The New Rule: According to the USGA, under Rule 13.2a(2), “There will no longer be a penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits a flagstick left in the hole.” Players will still have the option to remove the flagstick or to have someone tend the pin and remove it after the ball is struck.
Should you putt with the flag in?
As of the start of the 2019 calendar year, golfers of all levels can now putt with the flagstick left in the hole. Caddies can also take the flag out or have it attended – previously the only two options.
Why are players putting with the flag in?
Reasons for Change:
Allowing a player to putt with the flagstick in the hole without fear of penalty should generally help speed up play.
Can I hold the flagstick while putting?
Rule 13.2b(1) allows a player to make a one-handed stroke while holding the flagstick with the other hand. However, the player may not use the flagstick to steady himself or herself while making a stroke (Rule 4.3a).