AUGUSTA, Ga. — Masters fans who are tuning into their first golf of 2019 this week may get a visual surprise when they see players putting with the flag in on the greens. And Jordan Spieth isn’t sure they’ll like it.
Spieth addressed the issue on the debut episode of Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz’s SiriusXM show. Stoltz asked the 2015 Masters champ if he expected a lot of players to putt with the pin in this week, given the speed of the greens.
“Absolutely,” Spieth said. “I think you’ll see them leave it in. I think it is going to look pretty weird the first couple of years.”
Golf fans have had time to get used to players leaving the pin in for long putts, though most still pull the flag for shorties. But at a course as iconic as Augusta National, it will be a particularly striking look. Above all, this: what happens if the tournament’s finishing moment comes on a pin-in putt?
“If you come down to the 18th hole and you’ve got somebody hitting a 15-footer with the pin in doing a fist pump, it’s just going to be bizarre,” he said.
Francesco Molinari became the first player to hole a tournament-winning putt with the flagstick in when he canned a 44-footer to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational last month. But if Bryson DeChambeau, the Godfather of this generation’s pin-in putting mafia, is facing down any length putt on the 72nd hole come Sunday, that pin is staying firmly in place.
For his part, Spieth sounded like he’s not a big fan of the rule for professional golf.
“I like the rule for your everyday recreational golf that you play at a country club…but, for us, I think it is kind of an eyesore at least to start, you know, until people get used to it.”
The rule took effect on Jan. 1, 2019 under the new rules of golf. DeChambeau declared his intentions to GOLF.com, making it clear he spotted an advantage to leaving the pin in. Contingent on the C.O.R. (coefficient of restitution) of the flagstick, he expected to leave the flagstick in its spot for most putts.
“The USGA’s gonna have to go back on that one,” he told GOLF.com “Like, ‘No! We made the hole bigger!'”
There will be far bigger drama taking place on Sunday at Augusta National, of course. But keep an eye on the flagstick.
You can hear Spieth’s complete radio interview here.
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