THE FLAGSTICK: GENERAL
Attachment to Flagstick to Indicate Position of Hole on Green
Q.A thin disc or sleeve is attached to the flagstick to indicate the distance of the hole from the front of the green. If the disc is placed near the bottom of the flagstick it means that the hole is at the front of the green; if it is placed near the top of the flagstick it means that the hole is at the back of the green. Is this permitted?
A.Yes, provided the attachment is circular in cross-section.
Different Colored Flags Used to Indicate Position of Hole on Green
Q.May a Committee use flagsticks with flags of two different colors, one color being used when the hole is at the front of the green and the other when the hole is at the back?
Flagstick Tapered or of Varying Diameters
Q.May a flagstick be tapered or have a slender metal ferrule at the base?
A.Yes. The Definition does not prohibit sections of varying diameters. The Definition requires that the flagstick be circular in cross-section. This is to prohibit non-circular features in the lower part of the flagstick.
Reflector on Flagstick
Q.To aid in the use of distance measuring devices, a course has reflectors on its flagsticks. However, the reflectors are not circular in cross-section. Is the use of such reflectors permissible?
A.Yes. The use of small non-circular reflectors is an exception to the requirement in the Definition of "Flagstick" that a flagstick and any attachment to it must be circular in cross-section.
• 8-1/2 Exchanging Distance Information.
• 14-3/0.5 Local Rule Permitting Use of Distance-Measuring Device.
• 14-3/0.7 Player Obtains Distance Information Measured with Electronic Device.
Adjustment of Flagstick; Player's Rights
Q.A player playing from off the putting green and wishing to leave the flagstick in the hole may find that the flagstick is leaning towards his ball (a disadvantage) or away from his ball (an advantage). What are the player's rights in such a situation?
A.As the player is entitled to play the course as he finds it, the flagstick may be left as it is. Alternatively, the flagstick may be centered in the hole, as contemplated by the Definition of "Flagstick."
The flagstick may not be intentionally adjusted to a more favorable position than centered. To do so would infringe Rule 1-2 (Exerting Influence on Movement of Ball or Altering Physical Conditions).
An opponent or fellow-competitor who centers the flagstick incurs no penalty, but the player may have it restored to its original position. (Revised)
Ball Lodged in Flag Attached to Flagstick
Q.A player's ball lodges in the flag attached to a flagstick. What is the procedure?
A.A flagstick is a movable obstruction and Rule 24-1 applies. However, in taking relief the player may not place the ball in the hole. Therefore, in equity (Rule 1-4), the player must place the ball on the lip of the hole when taking relief.
Hole-Liner Pulled Out by Flagstick Attendant and Ball Falls into Unlined Hole
Q.A flagstick attendant removes the flagstick and, in the process, pulls out the hole-liner. The player's ball rolls into the unlined hole. What is the ruling?
A.The player incurs no penalty and the ball is holed. A hole need not contain a lining – see Definition of "Hole."
Ball Strikes Hole-Liner Pulled Out with Flagstick
Q.A player played a stroke from the putting green. The ball struck the hole-liner, which had stuck to the bottom of the flagstick and had come out of the hole when the person attending the flagstick removed the flagstick. Is there any penalty?
A.No. A hole-liner is an outside agency. Accordingly, if the hole-liner was moving when the ball struck it, the stroke is canceled and the ball must be replaced – Rule 19-1b. If the hole-liner was not moving, the ball must be played as it lies – Rule 19-1. In case of doubt, the ball must be played as it lies.
Attendant Removes Flagstick Whereupon Knob Falls from Top of Flagstick and Deflects Ball
Q.After a player putts, the flagstick attendant removes the flagstick and a knob attached to the top of the flagstick falls off. The knob strikes the player's moving ball and deflects it. What is the ruling?
A.Once detached the knob was no longer a part of the flagstick. It was an outside agency. Therefore, the stroke is canceled and the ball must be replaced – Rule 19-1b.
Other Decisions related to Rule 17: See "Flagstick" in the Index.
FLAGSTICK ATTENDED, REMOVED OR HELD UP
Meaning of "Stands Near the Hole"
Q.Note 1 to Rule 17-1 states that, if anyone "stands near the hole," he is deemed to be attending the flagstick. Is such a person considered to be standing "near the hole" if he is close enough to touch the flagstick?
Opponent or Fellow-Competitor Declines to Attend Flagstick
Q.Does a player have any redress if he requests his opponent or a fellow-competitor to attend the flagstick for him and the opponent or fellow-competitor declines?
Flagstick Attended by Referee, Observer or Marker at Player's Request
Q.A player requests a referee, observer or marker to attend the flagstick and the referee, observer or marker does so. Is the player subject to penalty?
A.A referee or observer should not attend the flagstick – see Definitions of "Referee" and "Observer." However, a player incurs no penalty if he makes such a request and the referee or observer complies.
A marker may attend the flagstick even if he is not a fellow-competitor.
Flagstick Attendant Stands Behind Hole
Q.May a person attending the flagstick stand directly behind the hole, instead of to the side of it?
A.Yes. A flagstick attendant might have to stand behind the hole to avoid standing on the line of putt of another player.
Flagstick Attendant Removes Flagstick and Holds It Upright Behind Hole; End of Flagstick Touches Green
Q.A player preparing to putt asks his caddie to attend the flagstick. The caddie removes the flagstick from the hole and holds it upright two or three inches directly behind the hole, with the end of the flagstick touching the putting green. He attends the flagstick in this manner to eliminate the risk of the flagstick sticking in the hole. Is such a procedure a breach of the Rules?
A.No, but such a practice is not recommended because of the possibility of damage to the putting green.
Holding Flagstick with One Hand and Putting with Other Hand
Q.A player holds the flagstick with one hand and holes a short putt, gripping the putter with his other hand. Is this permissible?
A.Yes, provided the flagstick has been removed from the hole and the ball therefore does not strike it. If the ball were to strike the flagstick, a breach of Rule 17-3a would occur.
• 14-3/9 Player Putts with One Hand and Steadies Himself with Club Held in Other Hand.
Opponent or Fellow-Competitor Attends Flagstick Without Authority But Ceases Attendance on Instruction of Player
Q.While a player is preparing to play from near the putting green, his opponent or fellow-competitor attends the flagstick without the player's authority or prior knowledge. The player makes the stroke, looks up and sees the flagstick being attended. While the ball is in motion, the player tells the opponent or fellow-competitor to leave the flagstick in the hole and step away, which he does. What is the ruling?
A.Since the unauthorized attendance might have influenced the movement of the ball, the opponent or fellow-competitor was in breach of Rule 17-2. The opponent or fellow-competitor does not avoid the penalty under Rule 17-2 by ceasing his attendance of the flagstick.
In match play, the opponent loses the hole (Rule 17-2).
In stroke play, the fellow-competitor is penalized two strokes and the ball is played as it lies. If the player's ball strikes the flagstick, the player incurs no penalty (Rule 17-2).
Flagstick Attended by Opponent or Fellow-Competitor Without Authority While Player's Ball in Motion
Q.A player plays from just off the putting green with the flagstick in the hole. While the ball is in motion and still 20 yards from the hole, an opponent or fellow-competitor, without the authority of the player, removes the flagstick as he mistakenly believes that the player will be penalized if his ball strikes the flagstick in the hole. The ball comes to rest five yards short of the hole. What is the ruling?
A.Under Rule 17-2, the opponent or fellow-competitor is penalized if the removal of the flagstick might have influenced the movement of the ball. The determination as to whether there is a reasonable possibility that the removal of the flagstick might have influenced the movement of the ball is made by reference to the situation at the time the flagstick was removed.
In this case, since the flagstick was removed before it was possible to know what the result of the stroke might be, and since the intention of the player making the stroke was to get the ball as close to the hole as possible, at the moment the flagstick was removed it was reasonably possible that its removal might have influenced the movement of the ball. Therefore, the opponent loses the hole in match play or the fellow-competitor incurs a penalty of two strokes in stroke play for a breach of Rule 17-2.
If a flagstick is removed, attended, or held up without authority by an opponent or fellow-competitor while a ball is in motion, but at the time of the action it is not reasonably possible that the ball will reach the hole or, having gone past the hole, will return to the hole (e.g., as a result of the slope of the putting green, wind, etc.), there is no breach of Rule 17-2.
BALL STRIKING FLAGSTICK OR ATTENDANT
Holing Out Without Ball Touching Flagstick
Q.A player plays a stroke from the putting green without having the flagstick attended. The ball stops momentarily on the lip of the hole and then falls into the hole. The player claims that the ball fell into the hole without striking the flagstick and therefore he incurs no penalty under Rule 17-3. Is the claim valid?
A.No. A ball is not holed until it is at rest in the hole – see Definition of "Holed." If the flagstick is in the hole, it is impossible for a ball to come to rest in the hole without striking the flagstick.
Opponent or Fellow-Competitor Attending Flagstick for Player Fails to Remove It; Player's Ball Strikes Flagstick
Q.A's ball lies on the putting green. A requests B, his opponent or fellow-competitor, to attend the flagstick, and B complies. A putts and B fails to remove the flagstick. A's ball strikes the flagstick. What is the ruling?
A.If B failed to remove the flagstick for the purpose of causing A to incur a penalty, B is disqualified, in both match play and stroke play, under Rule 33-7 for taking an action contrary to the spirit of the game. In stroke play, in equity (Rule 1-4), A must replay the stroke without penalty.
If B's failure to remove the flagstick was with the intent to influence the movement of A's ball (e.g., for the purpose of preventing A's ball from going beyond the flagstick), B is in breach of Rule 1-2, and loses the hole in match play or incurs a two-stroke penalty in stroke play, whether the ball strikes the flagstick or not. In stroke play, if the ball struck the flagstick and as a result A suffered significant advantage or disadvantage, then the Committee could consider B to have committed a serious breach of Rule 1-2, the penalty for which is disqualification. Whether or not B has committed a serious breach of Rule 1-2, in stroke play, if A's ball struck the flagstick, in equity (Rule 1-4), A must replay the stroke without penalty – see Note 2 to Rule 1-2.
If B's failure to remove the flagstick was not deliberate (e.g., the flagstick stuck in the hole-liner or B was distracted and did not see A putt), since B was acting on A's behalf, A incurs a penalty of loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play under Rule 17-3. A must play the ball as it lies. B incurs no penalty.
• 1-2/0.5 Serious Breach of Rule 1-2.
• 1-2/1 Line of Putt Altered Purposely by Opponent or Fellow-Competitor by Stepping on It.
• 16-1b/3 Ball Lifted from Putting Green; Ball Replaced While Another Ball in Motion Subsequently Deflects Ball.
• 16-1b/4 Ball Lifted from Putting Green by Opponent or Fellow-Competitor While Player's Ball in Motion.
• 19-1/5 Ball Deliberately Deflected or Stopped on Putting Green by Fellow-Competitor.
Ball Strikes Flagstick Lying on Ground
Q.Generally, the player's ball must not strike the flagstick when removed from the hole (Rule 17-3). What is the ruling in the following situations:
- (a) A player putts too strongly and his ball strikes the flagstick which has been removed by someone in his match or group and placed on the ground behind the hole.
- (b) A player plays his second shot to the green and the ball strikes the flagstick, which had been blown down by the wind and was lying on the ground.
- (c) A player, not believing he can reach the green which is occupied by the preceding match or group, plays his second shot at a par-5 hole and the ball rolls onto the green and strikes the flagstick which has been removed from the hole and placed on the ground by someone in the preceding match or group.
- (a) The player incurs a penalty of loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play under Rule 17-3a.
- (b)&(c) No penalty is incurred. Rule 17-3a is not applicable in either case. It applies only when the flagstick has been removed with the player's authority or prior knowledge by someone in the player's match or group.
Flagstick Attended by Partner Without Express Authority of Player; Ball Strikes Flagstick or Partner
Q.In four-ball play, A is preparing to play from off the putting green. B, A's partner, attends the flagstick without A's knowledge or express authority. A plays and his ball strikes B or the flagstick. What is the ruling?
A.If the flagstick is attended by the player's caddie, his partner or his partner's caddie, i.e., by a member of the player's side, it is deemed to be attended with the player's knowledge and authority.
Accordingly, in match play A is disqualified from the hole (Rule 17-3b), but B incurs no penalty (Rule 30-3f).
In stroke play, A incurs a penalty of two strokes and must play the ball as it lies (Rule 17-3b), but B incurs no penalty (Rule 31-8).
Flag Struck by Ball When Flagstick Attended
Q.While the flagstick was being attended, a player's ball struck the flag attached to the flagstick. Did the player incur a penalty under Rule 17-3a?
A.Yes. The flag is part of the flagstick.
Marking Position of Hole with Club
Q.The flagstick has been removed. A wants the position of the hole marked but he does not want to waste time retrieving the flagstick. So A asks B to place the grip end of his putter in the hole. Is this permissible?
A.Yes, but a putter used to mark the position of the hole must be treated as a flagstick for the purposes of applying the Rules.
BALL RESTING AGAINST FLAGSTICK
Ball Resting Against Flagstick Lifted Before Being Holed
Q.A player's ball is resting against the flagstick, but it is not holed because all of it is not below the level of the lip of the hole. However, the player, believing the ball is holed, picks it up. What is the ruling?
A.The player incurs a penalty stroke under Rule 20-1 for lifting his ball without marking its position. The player must replace the ball against the flagstick and may then apply Rule 17-4.
• 30-3f/3 Player's Ball Resting Against Flagstick Lifted Before Being Holed; Others in Match Pick Up Mistakenly Believing Player Won Hole.
Ball Resting Against Flagstick; Putt Conceded and Ball Removed Before Player Can Remove Flagstick
Q.In a match, A plays a stroke from off the green and his ball comes to rest against the flagstick. B, A's opponent, concedes A's next stroke and removes A's ball. Despite B's concession, is A entitled to have the ball replaced to enable him to exercise his rights under Rule 17-4?
A.Yes. When A's ball was resting against the flagstick, Rule 17-4 applied and A was entitled to have the flagstick moved or removed to see whether the ball would fall into the hole. B had no right to remove the ball and concede the next stroke until A had had an opportunity to proceed under Rule 17-4. By removing A's ball, B was in breach of Rule 18-3b and incurred a penalty stroke; A should then have replaced his ball against the flagstick and applied Rule 17-4.
Ball Resting Against Flagstick Moves Away from Hole When Flagstick Removed by Opponent or Fellow-Competitor
Q.A player's ball is resting against the flagstick. Without the player's authority, his opponent or a fellow-competitor removes the flagstick and the ball moves away from the hole. What is the ruling?
A.In match play, the opponent incurs a penalty stroke and the ball must be replaced against the flagstick (Rule 18-3b).
In stroke play, the ball must be replaced against the flagstick without penalty to anyone (Rule 18-4).
In either form of play, the player may then move or remove the flagstick as prescribed in Rule 17-4.
Ball Resting Against Flagstick Moves Away from Hole When Flagstick Removed by Player; Ball Not Placed on Lip of Hole
Q.A player's ball is resting against the flagstick. The player removes the flagstick and the ball moves away from the hole. The player plays the ball from its new position, holing the putt. What is the ruling?
A.The player was required to place the ball on the lip of the hole (Rule 17-4). In match play, the player loses the hole – Rules 17-4 and 2-6.
In stroke play, the player incurs a penalty of two strokes and the ball is holed – Rules 17-4 and 3-5.
Other Decisions related to Rule 17-4:
• 16-2/4 Ball Overhanging Lip of Hole Moves When Flagstick Removed
• 16-2/5 Ball Overhanging Lip of Hole Moves and Strikes Flagstick During Removal of Flagstick