If there’s one thing we have learned about the new flagstick rule so far in 2019, it’s that no one knows exactly how effective it is. Except for Bryson DeChambeau, who announced this week that the debate is over, and the answer is clear.
This week during his press conference at the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic, DeChambeau claimed that putting with the pin in is “statistically proven” to be the superior option in virtually every scenario.
“Pin in, is an easy one. It’s statistically proven to be a benefit in 99 percent of situations,” he said. “Anything outside 10 feet I’m going to leave it in. If I accidentally hit it three feet instead of two feet past the flag, it will stay in the cup. It has a better potential of staying in the cup than with it out. So that’s on that one.”
But why keep the pin in for 99 percent of putts and not 100 percent? According to DeChambeau, the one situation that would cause him to remove the flagstick is when it’s causing a distraction.
“The only times where I’ll pull it out is where if the shadow is right in my line because the flag is moving or there’s too much wind and you can hear the flag, pull it back, not a big deal,” he said.
DeChambeau proceeded to put with pin in during his first round in Dubai, and it appears to have worked out nicely for the five-time Tour winner. He fired a six-under 66 Thursday to get within one shot of the lead.
The flagstick rule wasn’t the only rules change that DeChambeau talked about in his press conference. He explained that the change allowing players to repair spike marks on the green “doesn’t make sense fully yet” because golfers are still required to hit from divots in the fairway.
“The spike mark one intrigues me, just because it’s related to hitting a shot in the fairway and it goes into a divot, why is that not ground for repair just like a spike mark. Somebody damaged the fairway, not through natural, whatever. It was actually damaged by a player. So why is that not repairable? Why can’t you get relief from that?”
But he made it clear that rolling the spike mark rule back was not the answer: “I love tapping down spike marks. It’s great. It’s afforded me the opportunity to make more putts now because of it.”
DeChambeau begins the second round in Dubai at 3:20 a.m. ET on Friday.