Justin Thomas isn’t a big fan of Bryson DeChambeau’s coefficient of restitution argument when it comes to leaving the flagstick in the hole while putting.
Under the modernized Rules of Golf, which took effect on January 1st, Rule 13-2a states “if you make a stroke with the flagstick left in the hole and the ball in motion then hits the flagstick, there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies.”
Thomas, speaking before this week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions said that he “wouldn’t be able to take (himself) seriously” if he were to putt with the flagstick in the hole.
“Personally, I don’t think I can,” Thomas said. “I mean if I have an 8-footer to win a golf tournament, no offense, I can’t really take myself seriously if I kept the pin in. I mean it just would be such a weird picture and like on TV me celebrating and the pin is in and my ball’s up against it.
“I guess there’s some instances in tournaments where the pin is really the only thing that can stop it — that’s one thing — but if I have a putt I’m trying to make that thing’s coming out.”
Patrick Reed echoed Thomas’ sentiment during his pre-tournament press conference as well, saying, “I don’t know how many times I’ve putted on the putting green and I have the flag in and it’s like there’s an, it’s like a shield around the hole, it never goes in. But if I pull it I mean I’m all of a sudden the ball goes in the heart. So I particularly don’t like putting with the flag in.”
Reed did go on to say that for unusually long putts, keeping the pin in while he putts could be beneficial from a depth perception perspective, but he wouldn’t utlize the rule change on shorter putts.
That seems to be the common theme among the Tour pros who have spoken about the new flagstick rule so far with the obvious and intriguing exception of DeChambeau who again reiterated this week what he said in November of 2018.
“It depends on the COR, the coefficient of restitution of the flagstick,” DeChambeau told Golf.com late last year. “In U.S. Opens, I’ll take it out, and every other Tour event, when it’s fiberglass, I’ll leave it in and bounce that ball against the flagstick if I need to.”
DeChambeau said in Maui that winds could cause the flagstick to be shifting slightly inside the hole, but assuming there’s not much wind effect on the pin, his exception will be the rule for the majority of the field, including his playing partner on Thursday, Dustin Johnson.
“It’s going to be weird because the flag’s going to be going in and out a lot. But it’s all right,” Johnson told GolfChannel.com’s Rex Hoggard. “If you got a real long putt or something I might leave it instead of having the caddie stand there and tend it. So I guess I will leave it in occasionally.”