)
Once you’re successful from all three lies, check the results, which should look something like what’s pictured in the photo at right. What you’ll notice is that the shot from the rough rolled out the farthest — the mass of grass that wedged its way between the ball and the clubface at impact killed most of the backspin. The shot from the fairway stopped short of the first, even though it landed in the same spot. That’s because you generated much more backspin due to the cleaner lie. And for the teed-up third ball, which had zero grass on the clubface to interfere with contact, you created max backspin and stopped the ball almost immediately after it hit the green.
Of course, you never get to tee up your wedge shots, but that’s not the point. What this exercise teaches is how lie effects spin, and that controlling spin is the trick to hitting short shots close. It’s an invaluable lesson. Try it from different distances using different wedges. The experience will turn you into a cagey vet in no time.
Source: Golf.com

If our presidents can take time to play golf, so can you! Here’s some presidential golf statistics.

We’re keeping it fun with some presidential golf facts!

  • Donald Trump
    Has won 19 club championships. Handicap Index reported to be 2.8
  • John F. Kennedy
    Despite chronic back pain, averaged 80.
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower
    Installed a green outside the Oval Office; member at Augusta National. Became friends with Arnold Palmer.
  • Gerald R. Ford
    Despite a clumsy image, a legitimate 80s-shooter. He also played with Arnold Palmer.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt
    At 39, polio robbed him of a powerful golf swing
  • George W. Bush
    His handicap reported to dip under 10, post-presidency. He gave up golf during his presidency at the start of the Iraq War.
  • George H.W. Bush
    Once got his handicap down to 11. Favorite exclamation on the course was “Power outage!” when putts fell short
  • Bill Clinton
    Can break 90, especially using his “Billigans”
  • Barack Obama
    The lefty plays hoops and golf, more than 330 rounds during his two terms.
  • Ronald Reagan
    Didn’t play often or well (best was low 90s)
  • Warren G. Harding
    Struggled to break 95
  • Woodrow Wilson
    Played over 1,000 Rounds in office but almost never broke 100. He even enlisted his Secret Service agents to paint his golf balls black so that he could practice in the snow.
  • Richard M. Nixon
    He shot 79 once and quit the game
  • Lyndon B. Johnson
    Played with senators to secure votes for the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Calvin Coolidge
    When he vacated the White House, he left his clubs behind

 

Sources: Golf Digest, Cheat Sheet

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s Why We LOVE Golf:

It’s not quite golf season across the entire country, but we do know that everyone across the country is thinking about golf, golf season, and just how much they love playing golf. Here we offer the 12 reasons we all love golf:

Golf promotes freedom on a playing field with few boundaries.

What other game is played on 200 acres or more? Baseball, softball, football and soccer fields all have defined, rigid lines. So do tennis and basketball courts. Ice rinks have walls. Nascar has fences. For goodness’ sake, bowling alleys have gutters, how intimidating is that?

Yes, in golf you’re supposed to play the holes where the short grass is, but it’s liberating to know that you do not have to. (And probably won’t.) You’ve got this immense open space to play in. Play the holes any way you choose — just meet us on the next tee afterward.

The gear is cool.

It’s amusing, entertaining and even educational to get lost in all of golf’s little details: the dozens of different clubs, a glove, a ball marker, tees, green repair tools, interchangeable spikes, custom grips, shaft flexes, head covers, rain gear, global positioning equipment. And then there are the nicknames for this inner society’s tools: big dog, flat stick, belly putter, cavity back, hosel, kickpoint, camber, off-set, niblick, mashie, brassie, bounce, flange. I doubt that even the C.I.A. has this much fun naming its secret paraphernalia.

Golf is serendipitous.

Where else can you get sand in your shoes, pond water on your socks, ketchup on your shirt, sweat on your cap, mud in the cuffs of your pants, blisters on your hands, a farmer’s tan and a frog in your bag? And like it. If you make birdie on the 18th hole, you will spend the rest of the day excessively explaining how you acquired all the sand, water, ketchup, sweat, mud, blisters, color and the stowaway frog.

Golf has the best views.

O.K., so some baseball stadiums have good views of city skyscrapers. The rare college football stadium will glimpse a pastoral campus. Our indoor arenas increasingly all look alike and now they are louder than an airport runway. If you fish, hike, surf or ski, maybe you have an argument on this subject, but compared with all the mainstream sports, golf has no equal in terms of the setting. There are hundreds of golf courses that jut into the ocean, hundreds more that wind through forests, hundreds more with majestic mountain views and hundreds more that flow through parkland valleys.

Stand on the 18th tee at Pebble Beach, a few feet from the Pacific Ocean with the spray from the waves landing softly on your shoulders, and you will never again wax poetic about the Citgo sign behind the Green Monster at Fenway Park.

Golf is played with a host of wildlife partners.

Deer, turtles, foxes, woodchucks, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, moose, beavers, trout, bass, hawks, blue heron, eagles, geese, ducks, robins, blue jays, toads, armadillos, turkeys, otters, gophers, lizards, butterflies and even alligators.

They come with the golf course for free.

Playing alone.

You’ve heard of runner’s high? Golfers have their own version and it takes place on an uncrowded golf course, walking quietly around the green landscape, proceeding at any pace you choose.

Arriving alone and joining another group.

A completely different experience, this is more like a blind date, but it almost always ends up better since it doesn’t matter if you ever see your newfound partners again. You meet the most fascinating people with this little leap of faith and you are witness to the most bizarre approaches to playing the game. Who needs reality TV? Just walk into a pro shop on a busy Saturday and announce you’re a single.

Looking for lost balls in the woods.

I’m always amazed what I find in the woods. Like one boat shoe. Why and how did that get here? I’ve found a pocket calculator. A hat and sunglasses. Maybe I’m watching too much “NCIS,” but I try to reconstruct the scene:

O.K., guy tries to hit his second shot from the woods but it strikes two other trees and lands in some swampy moss. Disgusted, he throws down his hat (sunglasses were on the brim). Still, he takes an awkward stance in the swamp and swats at the ball, which soars onto the green to land two feet from the cup. In his follow-through, however, he loses his balance and falls backward. Boat shoe sticks in moss and calculator falls from pocket. He doesn’t notice; he’s shuffling down the fairway to make that par putt.

Great sounds.

There is the crisp sound of a club face contacting the golf ball with no grass in between. The muted “thunk” of a well-played bunker shot. The soft, little plunk heard from the fairway when an approach shot lands on the green. The clatter of clubs in the bag bumping along the fairway, a practiced cadence of leisure on the move. There is the silence that follows a shot from the woods, the audio proof that your ball escaped without striking a tree. There is the sound of surprised, astonished laughter when you sink a 60-foot putt over hill and dale.

Auditory delights are par for the course.

Anyone can play golf.

It doesn’t matter if you are particularly tall or strong, all body types can succeed. Look on the PGA and L.P.G.A. tours, where the top golfers come in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t matter what part of the world you are from. Age doesn’t much matter, unless you want to be a touring pro. Even a lack of flexibility or athleticism can be counteracted with savvy and skill around the greens. Over the years, I have lost much money to the 60- or 70-year-olds at my home course who have the precision of surgeons from 100 yards and in. Just being a good putter will make you a good golfer. And who can’t putt a little white ball into a little hole?

You can, and should, play with your family or male and female friends.

The fact that men, women and children can play golf equitably on the same golf course is one of the game’s greatest benefits. It is the perfect blend of social event and exercise. And there’s something about golf’s humbling nature that brings everyone together. No one is immune from embarrassment, and that is liberating to the family dynamic.

The chance of a hole in one.

In what other game, in what other walk of life, can you perform something that in that moment is as good as it can be? The average person cannot go to a major league ballpark and hit a grand slam to win a game, but when the average person makes a hole in one, it is a shot that no one, not Phil Mickelson and not Jack Nicklaus in his prime, could have done better at that moment in that place. The chance of, and quest for, perfection is what keeps golfers coming back.

You gotta love that.

Source: NY Times

Make Valentine’s Day Un-FORE-gettable this year! Only TWO DAYS left in our online store sale!

Take advantage of our Golf Specials Online while they’re here! These are available now for purchase in our online store– FOR ONLY TWO MORE DAYS!

Our Suggestion:

Purchase the Player’s Card and save on golf every time you play this year!

10 Rounds of golf including cart for $249. Valid for the 2019 Season.

 

Putting with the flagstick in could be a mistake, new Golf Digest study from Cal Poly professor shows

The question over whether you should putt with the flagstick in has sparked plenty of debate. The one thing missing until now has been any real science.

Partnering with California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo professor Tom Mase, a Ph.D in mechanical engineering and a member of the Golf Digest Hot List Technical Advisory Panel, we sought to find out if it is in fact true that putting with the flagstick in is always better than not. While Mase’s research is preliminary, the takeaway is pretty clear: The benefits of the flagstick are at best inconclusive and may in fact prevent off-center putts from going in more often than they would if the flagstick were removed.

In other words, hold on to your DeChambeau.

(Bryson DeChambeau, you’ll recall, seemed fairly unequivocal in his assessment of golf’s new rule that allows players to leave the flagstick in while putting. He said in January at the Sentry Tournament of Champions: “After the testing we’ve seen, and what we just did out there now, absolutely, I’m going to leave it in. I’m going to do it until I can see that it messes me up. For the most part, we’ve seen it to be a benefit and not a detriment. That’s from anywhere.”)

Mase’s study, conducted at Cal Poly’s golf practice center at Dairy Creek Golf Course with help from men’s coach Scott Cartwright and women’s coach Sofie Aagaard, used a putting device called the Perfect Putter to roll putts at a speed slightly faster than minimum holing speed. (The theory being that holing speed, approximately two-and-a-half feet past the hole, is not affected by the stick being left in the hole.) The Cal Poly study examined straight and breaking putts that crossed the hole at the upper third, the middle of the hole and the lower third.

Mase released a video of the test conducted last week.

The results showed that with a breaking putt entering the hole from the low side, keeping the flagstick in prevents some putts from being holed. With the flagstick out, those putts are holed every time.

The study also showed that the coefficient of restitution for the flagstick is relatively low, and that direct impacts with the stick, regardless of the type, tend to stop the ball fairly quickly, helping it to finish in the hole every time at a speed that sends the ball five to seven feet past the hole. Further tests of the different flagsticks showed that fiberglass sticks—those most commonly used on the PGA Tour—were the most forgiving, but while multi-diameter and tapered aluminum pins rejected putts that otherwise would have been made, even the fiberglass pin caused more putts to have been missed than were made with the flagstick out.

Off-center flagstick strikes on the low side of the hole tended to shoot the ball off farther away, hence the problem with balls rolling toward the hole on the low side.

Still, for putts entering on the high side, leaving the flagstick in wasn’t such a sure thing, either. While nine out of nine putts were made with the flagstick out, each of the three types of flagsticks yielded less than perfect results for high-side entry putts. For the multi-diameter aluminum stick, there were only seven makes. Same for the common fiberglass flagstick. But for the tapered aluminum stick, it got worse: only two of the nine putts were holed. That’s a difference of 78 percent between flagstick out and flagstick in.

In an earlier test from a longer distance, Mase found that straight-in putts were made 100 percent of the time with both the flagstick out and the flagstick in. On low side entry, putts were holed 80 percent of the time with the flagstick out, but only 56 percent of the time with the flagstick in.

Mase, who will continue to run further tests on the flagstick-in/out question at Cal Poly’s golf practice center, found the testing results surprising, given the current attitudes some tour players have expressed.

“While the sample is very small on this data, I believe it represents well what is happening here,” he said. “Low-side putts will definitely be hurt by having the pin in. Putts entering the center will be made with or without the pin. High side entering putts is a little bit of a pin type dependent problem. However, high-side hole entry without the pin performs best.

“The results are intriguing and perplexing. At first, I bought into the pin helping always. But it is too easy to set up a low-side entering putt that is made 100 percent without the pin and not close to 100 percent with any of the three pins tested.”

Your move, Bryson.

Source: Golf Digest