The USGA and the R&A are proposing regulations regarding the use of green-reading materials, reaffirming the need for a player to read greens based on their own judgment, skill and ability, the associations announced in a release on Tuesday.
The announcement, which had been expected, comes in response to the proliferation of so-called “greens books” on the PGA Tour and other professional circuits that provide highly detailed diagrams of greens at tournament venues.
The regulations will be finalized in a published “interpretation” of Rule 4.3 (Use of Equipment) and adopted on Jan. 1, 2019, when golf’s new rules take effect.
“Both the USGA and the R&A are committed to the position that a player’s ability to read their line of play on the putting green is an essential skill that should be retained,” Thomas Pagel, senior director of rules of golf and amateur status for the USGA, said in the release. “The focus of the interpretation is to develop an approach that is both effective and enforceable.”
The key elements of the proposed interpretation are:
Minimum Slope Indication Limit: A minimum slope indication limit of 4 percent (2.29 degrees) is proposed (this includes lines, arrows, numbers or any other indicators); this will have the effect of eliminating such indicators of slope from those areas of the putting green where the hole is most likely to be positioned (which tend to be cut on reasonably flat sections of the putting green with a degree of slope of less than 3.5 percent – or 2 degrees). This proposed limit also equates roughly with the amount of slope that is readily visible to the naked eye.
Maximum Scale Limit: A maximum scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480) is proposed; this will limit the size in print form to a pocket-sized publication and has the effect of restricting the space for handwritten notes (also referenced below).
Indicative Information: General information that is included in traditional yardage books or course guides, such as basic illustrations that show the outline of the putting green and include indicative information like the tops of ridges or general slopes, will continue to be permitted.
Handwritten Notes: Handwritten notes will continue to be allowed, but such notes cannot be used to create either a direct copy or a facsimile (replica) of a detailed green map.