Green reading books banned on PGA Tour starting Thursday in Hawaii

Rest in peace, reading green books.

At least it’s for tournament use on the PGA Tour. These paperback books containing very detailed illustrations and used on the Tour since 2008, join those of George Orwell 1984, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Gatsby the magnificent, and JD Salinger The catcher in the rye among the famous forbidden books.

Unlike those once controversial literary classics, green reading books have helped players detect the directions in which putts break and the percentage of slope in different sections of the greens. The ban became official on January 1 and goes into effect Thursday during this week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Tour veteran Kevin Streelman, who has used the books religiously in recent years, was a member of the 16-member Tour Player Advisory Council, which unanimously voted in May that the books should go. He explained why the move was initiated by the players, noting that he didn’t like the optics on TV of seeing players’ noses buried in the books as they determined a putt break.

“I think green reading is a skill of the game,” he said. “It’s pretty cool technology that probably jumped at us quickly and everyone thought it was time to get a handle on it.”

“It got out of hand for a while,” Davis Love III said. “At the 2016 Ryder Cup, you had people sneaking around with machines, pulling on the pins and putting them on 8 × 12 paper. It’s just a little too much technology. Yes, technology is involved in just about everything: range finders, GPS, pointing and all that sort of thing. But we have to be careful that it doesn’t turn into a computer game here. “

The pullback began in 2018 when the USGA limited the size of the books to 4½ x 7 inches, at the scale at which 3/8 of an inch on the pound would equate to five yards on the green. This legislation was deemed too soft by several leading players. The purpose behind restricting green reading books is to ensure that players and caddies only use their eyes and sensations to help them read the line of play on the green. Critics say the books offered too much help. Or, as former world number one Luke Donald said, “We shouldn’t be given a book with all the answers. “

“It’s not much of a benefit, it’s just taking away a skill that takes time and practice to master,” Rory McIlroy, president of the PAC, said at the US Open in June. “I think playing the greens is a real skill that some people are better at than others, and that just negates that advantage that people have.

“Honestly, I think it made everyone lazy. People don’t take the time to prepare like they used to.

Rory McIlroy examines his distance log on the fifth green during the second round of the Tour Championship golf tournament at East Lake Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

But they will now, and so will their shopping carts. Scott Sajtinac, who currently works with Brandt Snedeker, estimated he would spend an additional 5-10 hours per week on the greens rolling balls to collect so much detail on putting surfaces without using electronic equipment ( no level or measuring device is allowed). Expect to see an increase in the number of players and caddies using the AimPoint green reading method.

In a rare case, the USGA and R&A followed the players’ lead and approved a local rule (MLR G-11) in December that allows a committee to limit players to using only the distance book. which it has approved for use in competition. .

Local rule gives the Tour the ability to establish an officially approved distance book at each tournament so that the diagrams of the greens show only minimal detail (such as steep slopes, levels or false edges that indicate sections of greens). In addition, the local rule limits the handwritten notes that players and caddies are allowed to add to the approved distance book.

“Am I glad this is going away?” Yes, ”said Matt Kuchar. “I think it’s good for the game that they are leaving. I don’t think the game was meant to be broken down so scientifically.

Justin Rose, who tends to be more the scientist than the artist, noted that he has won an equal number of tournaments with the Green Reading Book as he did without it and doesn’t expect it. that his inability to have the information at hand will make a big difference.

“I’m not counting on it. I used it as a quick guide, “he said, adding” that there are ways for me to keep using it and the concepts and strategies without it. I will use it again in my preparation in my hotel room.

Jordan Spieth, who is known as one of the Tour’s deadliest putters, had become an avid user of the books in recent years, but he was also among the PAC members who voted for the ban. Speaking ahead of the Sentry Tournament of Champions, he said he was not too worried about losing access to what had become a sort of safety blanket on the greens, noting that Augusta National Golf Club did not didn’t allow them and that he had a pretty good track record there, including a green jacket from 2015.

Jordan Spieth examines his distance log on the first green during the final round of the US Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

“It looks like I’m in a really good space on the greens there, really feeling the putts,” he said. “I’m the one who’s used (the green books) because why don’t you use them?” More for a point of reference and a lot more for speed than trying to dial in an AimPoint or line situation, so I’m fine with the changes.

“I think for me to put you have to read it correctly, you have to hit it and you have to hit it with the right speed. I thought that with the green reading material it took away one of those three skills and I think it’s a skill that I would say is a benefit to me and so I’m excited to see what that can do. mean in relation to strokes gained in relation to the field on the greens.

Talor Gooch, who won the RSM Classic, the last event on the Tour where books were allowed, used a green reading book on his way to his first victory but said he was happy to see them disappear.

“It takes me away from my instincts and my skills,” he said. “It will be good not to have almost another voice in my head and I think that will set me free.”

Perhaps Max Homa offered the best reason why pros shouldn’t miss green reading books too much: “I don’t use green reading books because if I did, I couldn’t blame my younger when I miss. “

Steve DiMeglio contributed reporting for this story.

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