Among the most popular golf course accessories are the golf course flags. Placed on the top of the flagstick, the first recorded use of a golf flag was in 1987. However, it also widely accepted that there was likely flag usage prior to this date but because it was not regulated, it was not considered official.
Flagsticks themselves have regulations that they must conform too to keep a standard across all courses and areas of play. They may not be more than ¾ of an inch in circumference and must be circular in cross section. It may not be covered in any material that may deflect the ball or be padded in a way that would not allow the ball to enter the cup, thus finishing the round for that player. While flagsticks are mainstream, flags are actually not required to be placed on top but many courses have adopted them to give golfers a better visual target.
Over time, the flags have become organized by color in a way that gives golfers the best idea of where the hole is located on the green. Generally, a yellow or blue flag indicates that the hole is towards the back end of the green, the furthest away from the tee. A white flag indicates that the hole is in the middle of the green and a red flag signals that the pin is at the front of the green. Each of these different positions and colors allows for the golfer to plan out their clubs in a way that will allow them to achieve the fewest strokes possible.
Although these colors are considered the most common, it is important to ask when playing a new course what the color flags they use and their appropriate markers. Some courses change the flag colors to mark an important event or if you are traveling internationally and going golfing (lucky you!) it is always worth making the ask. Don’t let yourself be confused when you step on the course only to have planned your shot entirely wrong. If you are going to hit the driving range, make sure you have the right driving range equipment to keep you in shape.