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Yardage Book 101

What is a yardage book?

A yardage book is a small booklet or pamphlet that contains illustrations, pictures, or diagrams of each hole on a golf course. Most of the time these booklets will fit in the back of your pocket.

Old Golf Yardage Book

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What’s the purpose of a yardage book?

The purpose of a yardage book is quite simply, to provide a golfer or caddie the distance, usually measured in yards/meters from Point A (where the ball is or most likely will be) to Point B (where you want the ball to end up). This helps in aiding the golfer to determine what club they should hit to accomplish this goal.

What information does a yardage book include?

A yardage book can be as simple or detailed as you like, but most offer the following:

  • Overhead view of the current hole

  • Outlines of tee boxes, fairways, hazards, rough, bunkers, and green complexes

  • Landmarks or significant areas of the course that never change, such as tree’s, rocks, yardage markers, structures, etc…

Flaghunting Yardage Books

What’s the history of yardage books in golf?

In 1954, Deane Berman (who was later appointed PGA Tour commissioner in 1974) began to map out and methodically measure important yardages on the golf courses he was playing, while still only a junior golfer. As you can imagine, Deane’s work was unsophisticated compared to today’s pricey GPS devices and land-surveying equipment used on the PGA Tour courses today.

Deane, used trees and bunkers to note key yardages for the shots he felt he would make during a round. Mr. Berman, who mentioned that he was not a popular golfer amongst the caddies of the day, as he would require them to walk-off the course before every round and give Deane the yardages to the green complex. Pin sheets, were not something that the course gave out, nor did it really exist until Deane brought his system to friend and fellow amateur Jack Nicklaus.

Yardage Book

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The “Golden Bear” went on to win the 1961 U.S. Amateur using Deane’s method, and as the former commissioner recalls “I don’t think Jack ever played a round without having the ability to really, really know the length of any shot he was facing.” It wasn’t until the 1970’s that “yardage books” as they began to be called, caught on with the professional golfers of the day. George Lucas, and Mark Long both pioneers in the field of mapping out golf courses, began to enhance the yardage books that were then sold to caddies and professional golfers as they travelled from city to city. When you turn on the TV this weekend to tune into the Arnold Palmer Invitational, you will be hard-pressed to find a Tour pro or caddie without one.

What about the newly released USGA/R&A rules that will “Allow the use of Distance Measuring Devices (DMD’s) unless a Local Rule has been adopted prohibiting their use?

Does that make a Yardage Book obsolete?

In our simple opinion, no. We’re a big proponent of the rule change, we think allowing DMD’s “legally” on the golf course, will help speed up the pace of play for the vast majority of golfers which is a good thing! The real benefit to using DMD’s will be when they are used in unison with a yardage book, before, during, and after a round…

A laser rangefinder is really good at giving you accurate yardages to a specific point i.e. a flagstick on a Par 3. What it may not give you, is the entire hole layout, where the pin location is in relation to hazards, where to start your shot, bail out areas, shot history, etc…

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It doesn’t give the golfer a plan to visualize 2-3 strokes from your current situation to determine which club to hit now, in order to get to a specific point in the future. There is obviously a lot of crossover in what a yardage book and a DMD can give the golfer such as the best angle of attack to the green, carry distances, and yardages to specific points on the course, course management, etc...

What’s the difference you may ask? Golfing products go from free downloadable apps to GPS enabled carts that cost thousands of dollars. A laser rangefinder will cost upwards of $200-350, and its up to the player to determine if the benefits outweigh the cost. We own a laser rangefinder. We think it helps us in decision making along with owning a yardage book, but when you compare the investment, a yardage book will most likely cost less than the lunch you bought at work today and will still be relevant every time you play the course in the future.

How are Yardage Books used today?

Nowadays, PGA Tour yardage books contain not only yardages from Point A to Point B, but also include highly detailed topographical features, slopes, suggested putting lines, and distances to the significant parts of a hole. Think about it… in some instances, millions of dollars are on the line with every swing, what professional wouldn’t want the ability to use a legal aid in determining their club or line for the next shot?

What about for amateur golfers you might ask?

In our analysis, most high-end courses and resorts have paid a professional advertising or marketing company big money to produce a nice looking yardage book for their customers or members. We would venture to guess that on more than 75% of the courses that an average competitive or weekend golfer plays on a regular basis, don't have this luxury available due to the huge minimum orders, and thousands of dollars worth of capital to make this a reality…until now.


Yardage Book Hole

Our vision is to be an online directory and community of likeminded golfers that want access to yardage books of the courses that they play on a regular basis. What we've created is a tutorial series that teaches the everyday player, aspiring junior golfer, or a seasoned PGA professional How to Make a Yardage Book or Greens Book with our online series.

Utilizing modern technology (Dropbox, Vimeo, Cloud Storage & Graphic Design software) we are able to share our processes and steps with pre-made templates and how to's that show you how to make a yardage book online.

Yes, there is other information on the internet about how to make a yardage book utilizing free software (inkscape, powerpoint, etc...) but I felt that in order to justify spending the time making a yardage or greens book, I wanted to do it with modern technology that would assist me and not detract from my experience.

Golfers are a passionate group and I’m excited to share this my knowledge with you to help lower your scores, and add peace of mind to your round.

Whether you are using it for your local club championship, or making a couple for your junior golfer, I know that you will find it worthwhile and fun!

If you want to get started making yardage books, we would love to help show you the ropes. If you enjoyed this article, or have a general comment and want to learn more, hit the subscribe button below or contact us to let us know how we can help.

Thanks, and happy #flaghunting.

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