What Does Pin High Mean In Golf?

When playing with more experienced players you may find them referring to “pin high”,  “hole high” or possibly even “flag high”. Perhaps you were too afraid to ask what they meant.

Unusually for golf, this phrase has a pretty simple definition. If someone says they finished “pin high” it just means that their approach shot finished roughly level with the flag. Basically, they are saying they managed to judge the distance correctly even if they didn’t quite get the direction right.

This isn’t an official golf term so you aren’t going to find it in the rules of golf compiled by the USGA/R&A.

While I have seen some people suggest that “pin high” means you finished roughly level with the flag but also within a flagstick length of the hole, I think the majority of golfers would just use “pin high”, “hole high” and “flag high” interchangeably.

What Is The Pin?

The pin is just another name for the flagstick or flag that allows you to identify where the hole is when you are far away from the green. 

Hitting It Pin High

Looking at the image below the grey shaded area would be considered “pin high” by most golfers when playing in the direction of the red arrow.

pin high
Pin high!

Hitting a lot of your shots pin high is a great skill to have since it means you are judging distance correctly and therefore it is likely you are making solid contact with the golf ball. Assuming your direction isn’t off by too much then it means you will be left with plenty of birdie putts.

Colin Montgomerie was renowned for hitting lots of his approaches “pin high” during his career.

Greens can vary greatly in their size and shape so sometimes being pin high and 30 feet wide of the pin will leave you with a putt. On the other hand, if the green is narrower or the pin is closer to the edge then you may be only a few feet out in direction and in a bunker or some other troublesome lie. So being “pin high” isn’t always that useful!

How To Hit It Pin High More Often

There are two things you need to do if you want to get better at leaving your ball “pin high”. The first and most difficult is grooving a consistent swing that allows you to hit specific distances regularly with each club.

If you are able to do this then the second part is a lot easier. Knowing the distance you need to hit allows you to pick the correct club based on the yardage and other factors such as the weather and the terrain.

If you are lucky enough to have a rangefinder then you can use that to get an exact distance to the pin. This makes your chances of hitting it “pin high” that much greater. If you’re playing in a well-organized tournament or at certain upscale venues you may be given a pin sheet on the first tee which gives you the hole locations for each green.

If you have a GPS device then that should tell you the distance to the front, middle and back of the green giving you a great indication of the yardage required. Some courses may employ different colored flags to help you as well. For example, red flags mean the front third of the green, yellow flags mean the middle third of the green and blue flags mean the back third of the green.

Other courses might implement a “mini flag” positioned on the flagstick to do a similar job. If the mini flag is positioned towards the bottom that means a front flag. If the mini flag is positioned towards the middle then that means a middle flag and at the top would suggest a back flag.

Using these methods you should be able to get within 10 yards of the actual distance required which is probably accurate enough for the overwhelming majority of golfers!

Now you know the yardage just swing away!

Looking to increase your golfing vocabulary? Check out the Cleek&Jigger golf glossary.

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