One of the COVID-19 measures undertaken for golf has been to “raise the cup” so the ball doesn’t drop all the way down to the bottom. That allows the flagstick to remain in the hole untouched while providing easy ball retrieval.
Golf courses have been raising the cups in a number of ways. The two most common: putting the cup liners into the hole upside down, and cutting the cup normally and putting a pool noodle inside the hole.
Personally, I’ve now played it both ways several times and it seems the pool noodle setup works better.
In fact, if the pool noodle is cut to allow the top of the ball to go down equal to or just below ground level, the ball almost always stays in the hole. (Maybe not on the fly; I personally haven’t witnessed that scenario yet.)
The upside down cups are steel or hard plastic and have three posts that stick up. All of those hard pieces create more bounce-outs. Additionally, the flagstick is stiffest at the bottom, which makes hitting it less forgiving under that setup. And the crown on the metal fitting that goes into the hole in the cup could be a factor if the ball hits that rounded piece, too.
At The Quarry Spring Scramble on Saturday, the golf course used the upside down cups. That led to three different bounce-out discussions at the scoreboard.
Because it wasn’t 100% certain that the ball hit the bottom of the cup in all three cases, none of the three were awarded a hole-out. All of the players who suffered the questionable bounces took it well, as everyone was laid back and just happy to be outside in the sunshine. But it might not always be that way.
The best solution seems to be a pool noodle placed inside a normal-depth hole, cut so the top of the pool noodle is at least 1.68 inches deep from ground level, or even a fraction deeper. Then the rule can be that the ball must come to rest inside the hole to count as a hole-out. End of debates.
[PUBLIC SERVICE SIDE NOTE: Raising the cup liner up above ground level then having players tap the raised cup with their ball to count as a “hole-out” is not golf. Please, superintendents, don’t force anyone to spend their time in great the outdoors this spring under those circumstances. Thank you.]