In or out? The science that goes into making a golf flagstickFebruary 28, 2019 Rules of Golf
James Buckholt makes flagsticks. The managing director of British Manufacturing Solutions talks to Steve Carroll about how he does it and technology of putting a ball in the hole
How is a golf flagstick made? Probably a bit further down your list of questions – behind, notably, are you flag in or flag out when putting? It’s been the subject on many golfers’ lips since the new Rules of Golf – allowing players to putt with the flagstick in the hole while on the green – came in at the start of the year.
The change was designed by the R&A and USGA to speed up the game. But it soon took on a life of its own on the professional tours.
We’ve had Bryson DeChambeau talking about co-efficients, Tiger Woods experimenting with it and conflicting surveys on whether it’s beneficial to have the pole in or out to hole a putt.
James Buckholt, the managing director of British Manufacturing Solutions in Luton, makes pins that are used by clubs and at top tournaments all over the world.
So who better than to get the defining word on one of golf’s hottest topics at the moment?
You make flagsticks…
We make a lot of flagsticks, or flag pins depending on where you are. You’ve got US and UK versions and that denotes the diameter of the ferrule that goes in the cup.
The cup has to suit the type of flagstick and there are so many variations that the two don’t always fit together that well.
So having a matching pair is quite important. The important piece is the diameter of the hole – four-and-a-quarter inches – as the ball is dropping into that.
The cup is set one inch below the surface and the pin, which sits in the ferrule in the centre, has generally been a quarter-inch piece of fibreglass.
That has been around for as long as I’ve known – and I’ve been doing this for 20 years.
How is a flagstick made? It comes out looking almost like toothpaste.
But there have never been any rules as such, for the diameter of the flagstick, because it never interfered with the hole. You put it in and you took it out.
Some people set up a thicker one – 5/8 flagsticks – and that would have a problem with the new rule because the ball may well hit the flagstick and be obstructed so much it can’t drop in.
If it’s fibreglass in its raw state, then it is also a hard material and, technically, the ball could bounce off.
Some people paint the flagstick. We don’t. We cover it with a plastic protection and that is for a couple of reasons.
It is to protect players against the fibreglass as it will splinter and you end up with shards in your hands if you are not careful.
The quality of the fibreglass can be improved to minimise that but you’ll generally end up with a grubby looking flagstick unless you coat it in something.
The coating can add a diameter to the flagstick. That can vary depending on the type of protection used but, again, it’s pretty minimal as to what it would do to affect play.
We manufacture flagsticks from the raw material upwards.
What do you use for that?
We use fibreglass. There are a very few select clubs that might want a wooden flagstick and we do a few of those. You could use metal, or another material, but generally fibreglass is very strong and flexible and it can withstand a lot of abuse.
In general, the wind moving it would fatigue another material. If it was metal it would break.
There seem to be different sizes and thickness of flagstick…
We have a tournament, or javelin-style, flagstick. We machine that in a way where the bottom section, which is about 300mm, is still half inch. So even though the main pin you are holding onto could be thicker in the centre, the bottom piece still maintains enough space for the ball to drop in.
So how is a golf flagstick made? Find out on the next page…