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At its core, golf is one of the simplest sports ever created. Get the little white ball in the hole in fewer strokes than your playing competitors, and you win. Easy enough, right?

Well, the USGA complicated the game a bit by making 30 changes to the Rules of Golf a few years ago. One of those rules changes allowed players to keep the flagstick in the hole while putting on the green, and although it didn’t cause many problems on the PGA Tour, golf legend Gary Player calls it the “worst rule ever invented.”

PGA Tour players can putt with the flagstick in the hole

Back in 2019, the USGA added more than 30 changes to the Rules of Golf. Some were major alterations to the way the game is played on a professional level, and some were just minor tweaks. One of the most controversial changes was Rule 13.2a(2), which allowed PGA Tour players to keep the flagstick in while putting on the green.

“There will no longer be a penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits a flagstick left in the hole,” the rule states. The main goal of the rule change was to speed up play. “Allowing a player to putt with the flagstick in the hole without fear of penalty should generally help speed up play,” per the USGA.

Players such as Bryson DeChambeau and Matthew Fitzpatrick have taken advantage of the flagstick rule change in recent years, but most golfers prefer to pull the pin before putting. There hasn’t been much blowback from the change because it’s not harming those who want to putt the old-fashioned way, but Gary Player isn’t a fan.

Gary Player hates the “worst rule ever invented” in golf

Gary Player looks on during the PNC Championship.
Gary Player looks on during the Thursday pro-am before the 2022 PNC Championship at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club | David Cannon/Getty Images

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Player’s professional career dates back to the late 1950s, so it’s safe to say he still has that old-school mentality when it comes to the game of golf. The nine-time major winner is all for speeding up play in today’s game, but he doesn’t believe leaving the flagstick in to putt is the answer.

“I think the worst rule ever invented is leaving the pin, the flag in the hole,” Player said last month, per “You get these guys with their big hands, and they go to take the ball out of the cup, and they squeeze their hand in between the cup and the flag. They pull the cup up, and every cup you play now is raised.”

The argument for leaving the flag in the hole is that a putt has a better chance of dropping when traveling at a higher speed. That’s nonsense, according to Player.

“They tell you you’ll hole more putts hitting the flag. That’s hogwash,” he said. “The greatest putters in the world never ever left a flag in a hole. And they were as good as putters as you’ll ever find today. The whole idea is to save time. It doesn’t save time. I’m all in favor of everything you can do to save time, but get the flag out. That’s my opinion.”

You heard the man. Get the flag out!