The R&A and USGA have announced plans to take an even firmer stance against greens books.
Golf’s two governing bodies are introducing a Model Local Rule (MLR) to further limit the use of green-reading materials.
MLR G-11 will enable a committee to limit players to using only the yardage book that it has approved for use in the competition.
This local rule is intended only for the highest levels of competitive golf and, even then, only for competitions where it is realistic for the committee to undertake an approval process for yardage books. It will be available from January 1, 2022.
The local rule gives a committee the ability to establish an officially approved yardage book for a competition so that the diagrams of putting greens show only minimal detail (such as significant slopes, tiers 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 yardage book.
The purpose behind the local rule is to ensure that players and caddies use only their eyes and feel to help them read the line of play on the putting green.
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As the local rule should only be adopted at the highest levels of competitive golf, all other golfers will continue to be able to use green-reading tools so long as they meet the requirements established in 2019.
The new rule has been created in response to feedback from several professional tours and is the latest major rule change to be unveiled by the bodies in recent months. A comprehensive review of the laws governing amateur status was announced in October, as was a new limit on the maximum length of clubs (not including putters).
In November, the PGA Tour has announced new restrictions on the use of so-called green-reading materials, which were ratified during a Players Advisory Council meeting at the Shriners Children’s Open.
Those changes will see a new Local Rule will implemented on the world’s most lucrative circuit from January 1 that will restrict players and caddies to using a “Committee Approved” yardage book in competition rounds. That book will be “very similar” to a traditional yardage book and, with respect to greens details, will have only general information on slopes and other features.