New flagstick designed to monitor slow play

USGA hopes new flagstick will eliminate slow play from the golf course.

Last week one of golf’s governing bodies, the USGA held a Pace of Play Symposium and among the things discussed was this innovative flagstick designed to monitor golfer’s pace of play.

In summary, the flagstick contains a sensor that detects when it goes in and out of the hole. This signal is sent via a transmitter to a central computer where course marshalls can monitor the pace of play of all the groups on the golf course.

USGA’s Technical Director Matt Pringle answered a series of questions on slow play and elaborated on the new device, with the hope of testing it out early next year.

In the hole is a magnet and at the bottom of the flagstick is a sensor. So it can detect when the flagstick comes in and out of the hole. That signal then goes up into a little computer inside the flagstick. There’s a little GPS unit in there that tells us where the flagstick is and there’s a radio transmitter. That data can be sent back to a central computer, but the beauty of this is it can also talk to the next flagstick. The range doesn’t have to be very far. It just has to get to the next flagstick. Just like Google is measuring the flow of traffic, this is telling us the flow of golfers. For those golf courses that don’t have a sophisticated GPS system or where you don’t take carts and walk, this is going to give them a cost-effective way to get the measurement they need to have control of the golf factory.

Reportedly, the system recognises if the flag has been removed and put back if it is taken out before someone reaches the green, for example. If it works, this is a great idea and should flush out the slow golfers – but of course it will be up to the clubs (or tours) to decide what to do with them.

The USGA have provided this snazzy pdf to explain how the pace of play flagstick will work. I’ve added it as an image below. Click to embiggenate.

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