Golf, like many sports, has a lot of terms and phrases that may not make sense to beginners and those not familiar with the sport.
“Pin high” or “hole high” in golf means that the ball has been hit on an approach shot to the same distance of the flagstick (which marks the location of the hole). You can hit the ball pin high and still miss left or right of the hole but it means that you got the distance correct on your shot.
Like a lot of sayings in golf, “pin high” is more of a slang term than an official one. You won’t find the phrase in the rules of golf and it doesn’t have an official definition.
It’s basically one of those terms that have developed over the years so golfers can express this specific situation quickly.
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Hitting The Ball Pin High
Every putting green has different dimensions and shapes and the hole is somewhere on that surface. The hole in golf is marked by the flagstick or “pin.” Courses mark the hole with a pin so that you can see its location from hundreds of yards away.
Every golf shot you hit has two primary components to hit the target…distance and direction.
Golfers use the phrase “pin high” to indicate that an approach shot was well played in terms of distance. You can even say a shot was pin high when it misses the green altogether to the left or right but was struck the correct distance.
Why Is It Called Pin High In Golf?
The term “pin high” actually has nothing to do with height. However, in golf slang, the terms high and up are often associated with the concept of hitting the ball the right distance or, more specifically, hitting it far enough to get to the hole.
For example, you may have heard the phrase “never up, never in” related to putting.
The meaning of that phrase is that if you don’t hit your putt far enough to get to the hole, you’ll never have a chance of it going in the hole.
So you can see that in golf, the concept of height is often equated with hitting the ball far enough. In reality, you should think of it more in terms of depth or distance.
Why Is It Called A Pin In Golf?
The pin in golf is another name for the flagstick that marks the location of the hole. They are interchangeable and mean exactly the same thing.
The flagstick is sometimes called a pin simply because of its appearance. Especially when viewed from many yards away (which happens all the time in golf) the flagstick appears tiny and thin, much like a pin.
Golfers have a tendency to give slang names to just about everything in the sport and many objects or parts of the game have multiple nicknames or slang terms.
However, the term pin has been around long enough that is has become widely accepted and a regular part of golf language.
What Happens If You Hit The Pin In Golf?
Nothing. You play the ball from where it ended up.
Hitting the pin can be good or bad. Sometimes hitting the pin can cause a poor shot to stop right near the hole (or even go in) instead of flying past the pin and over the green. But other times, a nearly perfectly struck shot that would have hit the green close to the hole and stopped, can hit the pin and deflect in a different direction far from the hole.
Golfers sometimes refer to the good and bad luck that comes from hitting parts of the course as “the rub of the green.” That basically means that you take the good luck with the bad luck, deal with it, and move on.
Rule Change About Hitting The Pin While Putting
Prior to 2019, if you were putting the ball and it struck the flagstick (whether it was in the hole or laying on the green) then you were assessed a 2 stroke penalty.
This meant that you always had to remove the pin before putting your ball. You could also have someone hold the pin while you hit your putt if you needed it to see the hole and then remove it while the putt was on its way.
This led to ridiculous situations where the pin might get stuck and the person holding it couldn’t get it out before the ball got there resulting in a 2 stroke penalty for the player!
Thankfully, the rule was changed in 2019 so don’t worry. There’s no more penalty for striking the pin. However, it’s probably a good idea to at least check it because sometimes the pin may be leaning in a way that blocks the hole (in a strong wind for example).