Golf’s rulemakers to clamp down on use of green-reading materials
‘Player integrity’ will be relied upon to avoid the need for rules officials to conduct checks
Ian Poulter is among the players that were urging the governing bodies to ban detailed maps of greens during tournaments. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
The use of green-reading materials is set to be limited from next year under proposals announced by the game’s governing bodies.
Following a six-week period of feedback and consultation with interested parties, the regulations will be finalised in a published “interpretation” of Rule 4.3 (Use of Equipment) and adopted on January 1st, 2019 when golf’s new rules come into effect.
Thomas Pagel, senior director of the rules of golf for the USGA, said: “It’s about regulating the use of these detailed green maps.
“A lot of people want to call it a ban but I still see a future for them in practice rounds, just as you see players and caddies using distance measuring devices. But in the playing of a round this information just won’t be available.”
Pagel added that the USGA and R&A would like developers to submit their products for approval and that “player integrity” would also be relied upon to avoid the need for rules officials to conduct checks during play.
In a statement, the R&A’s executive director of governance David Rickman said: “We have looked carefully at the use of these green-reading materials and the extremely detailed information they provide and our view is that they tip the balance too far away from the essential skill and judgement required to read subtle slopes on the greens.
“It is important to be clear, however, that we still regard the use of yardage books and handwritten notes to be an entirely appropriate part of the game.”
Under the proposals, general information which is included in traditional yardage books or course guides, such as basic illustrations that show the outline of the putting green and indicate general slopes, will still be allowed.
Players can also make handwritten notes, but such notes cannot be used to create either a direct copy or a facsimile of a detailed green map.
When the R&A and USGA announced other planned rules changes in March 2017, Ian Poulter was among the players to urge the governing bodies to ban the detailed maps of greens.
“The art of putting has been lost. If you can’t read a green that’s your fault,” Poulter wrote on Twitter back then.
“It takes too long for players and caddies to attempt to find A. The exact pin position on the grid. B. The exact position of your ball. C. Then too much time is spent looking at the book and not the green itself. Then the player asks the caddy to look at the putt. Simply takes too long.”