Pin High in Golf: What Is It & Is It a Good Thing?

Like many other golf slang words or phrases, the term pin high is a shorter way to explain something that happens during a round of golf.

What is pin high in golf? Pin high is a golf shot that has traveled the correct distance to reach the pin or hole. However, it often means your shot wasn’t accurate. You could be 20 or 40 yards left or right of the pin and still be pin high. It’s often considered a consolation for an inaccurate shot, and you might say, “at least I’m pin high.”

Any golfer will want to know more about this golf term, so you can accurately describe your game to your buddies. I will break down this simple and commonly used golf term in this article.

Topics to be covered include:

  • What Does Pin High Mean in Golf?
  • Is Pin High A Good Thing?
  • Why Is It Called Pin High?
  • **Bonus** Should You Leave the Pin When Putting?

More from Golf Span: Golf Terms Every Golfer Must Know [Over 250 Terms!]

What Does Pin High Mean in Golf?

What Does Pin High Mean!?

Do you know your Golf Jargon & terminology?

Golf has a language all to itself, and one of those golf phrases is the therm, pin high.

When you hit a golf shot “pin high,” you have hit your approach shot or tee shot on a par three hole the correct distance to reach the flag or pin.

Initially, when someone says they hit it “pin high,” you might think, “Wow, that was a well-executed shot.” However, this term doesn’t refer to the accuracy of the shot, it usually describes a shot that is off the green and wasn’t that accurate.

Here are some other terms that are related to “pin high”:

  • Pin low: A shot in the right direction of the hole but one that lands short of the flagstick.
  • Green in regulation (GIR): A shot that lands on the putting green in regulation, meaning that it is within two putts of the hole.

Read more: Different Types of Golf Shots

Is Pin High A Good Thing?

Two senior golfers trying to judge how to play a shot out of heavy rough on a golf course.

Being pin high means you’re getting good distance, but still need to work on your accuracy. The object is to hit a shot the correct distance and in the right direction.

Here are a few examples of when being pin high is good.

  • On a drivable par four, and just off the green left or right of the hole.
  • On a difficult par three, with trouble in front and behind the green, but fairly open left or right.
  • On a long par five, anywhere from 30 or so yards left or right of the hole, with a good lie.

And, here are a boatload of situations where being pin high is not a good thing.

  • You are still in play, but miles away from the pin, left or right.
  • You are pin high left or right but in a greenside bunker, buried, and short-sided.
  • You are pin high left or right, but there is a pond there, and your ball is slowly sinking to the bottom of it.
  • You are pin high left or right, and it’s out of bounds there…that equals a stroke and distance penalty.
  • You are pin high left or right, and there are high-end houses that have massive, big-picture windows on them…and your ball is now in someone’s living room.

So, as you can see, being pin high is only half the battle!

A great read: How Do Pro Golfers Know Yardage?

Why Is It Called Pin High?

Caddy pointing at a hole on golf course

If a non-golfer or newbie golfer was asked what pin high meant, they might say something about the height of the shot hit. As you know, that is not the case.

The term pin high traditionally means that you hit the ball the correct distance without indicating the direction in which you may have hit it. Some golfers include being on or just off the green in their own personal definition of what pin high means. Even with that, there is still no indication of the proximity to the hole.

Another slang term often used that essentially means the same thing as pin high is “hole high.” It has the same meaning but is just a slightly different phrase.

“Pin low” is a term sometimes used, but not one I have often heard in my 40 years of playing and 27 years of working in golf. This term refers to a shot hit in the correct direction but is short of the pin.

Read on: The Best Golf Rangefinders (Reviews & Ratings)


Is It Better To Be Pin High or Pin Low?

In general, it’s better to be pin high than pin low. This is because you’ve traveled the correct distance to the hole, now you just need to work on accuracy. However, there are many exceptions to this rule. For example, if the pin is located in a difficult spot, such as a bunker or a slope, then it’s better to be pin low.

What Are the Differences Between Pin High and Hole High?

Pin high and hole high mean the same thing. They mean that your golf shot traveled the correct distance to reach the hole or pin, but isn’t necessarily accurate. Both are slang golf terms.

Should You Leave the Pin In When Putting?

In 2019, the USGA changed the rules of golf to allow golfers to leave the pin in while putting. This change was met with mixed reactions, with some golfers preferring to leave the pin in and others preferring to take it out.

At the onset of this debate, legendary short game and putting coach guru Dave Pelz and professional stars like Bryson DeChambeau and Adam Scott were on team “Pin In.” Many others fell into camp “Pin Out.”

The USGA states that there is no competitive advantage to be gained either way, but some golfers believe that leaving the pin in can help them make more putts. Others prefer to take the pin out because they are concerned about hitting it with their ball.

I feel that leaving the pin in is the right call after reviewing the studies for leaving it in and those that call to remove it.

Here are some more considerations:

  • The type of flagstick can make a difference in whether to leave it in or take it out. Some flagsticks are more solid, thicker, and less likely to move, while others are more flimsy and thin.
  • The wind can also be a factor. If the wind is blowing hard, it is more likely that the ball will hit the flagstick if it is left in.
  • Your ball speed will be another factor. At medium and faster ball speeds, your ball is more likely to hole with the flagstick out.
  • If you play in a tournament, you should check the rules to see what the governing body prefers. Some tournaments require that the pin be removed, while others allow it to be left in.


In this episode, we're getting straight to the point of whether or not you should leave the flagstick in or pull it out.

Final Thoughts

Let’s sum things up on this topic; you should indeed strive to hit shots pin-high! AND you should also strive to hit shots the correct distance as well. It is as simple as that.

For the golf newbie or even a more seasoned golfer that may have never heard the term “Pin High,” consider this article your primer on the topic.

Brendon is Class A PGA Professional and founded Little Linksters, LLC, and its nonprofit arm, the Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development. He won 25+ prestigious industry honors, including the 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development Award. He graduated from the PGA of America Management Program and has a handicap index of 7.8.

He has played golf for over 40 years and currently plays twice a month at the Eagle Dunes Golf Club near Sorrento, Florida. He loves Srixon clubs and plays a ZX5 driver with Z 585 irons. He's written over 60 articles on GolfSpan and specializes in sharing tips to improve your golf game. You can connect with Brendon at LinkedIn, X, IG, FB, his website, or

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