The Rules of Golf: USGA and Green Reading Books

You’ve no doubt heard about the USGA looking into the latest crazy in professional golf, green reading books. Some folks see it as an unfair advantage and others feel it’s the next evolution in golf equipment.

Here what the USGA and the R&A have said.

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In a recent NBC Sports group media conference call, for the upcoming Players Championship, Jonny Miller, David Duval, and Justin Leonard committed on the subject of green reading books.

JUSTIN LEONARD: I played last week at the Texas Open, and Steve Hulka was caddying for me, and he had one of those books with, you know the arrows and everything. I looked at it twice and I couldn’t — it was too much information for me.

I think the reason they are looking at it — and I’ll tell you that I had a putt on Friday on No. 9 to make the cut, about a 25-footer. And Steve told me what the book said, and it did exactly what it said.

But that being said, I think to me, it’s a slow-play issue. It takes too much time. It takes the feel away from the game. I know we’re in a time where technology plays such a role in all sports, and it’s certainly playing a role in golf with TrackMan and everything.

But I think that there’s also a – there needs to be a feel and guys using instincts and using past experience, charting putts and things like that from years past. Practice rounds are important.

I’m not a fan of these greens books. I think they slow down play and they take away a player’s natural ability and need to feel and see what’s going on on the golf course.

DAVID DUVAL: I don’t believe they should be using them. I understand the pace of play aspect of it, but as long as – pace of play isn’t as big a deal to me in that. I think it removes the art of it. Everything has become so scientific. It does remove a bit of the art of putting and takes away some feel.

Certainly obviously you see players consulting them for extended lengths of time, and that’s a problem. But I don’t want to focus it on the pace of play issue, because I think there is a distinction between pace of play in recreation golf and then competitive golf at the highest level.

Certainly we want the game to move along properly, but you can’t expect the guys who are competing to win THE PLAYERS next week, the U.S. Open in June, to race around the golf course in two hours and 45 minutes like everybody likes to do when they are home playing recreational golf. It’s an entirely different entity. So to try to compare the two, I think you’re missing the mark there.

But I don’t think it should be part of the game. I think that you have enough information. It is about being out there and having a look and doing your scouting and figuring things out that way.

JOHNNY MILLER: I was like the second-fastest player on TOUR behind Lanny, and I went with my first instinct and my homework I had done in the practice rounds.

The problem with a line on the ball, putting the line on there, and the topographical maps and stuff, I just think anything – the thing is, it’s not just the pros. All of these young players are copying everything the pros do. So it’s slowing it all the way down to the junior ranks.

If you couldn’t put the line on the ball and you didn’t have these books that basically almost hit the ball for you; I just think it’s taken away – in fact, the older players, the one advantage they had was they had experience on these courses, and now with these super books that they have, that you can buy, it’s just – I think that, you know, you should have to learn these courses. It shouldn’t be that you could walk out there and shoot 63 the first time around, you know, with all this help that you get.

So I’m against anything that slows things down. I just think all these guys, these young kids, they all copy exactly what the pros do. They have taken more time than they need to, I believe. I’m a fast player, so I always go super fast.