Restrictions coming to yardage and greens books for PGA Tour players, caddies

Beginning in January 2022, changes are coming to players and caddies regarding yardage and greens reading books on the PGA Tour. Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Changes are coming to the PGA Tour for players and caddies in regard to yardage and greens books beginning in January 2022.

Brian Wacker, of Golf Digest, tweeted out a memo sent by the PGA Tour to players and caddies.

According to the report, rather than players and caddies being able to utilize the ultra-detailed yardage and greens books currently at their disposal, they will instead be required to use yardage books that are “Committee Approved” by the Tour’s competition committee.

Those books, “will be very similar to a traditional yardage book and, with respect to green details, will have only general information on slopes and other features.”

RELATED: Meet Mark Long — the former caddie responsible for creating the incredibly detailed yardage and greens books used on the PGA Tour each week

The entire memo read:

“It’s all going to come out in the wash,” caddie Scott Sajtinac, president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies (APTC), told the Caddie Network. “Good putters will still putt good; bad putters will still putt bad. I’ve been told that this is not a pace of play issue. This is about the integrity of the sport and that reading a green is an inherent skill and shouldn’t be spoon-fed through data. If they really want to speed up the pace of play on the greens, they should do away with the Sharpie line on the ball, which guys take 10, 20, 30, 35, 40 seconds to line up.

LISTEN: Our podcast with yardage book and green book creator Mark Long

“So, I’ve been told this is not a pace of play thing — this is purely an integrity of the game situation and putting is a skill using your eyes, feel and intuition. It’ll all come out in the wash. My only concern is not only the greens-book ban, but every yardage book the caddies have spent thousands — tens of thousands — of dollars on over the last 5, 10, 15, 20 years are now also banned and we have to buy brand new books starting in the New Year because the greens in our yardage books used the same technology for the limited arrows they have in the yardage books. So, by default, they’re also banned. So, there’s a financial burden that’s been put on the caddies here for what we’ve been told is a player-pushed policy.”

Kenny Harms, caddie for Kevin Na — an exceptional putter — is happy with the decision. But he also sees it as a double-edged sword.

“I’m glad they’re gone,” Harms said. “I think the guys that can read greens — players and caddies — are at an extreme advantage. I’m glad they got rid of them. But I don’t think it’ll speed up play. I think it’ll be worse because more guys will try to learn Aimpoint. It’ll take longer than a book. I watch guys that do Aimpoint and think they’re slow. It’s going to backfire if that’s the purpose — to speed up play.

“What I don’t agree with is that players and caddies can write notes into the new books,” Harms added. “There are guys who will take their old books and write notes. They should have just said, hey, you can do whatever you want, but no notes in your book when it comes to greens. Don’t get me wrong, golf is an integrity sport, but there will be guys who bend the rules.”

“I personally think green reading is a skill and I’m glad they’re banning these books,” said Jeff Willett, caddie for Luke List. “As far as speeding up play… no it won’t help. When players and caddies are ready to play when it’s their turn then play will speed up. No greens books will have a very minor effect on pace of play.”

Unlike caddie Kyle Peters (social post above), veteran caddie Kip Henley was happy with the news.

“A Big Ole Golf Clap to the powers to be on making this move that will surely be argued!” Henley tweeted. “I got to believe this is more like it should be and will speed the game a little!”

Matt Minister, caddie for 2021 PGA Tour Player of the Year Patrick Cantlay, is also fine with seeing the greens books go away.

“Golf was not meant to be played with aides,” he said. “I feel the greens book is an aide. I’m glad they decided to ban them. I don’t think it will change the pace of play. Tour play is slow and the greens book won’t make a difference.”

The news wasn’t a big surprise.

Back in June, the PGA Tour’s Player Advisory Council voted to outlaw the intricate green-reading books setting up the ban. Many believe that green reading is a skill to be learned and that the detailed books take the skill out of the art of putting.

Click here to see what caddies had to say about the vote against green-reading books over the summer.

Our Caddie Correspondent John Rathouz — a former caddie for 22 years with 16 on the PGA Tour — tracked down several of his fellow loopers. Here’s what they had to say about the decision to eliminate the greens books:

Paul Tesori: “I’m obviously pro green books. I’ve spent over $4,000 taking lessons and learning all the ins and outs of the equations. I’d say less than 10 percent really knew how to read the books correctly. It speeds up Webber (Webb Simpson) with quick decisions. BUT, I fully and utterly get the decision. It does take a portion of feel out of the process. My worry is that the rule leaves a lot of gray area. A lot. If I roll balls and find the straight spine on the approximate hole locations, how detailed can the notes be?”

Don Donatello: “It’s frustrating to be honest. Not so much to not be able to use the greens book, but all the work that has to be put in for the second time in a couple years. It’s costing caddies thousands of dollars and our time is valuable.

“I’m also sad for Mark Long who’s invested so much. Practice rounds are going to be even longer. I mostly used the books for second shots. It really made a big difference. The better caddies will stand out in some ways, but it’s not going to change the game much in terms of pace of play. The greens books do make life easier but you still need to know how to read the book. So many other things that need to be changed. The players that are not as good putters that use them all the time could struggle more. The Jordan Spieths though, those guys will always be able to putt. It equals the playing field. The better putters will stand out.”

Corby Segal: “I actually like it. I don’t mind it at all. Back in the day, we would roll balls and chart putts that way. I’m not a fan of knowing exactly because it takes away the feel and skill of reading greens and putting.

“When I was working for Briny Baird, we bought one one week and I had my head buried in it and he said ‘If I can’t trust your eyes, I can’t trust you. So go throw that thing in the trash.”
Derek Smith: “I like that they’re doing it. I agree. But it’s going to slow us down. You can’t harp on pace of play at the same time. More caddies will be getting called in.”

Steve Hulka: “The Tour wants to go back to the way things were. They’re trying to roll back the clock. It’s not the tour and players that are pissed off, it’s TV… Bryson’s out there reading War and Peace while he’s playing golf… They don’t want to see the books.

“If they want to solve all their problems – get rid of all books and give us lasers.
“When I was caddying for Brian Davis I found it very useful (the greens book). He didn’t want to see it. But when he asked for my reads, the more I gave him out of the book, and he was making putts, he’d start saying ‘What’s the book got?'”
Justin York: “I’ve caddied on Tour since 2010 and that was the first year I was introduced to the greens books. I think it’s a valuable tool, aiding my player in reading greens and also allowing myself to give information that is helpful to them making better scores.“I think they are very much valid. Just because you have information that is different than what your eyes may see, doesn’t make you a better putter. You still have to put it on line and pick a spot. It doesn’t give you an automatic ability, aim ability, to put it right where it needs to be. It helps you to do that, but it doesn’t swing it for you. It’s not like Tiger-vision on X-Box, where it tells you exactly where to putt it and if you do it there, the ball goes in. It’s no different than having to execute from the fairway.

“Your eyes get better at reading greens because of the greens books. It allows you to see the shaping and the contouring. I don’t agree with the ruling and taking this away from players, especially some that have used nothing but those in their professional careers on the PGA Tour.

“The green reading devices that they’re telling us we can’t use even for practice. Are you going to tell these guys, you can’t bring a Trackman or the GCQUad onto the golf course? That’s a distance measuring tool that you’re allowing on the actual game surface. Putting is a facet of the game no different than a full shot. So if you’re not allowing any instruments to read the greens, you shouldn’t allow any instruments to measure your specific distances for your shots on the course as well. I think they’ve definitely missed the mark there.

“The only one positive thing is it possible could speed up play. But players now are so slow. It doesn’t really matter. What’s another 15 seconds? Virtually nothing.

“I don’t think they thought this through as much as they needed to and got the feedback from a big enough pool of players before they made this decision.”

COMMENTS

  1. who really cares what book your reading the ball has no clue its the one striking it that matters , now if your using the whatever books and slow playing because of it then the responsibility lies on the officials who try and do as little as possible , and one more thing about these miracle books , players are still missing 3 footers even with the book in their pockets

  2. This will not speed up play. Lasers will not speed up play but they should be allowed. If you don’t like them don’t use them. “The back in my day” stuff is self-serving. Those days are frankly gone and some need to get over it I.E. TV announcers. Funny how the same people don’t talk about going back to persimmon clubs and the heavy leather golf bags ? I guess they’re not really that “old school.” If they wanted to bring “skill” back in the game shorten the time a player has to hit the ball and enforce it. Pros will kick and scream but they aren’t going to quit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.