As of January 1, 2022, players competing in PGA Tour events will no longer be able to use the controversial and highly detailed green-reading books in their current guise.
A long-overdue decision to "return to a position where players and caddies use only their skill, judgement and feel" to read greens was communicated in a message to players and first revealed by Golf Monthly contributor Brian Wacker on Twitter:
Changes coming to PGA Tour yardage and greens books starting January 1, 2022. pic.twitter.com/GhgsXReUC3November 1, 2021
It's important to note that, for now, this only applies to the PGA Tour, although it would be strange were the R&A and USGA to not follow suit in the relatively near future.
The new Local Rule will see players have to conform to a "Committee Approved" yardage book, which will present "only general information on slopes and other features" on each green.
While it's a welcome change, where it becomes tricky will be in enforcing this latest restriction.
"Handwritten notes that could assist with reading the line of play on the putting green will continue to be allowed in the approved book," the memo continues.
"However, such notes will be restricted to those made by the player or caddie and must be derived from the experiences or any observations of a ball rolling on a green. This includes observations from a TV broadcast."
That all seems fair enough, but given the majority of players will still have access to the old books, the next point appears to be something of a sticky wicket.
"Transferring previous handwritten notes that also meet the restrictions into the approved book is allowed. No devices, levels or other technology may be used to gather information to be kept as notes, and no information may be copied from another source into the approved book."
With the best will in the world there is no way every PGA Tour player's yardage book is going to be inspected to the nth degree to assess its legality. Plus, it'll be nigh-on impossible to determine whether a "handwritten note" has come from a fresh observation or the bank of information tour regulars will have built up since green-reading books were introduced.
However, regardless of the timing, it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction - a small one, admittedly - in bringing back an element of feel and human error that makes our sport, and all sport, so entertaining.
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A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.
Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.
As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.
What's in Andy's bag?
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)
3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)
Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)
Putter: TaylorMade Spider X
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
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