This Ryder Cupper putts with the flagstick in. Should you?

Fitzpatrick leaves the pin in because it helps him feel comfortable, says his putting coach.

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HAVEN, Wis. — It was a putt to win the hole, so Matt Fitzpatrick was careful in studying its details. He walked around the hole, lined up his putt, and just as he stepped towards his ball, his caddie gently placed the flagstick back into the hole before retreating to his bag.

A few seconds later, Fitzpatrick rolled his ball in to join it.

Matthew Fitzpatrick, putting with the flagstick in.

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Putting with the pin in is something golfers of every level have been openly wondering about since it became legal in 2019. It briefly vaulted into the mainstream in 2020 amid pandemic-altered norms, and at the Ryder Cup this year, European Matt Fitzpatrick is still leaving the flagstick in on the greens. (Other players, including Bryson DeChambeau, keep the flagstick in on longer putts but take it out from close range.)

The answer of whether it helps remains unresolved. Dave Pelz has been a vocal supporter of putting with the pin in, and a number of different players, notably DeChambeau, have tried it in an attempt to glean an advantage. But few people who tried it have stuck with it, and chalked it off as a negligible advantage — if any at all.

Does Fitzpatrick know something we don’t?

Matthew Fitzpatrick at Whistling Straits.

Luke Kerr-Dineen

According to his putting coach, Phil Kenyon, the motivation is emotional.

“He tried it during a round at the 2019 Open Championship and had a great putting day, so he stuck with it,” Kenyon says. “It’s psychological. Almost superstition, but it makes him feel comfortable, and that’s the most important thing.”

Kenyon says the three tenets of good putting are speed control, green-reading, and starting your ball on line. There’s technique involved, obviously, but you need to feel comfortable in order to help you do those things. And if leaving the pin in helps you feel comfortable, you’ll make more putts. And that’s all that matters.

Luke Kerr-Dineen Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.