According to golf historians, golf flags have been used in the golf game since 1875. A golf flag is a cloth attached to a flagstick or pin. Most courses color code their flags, and each color has a different meaning, as you will see below.
The most common golf flag colors include:
The main purpose of a flagstick is to indicate or mark the hole’s location. The flags are color-coded to specify the hole’s location on the green, be it at the front, back or center.
Another common method to denote the position of the hole is the placement of the flag on the flagstick. The flag can be high up on the pin, at the center, or near the bottom.
If you are a new golfer, it is important to know what the different colors mean, so keep reading to find out.
What do Different Flag Colors Mean on the Golf Course?
|Golf Flag Color||Meaning|
|Red||A red flag means that the hole is at the front of the green|
|Blue/Yellow/Black||A blue/yellow/black flag indicates that the pin is at the back of the green|
|White||A white flag shows that the hole is in the middle of the green|
Note that different colored flags can mean different things depending on the golf club. For example, some golf courses will color-code their flags to show how deep on the green a flagstick is to help players plan their approach shots better.
When you walk into a golf club, the best thing to do is to request the scorecard, which has a chart showing the flag colors and their meaning.
Another flag you might come across on the green is the checkered flag. A checkered flag on the fairway is a warning to alert players that a group has moved on.
How to Identify a Golf Flag
The standard dimensions of a golf flag are 12in by 12in, but the size can differ depending on the course.
Golf flags are made from cloth or nylon.
While flags can differ in meaning and size per course, the USGA regulates the flagstick.
The stick or pin must be circular in cross-section with a ¾ inch circumference so the golf ball can have enough space to drop into the cup. Additionally, the flagstick cannot be made from shock-absorbing material or any other material that can affect the movement of the golf ball.
What are the Uses of a Golf Flag?
Although there can be different colors and sizes, the various uses of flags on a golf course are similar. Here are some common uses of golf flags on the green.
1. To Mark the Target
The target on a golf course is the hole. A golf flag acts as a visual marker to a golfer for each hole to help aim their shot.
A player can be on the tee area or playing from the fairway. The flag helps them visualize the best path for the shot using fewer strokes.
2. To Indicate the Distance
Besides indicating the general location of the hole, a golf flag also helps a player know the pin position.
The different pin positions, front, middle, and back, significantly differ in yardage, which helps a player choose the right club for a hit.
Below is the distance indicated by different flag colors on the course. Again, the meaning can differ depending on the course you are playing.
|Golf Flag Color||Distance|
|Blue||A red flag indicates 200 yards from the center of the green|
|White||A white flag means 150 yards from the center of the green|
|Red||A red flag shows 100 yards from the center of the green|
3. They are Used as Marshal Flags
When a player does not have a clear view of the target during a golf game, a flag can be used to show the golfer when it is safe to play. This situation normally occurs during tournaments when there is a large crowd.
The people who monitor the game on the field are called marshals, and they use golf flags or hand signals to relay the message to golfers. The flag is mainly a warning sign for players not to launch their shots toward other golfers playing ahead of them.
Flag Etiquette on the Golf Course
If you are a frequent golfer, you have probably heard of the term tending the flag. There is a protocol to this action, and you need to know the rules, especially if you are a beginner. First, let us start with the definition.
Tending the flag in golf means that you, your caddie, or another player removes the flagstick after someone makes their putt.
Golfers can play with or without the flagstick next to the hole. The catch is that the person removing the flagstick has to know when to do it according to the rules of the game.
Before the rules were revised in 2019, a golfer would receive a penalty for not removing the flagstick. Remember is there to help you see the target, but after making your shot, someone needs to remove the flag to make it easy to line up your putt.
When to Tend the Flag
You can tend the flag at any point during the game, but it must be necessary. For example, when you cannot see your target clearly or have a long putt.
You can also tend the flag for another player when they request you to do it or when you suggest it, and they agree. Think of it as a form of courtesy to help other players out during the game as they would do the same for you.
Note that a player has to consent for the flag to be tended. Otherwise, leave the flagstick where you have found it. A player risks getting a penalty if they hit the flagstick after being tended.
Finally, when tending the flag, a ball can get pinned or fall into the hole. According to the rules, this counts as an in. If none of the above happens, the ball is placed on the lip of the hole, and the player must take another putt.