The PGA Tour took a big step towards banning green reading books on Monday when it sent out a memo to players and caddies outlining the details of a proposed new rule. According to the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Golf Digest, the new tournament rules, currently under development by the USGA and R&A, will be presented to the PGA Tour Advisory Board on November 8, if they are. approved, and will come into effect on January 1.
The purpose of the rule, according to the note, is “to return to a position where players and caddies use only their skills, judgment and feel as well as any information gained through experience, preparation and training. handy for reading the line of play on the green. “
The memo gave a four-point overview of the ban, telling players that they and their caddies could only use “committee approved” distance books for tournament rounds. These books will resemble the yardage books used on tour today with one main difference: they will “only provide” general information on slopes and other features “for the greens. This differs from the green reading books that won in popularity, which use laser renderings of the greens to indicate precise pauses in each section of the putting surface. To ensure that everyone uses a committee-approved book, players will not be allowed to use books printed for PGA Tour events prior to 2022.
The most interesting, and perhaps the most complicated, part of the memo reads: “Handwritten notes that could help read the line of play on the green will continue to be permitted in the approved book.” However, such notes will be limited to only those made by the player or caddy and should be derived from experiences or from any observation of a rolling ball on a putting green. This includes observations from a television show. Transfer of previous handwritten notes that also meet the new restrictions in the approved book is allowed No device, level, or other technology may be used to collect information to be kept as notes, and no information may be copied from one source. other source in the approved book.
The note also confirms that a player can use approved books and handwritten notes to help read a line of play on the green and for other strokes during the round – a notable inclusion given that green reading books have long been cited as a cause of slow play on the PGA Tour.
There’s a lot to chew on out there, so let’s break it down.
The first thing to know is that this is a local rule that will only apply to PGA Tour events. Green reading books are perfectly legal under the R&A and USGA rules. They exist for thousands of courses, other than Augusta National, and every course that has hosted a PGA Tour event in the past five years, say. This rule will not take those old books out of circulation. So, to put that in high school mischievous terms, the cheat material exists.
But the tour tells players they can’t just trace the lines from an old green reading book into a new approved book. They also can’t look at an old green reading book or any sort of laser rendering and make educated lines based on general observations. The message is clear here: you can only make lines if you have played the course or watched it on TV. A strict interpretation of this wording would also appear to prohibit taking notes based on conversations with other players who have played the course.
What makes this potentially cloudy is the fact that players will be still able to mark illustration of green in approved books. (Besides writing a pause, guys often make huge X’s on the parts of the green they want to avoid or draw arrows if a slope is particularly severe.) A number of players also have a lot of experience. with those green reading books; they know what a 3 percent slope looks like. So if a tour pro goes green mapping himself, the better he does his job, the more his book will look like the bans. What if a player remembers that a particular putt he took in a past event has a 2% break. Does he have the right to write this number on the approved book?
This rule, like so many in golf, will be based on the honor system. It’s just not possible to go through each player’s distance book to determine if their ratings disqualify a previously approved book. They will also have to rely on a player’s word when he says he drew lines based on his experience or watching, and not by remembering the same green reading book he used for a golf course in the over the past three years.
The memo says the PGA Tour rules staff will work with the USGA to educate players ahead of the January implementation date. There will no doubt be many, many questions.