One of the main rule changes which came into force in 2019 affects putts – the flag may now be left in the hole when putting. However, this has led to controversy as to whether the flagstick is more of a help or a hindrance to holing the ball.
In an empirical study, our rules guru Yves C. Ton-That (author of the global bestseller “Golf Rules Quick Reference”) made 1,000 standardized putts; 500 putts with and 500 putts without the flag. And the findings were clear-cut. If the pin is not leaning towards you, leaving it in the hole always helps to hole the ball. Furthermore, a positive side effect has also been identified – balls that are not holed come to rest significantly nearer to the hole if the flag has not been removed. And last but not least, leaving the flag in the hole saves 15-20 minutes per round – however, only if all the players in the group handle it in the same way, otherwise it may even slow down the game.
And if you want to handle any other rules issue in section, grab this handy guide: Rules Reference