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Green Reading Books to Be Banned?


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The PGA Tour is likely to ban the controversial green-reading books before the start of next season, Golfweek has learned.

Apparently a majority players want to ban green-reading books.  I'm interested to see how this progresses, from two standpoints.  First, the Ruling Bodies have limited the size and scale of green-reading materials, but specifically do not prohibit them.  I'll be interested to see how the PGA Tour words any rule, to see what information and detail is permitted on written materials.  Second, the PGA Tour follows the Rules of Golf, uses only Local Rules previously approved by the Ruling Bodies.  I don't believe that anything in their   To eliminate green-reading materials, they'll be outlawing something that is specifically permitted by the Rules, that would be a departure from the Tour's previous practices. 

Lots of people have spoken out against the greens books, what do y'all think about this?

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3 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:
 

Lots of people have spoken out against the greens books, what do y'all think about this?

I think golf is hard. So, I'm okay with books.
With this caveat: Enforce the time to putt. I don't care if you call a friend, or ask the audience for their opinion. Just do it fast. 


If you are going to allow green reading books, make em use em fast. 

Bryson's 2 and 3 minute putt evaluation is re-god-damned-diculous. 

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I’d rather see arm-locking be banned. My reasoning is simple—if the governing bodies are so worried about distance becoming too important and overshadowing other skills, then make putting more difficult. They already banned anchoring to the torso, so just limit putting to the hands, fingers, ands palms—just like any other stroke.

Look, I know ballstriking will always be king of SV and SG, but I think banning the armlock would make guys spend more time on it, and maybe it would deter the governing bodies rolling the ball or equipment back (something I don’t want to happen)  

As to green books, I’m fine with them, but to @ChetlovesMer’s point, let’s limit slow play by enforcing time limits. 

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I have two thoughts.

First, @DaveP043, the PGA Tour could request from the USGA a Local Rule or a "waiver" or whatever it's called. The USGA might just add it to the Model Local Rules. You can implement a bunch of Local Rules, the "Models" are just the ones you can copy/paste and don't really need "permission" to use.

If the PGA Tour bans them I imagine the USGA/R&A might adopt or help them craft the language for a new Model Local Rule.

13 minutes ago, ChetlovesMer said:

I think golf is hard. So, I'm okay with books.
With this caveat: Enforce the time to putt. I don't care if you call a friend, or ask the audience for their opinion. Just do it fast.

The second thought is this: who cares what they've got written down if you enforce pace of play policies? Green reading charts aren't just used to putt - players use them in the fairways, or on the tees of par threes.

Writing a Local Rule against them may be difficult. If the true problem is "slow play" then fix that. If the true problem is "de-skilling" the game, then they may go the Local Rule route.

@ncates00, this topic ain't about arm lock putting, and nobody is saying "putting is easy." They're saying "green reading should be a skill" (with no real evidence that players who use green reading books putt any better than those who don't).

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4 minutes ago, iacas said:

who cares what they've got written down if you enforce pace of play policies? Green reading charts aren't just used to putt - players use them in the fairways, or on the tees of par threes.

This.

I totally agree. Again, if you can read your book or read the green or stick up your fingers (aim point), I don't mind at all. Just enforce pace of play. 

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2 minutes ago, iacas said:

First, @DaveP043, the PGA Tour could request from the USGA a Local Rule or a "waiver" or whatever it's called. The USGA might just add it to the Model Local Rules. You can implement a bunch of Local Rules, the "Models" are just the ones you can copy/paste and don't really need "permission" to use.

I would think this is a task to be done before the final vote on the issue.  Its one thing to have the small group define an intention, the details may take a while to work through.  

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(edited)

I think the books are OK if they're just like all the other info the players have. But enforce a time limit. I remember watching Phil staring at his book for a minute or so a couple of years ago for a three or four footer.

What I'd really like to see is caddies banned - or limited - from reading putts. Maybe stand behind the shoulder of the player but that's it. Nothing irks me more than seeing Brooke Henderson's sister/caddie walking up and pointing to where the ball should go (As if Brooke doesn't know) on every single putt or DJ's brother - and others - doing the Aimpoint straddle. Let the caddies handle the pins and let the players read the putts. I notice that the LPGA male caddies very often want to be seen as more involved than they are. As if they're helping the little ladies. Thakj God they stopped the "lining up" BS.

Maybe that would slow things down, but if there's a time limit it wouldn't matter.

Edited by Shorty
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15 hours ago, iacas said:

Writing a Local Rule against them may be difficult. If the true problem is "slow play" then fix that. If the true problem is "de-skilling" the game, then they may go the Local Rule route.

This is what I’m missing here. Has anyone said why they want to ban them? A caddie in the article mentions speed of play, but when they brought up this topic to discuss and vote over, surely they must have a reason for it.

If the majority of players involved voted for banning, it would be interesting to know the reason.

Speed up play is a potential one, but who knows if it actually will help. De-skilling, or making players less reliable on everything that is not the actual course is maybe something. It helps everyone as long as they use it, but maybe some feel like the best players got better books or make better use of them and banning them would benefit themselves.

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1 hour ago, Zeph said:

Speed up play is a potential one, but who knows if it actually will help. De-skilling, or making players less reliable on everything that is not the actual course is maybe something. It helps everyone as long as they use it, but maybe some feel like the best players got better books or make better use of them and banning them would benefit themselves.

From what I've read, all players are given the course yardage and greens books at the beginning of each tournament, I don't think that some players get better books.  Perhaps the majority of players think they read greens just fine, and the books bring poorer green-readers up to their level.  Banning the books forces players to rely on their own (and their caddie's) abilities.

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(edited)
16 hours ago, Shorty said:

1) I notice that the LPGA male caddies very often want to be seen as more involved than they are. As if they're helping the little ladies.

2) Thakj God they stopped the "lining up" BS.

These two statements are inconsistent. You're saying, in your opinion, that the caddies want to be seen, as if they're helping the women. Then, you state your happiness that the lining up ended. Before it was banned, who do you think asked the other to do the lining up in the first place--the player or the caddy? I'm going to say the player asked the caddy. That likely fact flies in the face against your first statement. I think you're projecting here, i.e., looking for sexism or something (given the language and general context you used: "male caddies" "helping the little ladies"). Gonna need more evidence than that.

Edited by ncates00
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I'm curious to see how this rule will be written. I'm sure they don't want to ban written notes for greens, so it will be interesting to see how they draw the line.

I also wonder if this is really a pace of play issue or a de-skilling issue. The article says that the players think it takes skill out of green reading. I have one a greens book similar to what they use on the Tour. It's helpful, but I don't think it saves me more than a stroke per round, if even that. Does it actually take skill out of green reading or do they just think it does? 

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(edited)

If that's true, then maybe fix pace of play instead? Slow players are going to be slow if they have the books or not. When I use my green book, I normally do it in 5-10 seconds, and I do it while other people are playing, too. Maybe enforce pace of play rules instead of punishing fast players who use the books...

Edited by DeadMan
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I've been curious how the Tour might write a Rule for this, and hadn't thought of this idea from GolfClubAtlas:

Quote

The other thing would be to ban caddies and players from consulting written materials on or around the green entirely.

 

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19 minutes ago, iacas said:

I've been curious how the Tour might write a Rule for this, and hadn't thought of this idea from GolfClubAtlas:

Quote

The other thing would be to ban caddies and players from consulting written materials on or around the green entirely.

 

I'm fairly sure this would go over about like a lead balloon, if only because then players are going to be motivated to start pacing off every single short game shot around the green instead of just looking at the pre-measured distances on their yardage book. If pace of play enforcement remains unchanged, as awful as it currently is, this would only make for even slower rounds on the tour.

At its core, this seems to be a pace of play issue rather than an issue of making the game "too easy". People may say it's about the game being "too easy", but the data doesn't actually show putting to be any easier today than it was decades ago. 

Median SG putting on the tour this year is +0.030, and the median SG putting in 2004 (the first year it was tracked) was 0.028. Top SG putting this year is 0.990 and top SG putting in '04 was 0.853, in '05 it was 0.939. The only place there is any difference is in the very best putters on the tour, but even then it's relatively minimal. 2021 sees 15 golfers with SG putting values 0.6 or higher, while 2004 saw 13 golfers with SG putting values 0.5 or higher. That said, the worst putters in 2021 are much worse than the worst of 2004, with -1.326 SG in 2021 and -0.871 in 2004. In 2004 only 9 players were -0.5 strokes or worse, and in 2021 there are 25 players losing more than 0.5 strokes per round from putting alone!

That 0.1 strokes per round difference may seem large considering the tight scoring averages, but it's no different than what you see for every other SG stat - the best players today are better than the best players of 2004 and the worst players are worse in 2021 than in 2004 while the average stays the same (because SG is a metric compared relative to the field, after all). There is a bigger difference between the best and worst players in every category nowadays than there used to be, if the game was easier you would see that gap between best and worst shrink instead of grow. The game is clearly more difficult now on tour than it used to be, and the data is unanimous in highlighting this.

With that in mind, here's what I'd propose instead:

Enforce the pace of play rules more strictly - it's literally that simple. Forget about the Observation List BS, and just start enforcing pace of play for every single player on the course.

Quit using unreliable officials with stopwatches, and just use the far more reliable ShotLink to measure each player with less manpower required. 40 seconds to hit every shot for every player, 10 extra seconds for the first player to hit. One bad time is a warning, further bad times are a one stroke penalty. Because enforcement is both more widespread and more strict, make the warnings reset after each round so that a player gets one warning per round instead of one warning per tournament.

Better yet, use a small portion of the advertising dollars to create a second pot of money alongside the new popularity contest. Rank players based on a weighted scale of scoring average and number of pace warnings, call it "player efficiency" or something, and award money to the top-10 finishers. If the Tour shows it's serious about pace of play by putting their money where their mouth is and players will start to listen. Until then it's all bark, no bite, and slow play will happen regardless of players using green books or other charts and data.

 

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9 minutes ago, Pretzel said:

Quit using unreliable officials with stopwatches, and just use the far more reliable ShotLink to measure each player with less manpower required. 40 seconds to hit every shot for every player, 10 extra seconds for the first player to hit. One bad time is a warning, further bad times are a one stroke penalty. Because enforcement is both more widespread and more strict, make the warnings reset after each round so that a player gets one warning per round instead of one warning per tournament.

At some point its appropriate to consider position relative to the group ahead.  Efficient players might arrive at their ball and be required to wait, that shouldn't count against them.  I think you really need to have humans involved.  On the other hand, the policy itself is designed to minimize the potential for a player to be penalized.  Its a long process, they have to get out of position, get warned they're on the clock, then get a first bad time and get warned again, then get a second bad time and have a penalty stroke assessed. I think they could find ways to tighten up the policy, but I don't think the bulk of the players want to see things get tighter.

I should add, this thread originally was based on the decision to ban green-reading books.  I understand that some of the motivation may be pace of play, so I understand the direction we're taking, but we probably shouldn't get too far down the slow play rabbit-hole in this thread, lest we veer completely :offtopic:.  Yes, I'm as guilty as anyone, so hopefully this is the last time I discuss slow play here.

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13 minutes ago, Pretzel said:

I'm fairly sure this would go over about like a lead balloon, if only because then players are going to be motivated to start pacing off every single short game shot around the green instead of just looking at the pre-measured distances on their yardage book.

Huh?

They don't really look at their yardage books when they're within about 50 yards of the greens now. Why would they start doing this?

If you're saying they can't start looking at printed materials within a boundary layer, and they'll just hang out back in the fairway and look at the green slopes, you could say it's your ball position, not the player position. Otherwise the caddy could stand 50 yards away and yell up to the player or something. So I can't believe that's what you're suggesting.

13 minutes ago, Pretzel said:

At its core, this seems to be a pace of play issue rather than an issue of making the game "too easy". People may say it's about the game being "too easy", but the data doesn't actually show putting to be any easier today than it was decades ago. 

They are all saying it's about the skill, not the time.

13 minutes ago, Pretzel said:

Quit using unreliable officials with stopwatches, and just use the far more reliable ShotLink to measure each player with less manpower required.

?

ShotLink requires a human to enter the result of the shot. Sometimes they don't see where it is, don't note when it was hit exactly, etc.

And… Again, this assumes it's actually about pace of play.

3 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

I should add, this thread originally was based on the decision to ban green-reading books.  I understand that some of the motivation may be pace of play, so I understand the direction we're taking, but we probably shouldn't get too far down the slow play rabbit-hole in this thread, lest we veer completely :offtopic:.  Yes, I'm as guilty as anyone, so hopefully this is the last time I discuss slow play here.

Thank you.

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I know books are consulted quite often. But I do think it would be nice to have these guys just do it the old school way and read the putt at hand. I mean nothing used. Get to your ball, read it and make the putt. Green reading is a skill. I think those that are better at it than others should be ‘rewarded.’

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