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What Does “Attending The Flag” Mean In Golf? – Explained!

what is attending the flag in golf
what is attending the flag in golf

Golf is known to be a technical sport full of expressions and technical terms that you may not know the meaning of. One of those expressions often thrown out in conversation and television broadcasts is the expression “Attending The Flag”.

If you are reading this article, you may wonder: What exactly does “Attending The Flag” mean in golf?

In this article, we will explain to you exactly what it means to “Attend The Flag” in golf, along with an example to solidify your comprehension.

What Does “Attending The Flag” Mean In Golf?

In golf, if a person is attending the flag, it means they are holding the flagpole out of the golf hole while the active golfer putts the ball. Having someone attend the flag prevents the golf ball from bouncing off the flagpole when it otherwise would have entered the hole with a well-played putt.

In the great game of golf, the expression “Attending The Flag” is an expression that is common to hear in golf, on golf courses and on television broadcasts. Most golfers have heard of the expression “Attending The Flag” before, as it may come up in any golf round.

When you hear the expression “Attending The Flag”, it will generally on putting greens, as golfers attempt putts planned to go directly into the golf hole. A synonym of “attending the flag” is “tending the flagstick”.

In golf, “Attending The Flag” is the act of pulling the flagstick out of the hole and holding it while a golfer putts the ball towards the hole. Pulling the flagstick out of the hole prevents it from impeding the ball’s movement into the hole.

In fact, there have been many times where professionals and casual players alike have made a great putt towards the hole, only for the ball to bounce off the flagpole, keeping the ball out of the hole. This unfortunate situation inflates a player’s golf score, and can even lose you a tournament!

For this reason, attending the flag can be very useful for your golf ball to have the full width of the golf hole available for entry. On the other hand, you are allowed to leave the flagpole in and attempt a putt.

You can putt a golf ball with the flag removed from the start. On the other hand, if you cannot see the hole anymore, you can ask someone to keep the flag in, and remove it as soon as you strike the ball, giving you the best of both worlds.

When can you ask someone to attend the flag for you? Anytime, from anywhere on the golf course. You can always ask another player, or a caddie to attend the flag for you, although it usually is only useful near the putting greens, when the golf ball has a high chance of entering the hole.

Down below, you can read an real-world example of “Attending The Flag”.


Joe and Brad are two friends playing golf.

On hole #9, Joe is getting ready to make his final putt on the putting green.

Not wanting to risk hitting the flagstick, Joe calls out: “Hey Brad! Could you please attend the flag?”

Brad nods with a smirk and puts his hand on the flagpole, waiting for Joe.

With the flagpole in, Joe knows where to aim. Right after striking the ball, Brad attends the flag by pulling it out of the hole.

The ball rolls straight in the hole! It might have bounced out were the flag not attended!

In the example above, you can see how a good putt that would normally enter the hole may hit the flagstick and stay out, if the flag is not attended. Not attending the flag can lead to an increased golf score, and frustrating plays.

Attending the flag is a golf protocol that remains valid for both professional and casual golf, and is useful in both settings.

Although people are not required to attend the flag for you if you request it, it is common courtesy in golf to attend the flag. However, when you request someone to tend the flagstick for you, make sure it is actually useful, and you are not constantly asking when it is not required.

After pulling the flagpole out of the hole to attend it, the attender can lay the flagpole down outside of the putting green to not have to hold it. When attending the flag is complete, the attender must insert the flagstick back into the golf hole, as it was before.

The origin of the expression “attending the flag” is fairly simple. “To Attend” something means “to be present at something or for something”. In this case, “attending the flag” comes from the idea that someone is present at the location of the flagstick in order to intervene and remove it should the need arise.


There you go! After reading this article, you have learned exactly what the expression to “Attend The Flag” means in golf. You also got to read an example to further improve your understanding of the meaning of “Attending The Flag”.

Do you have any other words you wish to know more about? Do you prefer the older or the newer “Attend The Flag” distance? Let us know in the comments down below!

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