LA JOLLA, Calif. — With the report on Wednesday from Golfweek that green reading books have been voted out by the Player Advisory Council for next season, we spoke to a few caddies on site at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines this week to get their initial thoughts.
“I’m not surprised at all. Sometimes I use them and sometimes I don’t. I used them more for slopes on approach shots like if you have a backstop or a false front,” caddie Bobby Brown said.
“I don’t think any green-reading book has ever won a golf tournament, you know what I mean? But I know some guys who are addicted to them. That’s going to be the tough part, the transitioning out of them. I’ve had players who’ve used them and many who haven’t. I was never a huge fan of them.”
Kenny Harms, longtime caddie for Kevin Na, sees the decision as a positive.
“I’m good with it,” Harms said. “It can only help the guys that can read greens.”
Mark Urbanek, who caddies for Tony Finau, is pleased with the players decision to ban the green reading books as well.
“I’m glad to see that, it shouldn’t have been allowed in the first place,” he said.
One can only wonder if this decision will make putting require more skill.
“Arguably,” Urbanek says, “the green books help, but not as much as most think.”
Erik Van Rooyen’s caddie, Alex Gaugert, sees this decision as causing putting to require more skill.
“I would say, yes, for sure, and overall I don’t think missing the books will have that much of a difference,” Gaugert said. “You’ve still got to hit the putt on line, you’ve still got to hit the right speed, and there’s a lot that goes into it.”
Mark Fulcher (caddie for Billy Horschel) had this to say on the skill side of putting.
“I agree without question that green reading is a skill, and it’s going to require more skill now (after the ban),” Fulcher said. “In my belief, it’s a good decision. All it is (the green-reading books) is confirmation of what you see. I don’t think they’re going to be missed to be honest.”
Justin York caddies for Chez Reavie and he’s not a fan of the decision against the green-reading books.
“I find them invaluable, especially on greens that are subtle. When they’re subtle, those are the hardest greens to read,” York said. “The fact that they’re banning them starting next season, I don’t like that because I use it every hole. It is helpful, but I think their intent is obviously getting back to the roots of golf where they didn’t have them in the older days and they probably also want to speed play up, so obviously it will accomplish both of those. But I’m sad to see them go. It’s a bummer that they’re not going to be used.”
Were the books used by some only because of a perceived disadvantage if players and caddies didn’t use them?
“If players and caddies see someone who’s putting good using it they think, ‘oh I want to use that’,” Gaugert said. “Sometimes my player, Erik, is not sure on a read and we’ll go to the book, but that’s kind of a last resort. For the most part he putts on his own and he putts fine.”
Scottie Scheffler’s caddie Scott Mcguinness doesn’t like how much the books made putting too manufactured.
“Golf’s not a manufactured sport and the greens books makes it so there’s no art in reading a green,” Mcguinness said. “It will be good to get back to reading it on our own. It’s been a big advantage to those who can’t read greens well. I don’t like them, and I’m glad for them to be gone.”
One player who uses the books religiously is Bryson DeChambeau. His caddie Tim Tucker doesn’t think the books getting banned will be an issue for his player.
“I feel like he’s a great green reader and I don’t think it’s going to affect him,” Tucker said.
Were caddies surprised that the voting by players was so overwhelmingly against the books?
“No not really, it doesn’t surprise me,” Brown said. “I feel like it’s been coming. Guys have been talking about it, chirping about it, all that good stuff. It doesn’t affect me one way or the other. I don’t have to hit any putts.”
Mcguinness had this to say about the player majority against the books: “I don’t know that I’m surprised. Everyone’s different and got their own opinions, and that’s what they went with.”
Gaugert sees this decision helping pace of play greatly, but he also wonders how it will be enforced when next season begins.
“People already have these books, plain and simple.” Gaugert said. “So how much can they restrict them from putting numbers into their yardage books? So that’s why I’ll be curious on the rules they implement if they’re not going to allow guys to use any sort of green reading tools in their yardage books, can they do any preparation before.”
Veteran caddie A.J. Montecinos, who caddies for Justin Suh, won’t miss the books one bit.
“I don’t use them and I don’t agree with them in general, so I’m fine with this decision,” Montecinos said.