February - 2010

If you've followed golf for a long time, have you ever watched anything like what Phil Mickelson did on the last hole at Torrey Pines? I sure haven't. On the 18th hole with the tournament on the line, with less than 100 yards and needing an eagle to tie, Phil instructed his caddie to go to the green and attend the flagstick! Wow, think about that. And he almost pulled it off! Rule 17. The Flagstick, covers this uniquely interesting move by Phil.

I don't know if you are aware of who Kevin Heaney is. If you look up the Southern California Golf Association, he is the Executive Director. I became good friends with Kevin during my years with the SCGA, and he was kind enough to come down to San Clemente last year and be my partner in our Member Guest tournament. When I met Kevin he was the Director of Rules and Competition, overseeing all the tournaments held by the SCGA. On a national level, he is one of the top experts on the Rules of Golf in the United States. Kevin later became Director of Course Rating, (also one of the top raters in the country) before eventually moving into the Executive Director position. Why the long explanation? Well, let me tell you a story.

Mr. Heaney, (as I like to call him, because of his various creative names for me), years ago, taught me an important lesson about using the proper terminology when referring to this game we call golf.

Do you ever say " Hey, please attend that pin for me will you!" Well, I did, and still fight the urge to use to use the term "pin". As Kevin politely pointed out to me one time "Mr. Duesler, it's called a flagstick, and nowhere in the Rules of Golf do they refer to a "pin". "That term is most often used for bowling."

Because Phil Mickelson was attempting to hole his shot from the fairway, having the flagstick attended to help identify the position of the hole, the flagstick in this instance must be removed.

17-1. Flagstick Attended, Removed or Held Up

Before making a stroke from anywhere on the course, the player may have the flagstick attended, removed or held up to indicate the position of the hole. If the flagstick is not attended, removed or held up before the player makes a stroke, it must not be attended, removed or held up during the stroke or while the player's ball is in motion if doing so might influence the movement of the ball.

Note 1: If the flagstick is in the hole and anyone stands near it while a stroke is being made, he is deemed to be attending the flagstick.

Note 2: If, prior to the stroke, the flagstick is attended, removed or held up by anyone with the player's knowledge and he makes no objection, the player is deemed to have authorized it.

Note 3: If anyone attends or holds up the flagstick while a stroke is being made, he is deemed to be attending the flagstick until the ball comes to rest.

(Moving attended, removed or held up flagstick while ball in motion - see Rule 24-1.)