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

Bryson DeChambeau putting

Bryson DeChambeau putts with the flagstick in at the 2020 WGC-Mexico Championship.

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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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