Rules Guy: Is it a penalty to accidentally hit the flagstick with your putter?

Bryson DeChambeau putting

The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

Now that it’s legal to putt with the flagstick in, is there a penalty if, on the follow-through of a short putt, the player’s putter makes contact with the stick? Does it make a difference if the ball goes in or not, or if it happened on purpose or not? What about on a practice stroke? I know some guys who do this, and I’d like to know what’s legal and what isn’t. —Bob Birch, via email

Rules Guy: Where do you drop a ball that carries a penalty area, but ricochets backward into it?
By: Rules Guy

The clank of a ball hitting a flagstick used to be as rare as hen’s teeth. Nowadays it’s as common as a chicken’s cluck.

Rules Guy can’t say whether the sound of a club hitting the stick is as compelling — it strikes us as more likely to unnerve rather than help — but he can say it is entirely legal, whether in a practice stroke or a real stroke.

Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to We promise he won’t throw the book at you.

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