"Quick, Move that Flagstick"

Have you ever had the embarrassing experience of putting the ball too firmly and having it roll right towards the removed flagstick lying beyond the hole? 

It has happened many times before and has resulted in penalties in the past. Some time ago, if I had yelled to you to “pick it up” and you did, you would have gotten the penalty and not me if you were my opponent or fellow competitor. That just didn’t seem right! 

Well, thankfully the Rules makers changed that Rule way back in 2008 but some people still don’t realize it. 

In Rule 24-1 – Movable Obstructions, you will find the following language:

“When a ball is in motion, an obstruction that might influence the movement of the ball, other than an equipment of any player or the flagstick when attended, removed or held up, must not be moved.” 

In layman’s terms, that means that after a player hits a ball, no player can move any man made object such as a rake or soda can, if it might alter the path of the moving ball. However, there are a couple of exceptions: equipment of any player or the flagstick when attended, removed or held up.

So if I hit my ball and it is heading right for your bag, it is OK for you to move your bag or any player’s bag for that sake. The same thing goes for a flagstick when it is lying on the ground; go ahead and move it and there is no penalty.

Let me also clarify that if the flagstick is in the hole when you hit the ball, it needs to be left there, unless it is being attended. If anyone pulls the flagstick out otherwise, that person would incur the appropriate penalty; loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play. If it is your partner or caddie that moves the flagstick, you will get the penalty.

Too many people have suffered the unfortunate consequences of this Rule in its former life. Thankfully, things have changed. Now as far as the player putting it too firmly getting off the hook, that’s a topic for another article! 

Remember, use the index or the table of contents to find the correct Rule that applies to the situation and follow the Rules of Golf to help yourself to enjoy the game of golf.

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