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Rules of Golf

The USGA, in conjunction with The R&A in St. Andrews, Scotland, writes, interprets and maintains the Rules of Golf to guard the tradition and integrity of the game.The two organizations are joint authors and owners of The Rules of Golf and Decisions on the Rules of Golf.Through an agreement with The R&A, the Rules jurisdiction of the USGA includes only the United States, its possessions and Mexico.The latest version went into effect Jan. 1, 2012, with the next revision taking effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Golf Rule 17 - The Flagstick

THE FLAGSTICK: There is a lot of misunderstanding about how the flagstick is used.

DID YOU KNOW? the player can have the flagstick removed, attended, or held up before and during his stroke and the player can be anywhere on the course. In other words, a player's ball does not have to be on the green to have the flagstick attended.

AUTHORIZING ATTENDANCE: before a stroke if the flagstick is attended by anyone with the player's knowledge and without any objection, the player has been deemed to have authorized it. The person deemed to be attending the flagstick does so until the ball comes to rest. This is important as different penalties can occur with unauthorized attendance.

THE BALL MAY NOT STRIKE THE FLAGSTICK OR ATTENDANT: If the player's ball strikes the flagstick when attended, held up, or removed by an authorized person, or strikes the authorized attendant or anything carried by the attendant, or when the ball is played from the putting green strikes the flagstick in the hole (or unattended flagstick) the player Loses the Hole in Match Play, and receives a Two-Stroke Penalty in Stroke Play.

UNAUTHORIZED ATTENDANCE--(don't get in trouble being a nice guy) In MATCH PLAY--Loss of Hole is the penalty if an opponent or opponent's caddie attends, holds up, or removes the flagstick without the player's authorization or prior knowledge when a stroke is made or the ball in motion.

STROKE-PLAY--Two-Strokes is the penalty if a fellow competitor or the fellow competitor's caddie removes, holds up, or attends the flagstick without the player's authorization or prior knowledge while the player is making a stroke or his ball is in motion. If the player's ball is played from off the putting green and does strike the flagstick, attendant, or anything carried by the attendant the player does not receive a penalty but must play the ball as it lies.

NOTE--If the ball was played from the putting green and does strike an unauthorized attendant or anything he is carrying, the stroke must be cancelled and replayed.

BALL RESTS AGAINST FLAGSTICK: If the flagstick is in the hole with the ball resting against it, the player or an authorized person can remove or move the flagstick. If the ball falls into the hole in the process the player would be deemed to have hole out with his last shot. If the ball moves rather than falling into the hole when the flagstick is removed or moved, the ball must be placed on the lip of the hole without penalty.