As of January 1, 2022, players participating in PGA Tour events will no longer be able to use the controversial and highly detailed eco-reading books in their current form.
A long overdue decision to “return to a position where players and caddies use only their skills, judgment and feel” to read the greens was communicated in a player message and first revealed by Brian Wacker, Golf Monthly contributor on Twitter:
Upcoming changes to the PGA Tour yardage and greens books as of January 1, 2022. pic.twitter.com/GhgsXReUC3November 1, 2021
It’s important to note that, for now, this only applies to the PGA Tour, although it would be odd if the R&A and USGA didn’t do the same in the relatively near future.
The new local rule will require players to adhere to a “committee approved” distance book, which will present “only general information on slopes and other features” on each green.
While this is a welcome change, it will be difficult to enforce this latter restriction.
“Handwritten notes that might aid in reading the line of play on the green will continue to be permitted in the approved book,” the memo continued.
“However, these notes will be limited to those taken by the player or caddy and are to be derived from experiences or any observation of a ball rolling on a putting green. This includes observations from a television broadcast.”
This all sounds fair enough, but given that the majority of gamers will still have access to the old books, the next point seems like some kind of sticky box office.
“The transfer of earlier handwritten notes that also meet the restrictions in the approved book is permitted. No device, level, or other technology may be used to collect information for retention in the form of notes, and no information may be copied from any other source into the approved book. “
With the best will in the world, there’s no way every PGA Tour player’s distance book will be inspected to the nth degree to assess its legality. In addition, it will be almost impossible to determine whether a “handwritten note” has come from a new sighting or whether the information bank of touring regulars has been built up since the introduction of green reading books.
However, whatever the timing, it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction – a small one it is true – in bringing back an element of sensation and human error that makes our sport, and all sports, so entertaining.