It’s been 13 months under the latest version of the Rules of Golf as jointly promulgated by the R&A and the USGA. Have you familiarized yourself with the changes yet? They clarify things like what aids are allowed during covered rounds (see our posts on laser rangefinders and GPS devices). They have also changed the rules about play on the green. Rule 13.2 a.(1) states, “There is normally no penalty if a ball in motion hits the flagstick.” And (2) “No Penalty If Ball Hits Flagstick Left in Hole.” This change is designed mainly to speed up play.
The good folks over at PitchFork Golf have a nifty new take on the venerable ball retriever you’re accustomed to seeing on the practice greens. But they’ve made significant improvements to the original. That little dish will usually get three balls out without incident, and you tip them out to putt again. But out on the course, that isn’t how it works. With nothing added to the stick, a thoughtful player removes their ball by hand. A “clever” one tries to fish it out with the toe of their putter or yank out the flag to pop it up into the air. Neither is efficient, and both risk damage to the lip of the hole. Kenny McPartlin, the owner of PitchFork Golf and creator of his patented solution, weighs in.
Golf Cup Caddie
Introducing the Golf Cup Caddie: a smart take on the ball retriever aid. The well-designed shape holds three balls at the bottom but positions them to cradle the fourth snugly on top. After everybody has holed out, the last player lifts the flag, plucks their ball off the top and serves the rest to his partners.
The benefit is mainly to speed up play, but it also reduces traffic right at the hole. Only one shoe-print at the end rather than all the activity of retrieving the flag and getting each ball saves the integrity of the turf from that dreaded donut you often see as foot traffic mashes a ring around the hole. A useful added feature is a tapered edge and its ability to slide up the flagstick as the flag is replaced: lip damage is less likely to happen.
This isn’t the only solution in this new space, but it seems to be an elegant one. We’re curious to hear from our readers about their experiences and thoughts. Leave a comment: have you played a course with something like this in use? Do you see it as a helpful aid to play? Do you putt out with the pin in place now that the rules allow it? Would you recommend it to your local course as an aid to play?
Our thoughts were immediately positive when Kenny showed us his latest invention.
Launch: March 2020
PitchFork Divot Tool
Also on display was McPartlin’s previously released PitchFork Divot Tool. Designed around the idea that the effort of bending over to repair divots on the green is too much for some people, whether it’s because of age, mobility issues, or just plain laziness. This tool makes it so you can repair ball marks without having to do anything more than poke at the ground with the device — no bending or squatting down required. It comes with either a black or a blue shaft and has an option for being personalized.
McPartlin was kind enough to give us a couple to try for ourselves, so keep an eye out for a review of the PitchFork soon.
To learn more about Pitchfork Golf and their products, visit them at pitchforkgolf.com.
I’m a retired Boomer and lifetime golfer. I never got particularly good but have always loved the game. I’ll be an occasional contributor of mostly ‘adjacent’ content. I make observations about life from the perspective of the rear-view mirror. A voice of experience more than of expertise. Decidedly the junior staff. More color commentary than product expert. I’m amazed how far the game has come while still being essentially unchanged in a hundred years: a vehicle for challenging yourself to excel, improve and practice honorable behavior. In other words, build character. Brian’s dad — Donald Burt.