Back in July of 2018, the joint decision between the USGA and the R&A, starting in 2019 the governing bodies announced a plan that would limit the scope of green reading materials in an attempt to "reaffirm" an emphasis on a players skill.
We have seen over Q1 of the 2019 golf season (especially at the professional level) that the rule changes that occurred have affected the game at some level or another. Several penalties have been assessed, with the majority of the high profile assessments, of no wrong doing of the player, but their caddie:
When it comes to wrongdoings of the player, we have several other instances where PGA Tour golfers have been assessed penalties (or worse, see below) for the new rules.
At PGA National, the home of the Honda Classic, Alex Cejka became one of the first players to be DQ'd from the tournament for use of an illegal green reading book.
It is important to note, that Yardage & Greens Book are still LEGAL. All of the products that we sell and promote are LEGAL under the USGA and R&A's requirement.
Cekja, in this instance, was using a previous years version of the green reading book that did not fit the size to scale limit that the USGA and R&A have deemed "legal" (adding insult to injury, the previous years book had diagrams for the greens that had been re-done from a year ago).
So what exactly is the rules for Yardage and Greens reading books under the 2019 golf rules?
Under Rule 4.3 (use of equipment), "books are limited in scale for green diagrams to where a grid can be no more precise than 3/8" equaling 5 yards of the green."
It also states that the size of Yardage Books, are limited to 4.25" x 7".
Do not go over 4.25"x 7" (or 3/8" equaling 5 yards of the green) in your homemade yardage books or you'll also potentially risk a penalty or DQ.
The good news, is that you can still legally, "write and take notes, which has been a part of the game for a very long time", mentioned Thomas Pagel, the USGA Senior Managing Director of Governance.
Pagel, mentions that the grid limitations would serve as an effective restraint against technology getting toofar out of control, effectively diminishing the skill of reading a green.
"Players can put as much detail as they like in the yardage book, but there's only so much information you can get in there, given the size of the grid", he said.
Understanding this rule, and staying within the boundaries of the 2019 golf rules, will allow you to learn from each round, and take detailed notes that would help you next time.
Below are several different ways, that we have found to help our game, when using a Yardage or Greens Book.
Record which club you hit on each hole
Did you hit it Great, OK, or Bad
How many yards you have remaining on approach shots
Layup strategies to hazards
Arrows of break on the greens
Best places to "miss"
If you are wanting to legally improve your game, you can purchase our Premium Bundle which will show you How to Make a Yardage & Greens Book for the courses that you play on a regular basis.
If you have any questions regarding this ruling, please comment below and we would love to help out!