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USGA, R&A Limit Green Reading Materials


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Joint Statement Regarding Green-Reading Materials

May 1, 2017

The R&A and the USGA believe that a player's ability to read greens is an essential part of the skill of putting. Rule 14-3 limits the use of equipment and devices that might assist a player in their play, based on the principle that golf is a challenging game in which success should depend on the judgement, skills and abilities of the player. We are concerned about the rapid development of increasingly detailed materials that players are using to help with reading greens during a round. We are reviewing the use of these materials to assess whether any actions need to be taken to protect this important part of the game. We expect to address this matter further in the coming months.


FWIW I think they're talking about stuff like this…

AimPoint-Yaradge-Book.jpg


Edit (2018-10-15): The final "rules" are out:

 

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But in comparison to driving distance, it's not like there's a significant trend of everyone putting better, or no? So many people bombing it off the tee, but seems like putting is still the same.

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I imagine you're right.  

I understand their concern.  It's one thing for a player and his caddy to personally map out the greens during their practice rounds, but another altogether to obtain complete topographic maps of each green from an outside, commercial source.  

It wouldn't hurt my feelings to see the practice curtailed.  

Edited by David in FL
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(edited)
11 minutes ago, MacDutch said:

I would'nt mind if they forbid any info on green reading on paper during competition.

I'm not sure how they'd draw a line on this.  For decades, the commercially available yardage guides, like those made by "Gorjus" George Lucas, have included info on grade features on greens, like this one:

http://www.caddybytes.com/new_page_93.htm

The logical next step was the detailed green mapping.  If you "outlaw" green mapping, do you also prohibit the very generic green contour information that those old-style yardage books provided?

Edited by DaveP043
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Shame. I like when intelligence is rewarded. I believe I first read about this stuff from a Golf Digest article from 2014. Obviously you don't need one of those things to be able to read a green like a champ, but I always thought they were cool. 

According to the article, one caddy makes them and sells them to everyone else as a side business. I dunno tho if "an outside, commercial source" has taken it upon themselves recently to make these more readily available. Maybe they have. Certainly, doing this has gotten more known about since 2014, even tho it's still a niche thing outside the tours. I always kind of wished I charted all the greens at my home course, but ultimately I didn't care all that much to do it haha. Still, it'd be nice to still have the option if I wanted.

I can understand I guess why they'd want to get rid of them, because IMO they can be an advantage to a certain type of mind, but it's a shame really. I won't protest at all though if they get banned. I may gripe, but I won't protest.

Edited by JetFan1983
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7 minutes ago, JetFan1983 said:

Shame. I like when intelligence is rewarded. I believe I first read about this stuff from a Golf Digest article from 2014. Obviously you don't need one of those things to be able to read a green like a champ, but I always thought they were cool. 

According to the article, one caddy makes them and sells them to everyone else as a side business. I dunno tho if "an outside, commercial source" has taken it upon themselves recently to make these more readily available. Maybe they have. Certainly, doing this has gotten more known about since 2014, even tho it's still a niche thing outside the tours. I always kind of wished I charted all the greens at my home course, but ultimately I didn't care all that much to do it haha. Still, it'd be nice to still have the option if I wanted.

I can understand I guess why they'd want to get rid of them, because IMO they can be an advantage to a certain type of mind, but it's a shame really. I won't protest at all though if they get banned. I may gripe, but I won't protest.

I think I'd rather see individual effort and skill rewarded.  

That's why I'm not opposed to players rolling balls and scribbling notes and diagrams during practice rounds, but buying a commercially prepared product like that in the OP tends to negate those individual efforts and skills.

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7 minutes ago, David in FL said:

I think I'd rather see individual effort and skill rewarded.  

That's why I'm not opposed to players rolling balls and scribbling notes and diagrams during practice rounds, but buying a commercially prepared product like that in the OP tends to negate those individual efforts and skills.

Yea, I mean, if a person is a good green reader, you don't even need something like this.

Still, they're cool, and they make life so much easier haha, just because you don't have to think as much or try as hard. I'm sure they speed things up just a hair as well as they make it a lot easier to be decisive on the greens. Knowing that a downhiller is 4% can really tell you how softly you should hit it without expending any mental energy on figuring that out yourself.

So yea, I'm certainly not going to argue with you here that they don't make green reading a lot easier if you can easily read a chart like that, but struggle perhaps reading an actual green. 

So few people know about them though outside the tours that it's cool if you have one for a club championship. You're in rare territory, and it's kind of cool being the only person crazy enough to have one in a club event.

You're right tho that they perhaps go against the spirit of the game in a sense. 

Edited by JetFan1983
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1 minute ago, JetFan1983 said:

I'm sure they speed things up just a hair as well as they make it a lot easier to be decisive on the greens. Knowing that a downhiller is 4% can really tell you how softly you should hit it without expending any mental energy on figuring that out yourself.

I'm not sure that they don't actually slow things down at times.  The players take a while looking at the chart, then they begin to actually look at the putt, and I don't believe they shorten that at all.  I don't have any data, that's simply my impression, but adding data to a situation generally increases the time required to process all of the available data.

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This seems to be bordering on the contradictory.  On the one hand, they're testing distance measuring devices at a few events, while on the other hand, they're looking into banning details about greens.  

Why is green reading is an essential part of putting but figuring out yardage isn't an essential part of everything-that-isn't-putting?

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Just now, DaveP043 said:

I'm not sure that they don't actually slow things down at times.  The players take a while looking at the chart, then they begin to actually look at the putt, and I don't believe they shorten that at all.  I don't have any data, that's simply my impression, but adding data to a situation generally increases the time required to process all of the available data.

Yea you could be right. These guys seem to do whatever they can to slow the game down.

If it's me though, I think it would speed things up. Its so easy to just look at that chart and know what the putt is going to do. 

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Has there been any study on how much using this material actually slows a game down?  I would have thought that this much prep work both speeds up the reading process (there is already a decent idea of slope and direction) and (assuming the powers that be are correct) results in fewer putts, thus requiring fewer times to need to read greens.

Has anyone here used such a chart to their benefit?

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2 minutes ago, MRR said:

Has anyone here used such a chart to their benefit?

I haven't no, but anyone who has done AimPoint or understands grades can easily imagine what it's like to use it. When you use Aimpoint, you're guessing -- or rather, "reading" -- what you think the slope % and slope direction is for your putt. This takes all the guess work out and just tells you what it is. No grinding over "shit, is it a 2 or 3?"  

And honestly, if I used that chart on my home course every time I played, I'd probably have the chart more or less close to memorized after a season. Well, not memorized obviously haha, but after just glancing at a particular green map, I'd recall pretty quickly the contour of the green. 

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2 minutes ago, JetFan1983 said:

I haven't no, but anyone who has done AimPoint or understands grades can easily imagine what it's like to use it. When you use Aimpoint, you're guessing -- or rather, "reading" -- what you think the slope % and slope direction is for your putt. This takes all the guess work out and just tells you what it is. No grinding over "shit, is it a 2 or 3?"  

And honestly, if I used that chart on my home course every time I played, I'd probably have the chart more or less close to memorized after a season. Well, not memorized obviously haha, but after just glancing at a particular green map, I'd recall pretty quickly the contour of the green. 

My first thought when reading the original post was "Aimpoint Express will be seen a lot more".

Similarly, my understanding of reading is that the slope right around the hole is the most important.  I would think that the golfer/caddie could very easily remember that much for each hole, at least.  But I might be expecting too much when I picture a caddie or golfer going out each morning to see where the cup is placed and mentally mapping out preferred shots for the day.

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56 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

I'm not sure how they'd draw a line on this.  For decades, the commercially available yardage guides, like those made by "Gorjus" George Lucas, have included info on grade features on greens, like this one:

http://www.caddybytes.com/new_page_93.htm

The logical next step was the detailed green mapping.  If you "outlaw" green mapping, do you also prohibit the very generic green contour information that those old-style yardage books provided?

I'm also curious as to how they'd implement something like this.  Unless they went whole hog and just banned books altogether; combine it with the allowance of DMDs? Obviously, that is a bit radical, but who knows?

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1 minute ago, MRR said:

My first thought when reading the original post was "Aimpoint Express will be seen a lot more".

Similarly, my understanding of reading is that the slope right around the hole is the most important.  I would think that the golfer/caddie could very easily remember that much for each hole, at least.  But I might be expecting too much when I picture a caddie or golfer going out each morning to see where the cup is placed and mentally mapping out preferred shots for the day.

Read more  

Ahh, okay, so you know Aimpoint. 

Re: the slope right around the hole being the most important, I think that's debatable, particularly when using Aimpoint. Yes the ball is slowing down so it will be more affected by the break around the hole, but Aimpoint already factors that in when you get your read, which is typically taken from the middle of a particular plane you're on. 

Someone correct me if I'm wrong/explained that badly. :-)

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Yeah, I'm not sure how you draw the line and implement something like this.

Conceptually, it makes sense to me.  The actual execution could be difficult.  It'll be interesting to hear what happens.

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(Personally, I kind of like going onto a new green and trying to figure out with eyeballs alone....that said)

The charts don't bother me at all.  As long as everyone has access, then it's a level playing field.

One might argue that since the tour plays the same courses over and over, these charts may help the newer pros catch up to those guys that have a ton exposure.

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