Pin flags: Design and keepsakes

Olympia Fields pin flag
The Olympia Fields pin flag features four wings representing the original four courses at the club.
By Andrew Prezioso
PGA.com

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 | 12:12 p.m.

When you go to a golf event, what’s your go-to souvenir? For a lot of people, it is a commemorative pin flag.

We talked to Sam MacKenzie, director of grounds at Olympia Fields Golf Club, Olympia Fields’ pro shop and Justin Mengel, the 2015 PGA Championship director, to get more information about pin flags. And this is what we learned.

Design

Olympia Fields: There have been a few different variations of the flag featuring the club’s logo, but the ones currently in place feature the club’s original logo. The decision on which ones to use went to MacKenzie, and it came down to personal taste. The original logo features four wings to represent the four courses Olympia Fields originally had before some debt during World War II forced the club to sell some of its property, MacKenzie said.

PGA Championship: Each year brings with it a new flag design to create what Mengel called a “personalized flag” for each tournament. Part of the annual change is applied to the PGA Championship logo to keep up with the PGA’s brand strategy. For instance, this past year’s pin flag featured some argyle elements to it, which could also be seen in all the PGA Championship advertisements and other material.

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Length of use

Olympia Fields: The club replaces the pin flags once per year. The old ones are usually a bit faded and tattered, and they get put out to the driving range. After a year there, they are usually discarded.

PGA Championship: The flags get swapped out once per tournament, usually after the second round depending on the weather. Sometimes, an extra set is used before the event for special events like media day. The used flags – except for the one on the 18th green, which is given to the winner -- are given as a gift to either PGA Championship staff, members of the host club or grounds crew.

Purchase

Olympia Fields: Pin flags are most commonly sold in nine packs, so MacKenzie will purchase three packs for an 18-hole course. Those extra flags are necessary in case any of them get stolen or damaged, or are awarded as a memento to a golfer who hit a hole-in-one on that hole.

PGA Championship: Two full sets of pin flags for the 18 holes are ordered from a its long-time supplier, a company called Standard Golf at a price of roughly $16 per flag. The order will usually be placed in the late spring for that year’s tournament.

Sale

Olympia Fields: The pro shop ordered 250 pin flags, featuring a different variation of the course logo, to sell to golfers for around $30 in 2014. So far, the shop has sold 200 of those flags. But with the course set to host next year’s U.S. Amateur Championship, the shop will increase its inventory.

PGA Championship: The average number of commemorative pin flags sold is about 10,000 per year. They are identical to the ones used on the course and are often used for collecting autographs or framing. They have always been one of the more popular keepsakes for spectators.

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Andrew Prezioso is a contributor for PGA.com. Have a good golf story? Send him an email at andrew.prezioso@turner.com.