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That’s it – I’ve had enough! Time to rethink golf’s flagstick dilemma

It's been lovely back playing golf again, hasn't it? Well, you can always rely on the Angry Club Golfer to find faults
 

Just lately I’ve been channelling my inner Adam Hadwin. It’s the awkward little ones that are finishing me off – the breaky four-footers you’ve got to creep into the side door.

The hands have always shaken a bit more with those when a card has been on the line. These days they’re completely scattering my mind.

Hadwin, if you’ll remember, not only threw the toys out of the pram but emptied out his golf bag and chucked it in a pond just before the PGA Tour season resumed.

His beef? The flagstick.

“Are we not going to be allowed to touch pins, or flags?” he said. “I putt with the flag out, so if we all of a sudden are going to be forced to putt with it in to not touch a flag, I’m going to have issues with that, and that might make me honestly rethink playing, because it changes everything.”

Having been wedged into my house for more than a month when these comments first set social media alight, this kind of whining did not truck much sympathy.

At that point, I’d have given ANYTHING to play golf again. The flagstick was a trifle. And Hadwin, of course, relented.

However.

After my 17th bounce out since we got permission to roam the course once more, is it wrong to say I’ve started to feel some empathy with his view?

Now before you start – and by the looks of Twitter this clarification is already coming a little too late for some of you – I’m not saying we should be able to touch up the flagstick again.

Even I understand the wider issues at play. Hello, it’s a pandemic.

Does that mean, though, that we need to settle for what we’ve got? In my case, a pole that looks like it was designed to run up a small tent and not hold an itty-bitty piece of fabric with a number on it.

In life, bigger is almost always better – except when it’s blocking your route to birdie like the mainmast on a ship.

I applaud Haydock Park’s efforts to bring the flag back into play (sanitise both before and after is the basic premise) but it only takes one idiot and I’ll be spending 14 days in self-isolation.

flagstick

No, the answer is right there in front of us. I read with envy the piece detailing the slimline flags being employed by Woodhall Spa, and used to such praise during the recent English men’s and women’s Amateur Championships.

I almost wrote them a cheque on the spot.

At the risk of descending too far down the rabbit hole of flag porn, everyone wins with this.

We can respect the rules, protect ourselves and everyone else from Covid, and hole a few putts at the same time.

And, god knows, I need to do a bit more of that.

Do you agree with the Angry Club Golfer, or is 14 days the minimum punishment he deserves for these views? Let him know in the comments. You can also tweet him.

Follow NCG on TwitterFacebook and Instagram – and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for the latest equipment and golf course reviews and exclusive interviews.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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