There is quite a buzz on the PGA Tour right now regarding green reading books. You have seen golfers pull these books out of their bags for many years and examine their notes and information about how the green ahead of them will perform.

Green reading books are not new to golf, and many professional tour players are very accustomed to having them in their game. At Torrey Pines, the green reading books were banned, and it looks as though things are going to continue that way. Will this ban on green reading books make it to your local golf course? Let’s look a bit closer into this decision and why it came to be.

What Are Green Reading Books?

A green reading book is a resource that a tour player or golfer of any handicap can use to learn more about how the greens break and perform. The green reading book has a laser rendering of the green, and it typically has a pin placement in the book.

Golfers on the PGA Tour purchase these green reading books for each day of the event, and they are updated with the proper position of the pins. With the U.S Open being held at Torrey Pines, the USGA Advisory Council decided that they were going to get rid of the green reading books.

Some players are outraged by this decision, and other players like Rory McIlroy think it is the proper move. Regardless of what the players are saying, it made for an interesting week at Torrey Pines with many changes.

Which Golfers Use Green Reading Books?

When it comes to tour players, almost all of them will use a green reading book. In addition, if the PGA Tour player is not using the book, chances are their caddy is looking at it during the course of a round.

One thing that makes the ban so difficult for golfers is that reading these books is part of their pre-shot routine. There are so many times you have seen the PGA Tour player pull the book out of their back pocket, take a quick look, put it back in, and strike the ball.

These routines are worked on and perfected, and they are performed the same way every time. When you take away a part of the way that a PGA Tour player will pay the hole, it can be quite disruptive. In addition, they will be missing out on some of the information that the books had in them.

Negative Impacts of Green Reading Books

With all of the great information these books had about the slope and break and line of the putts, why is the USGA so set on removing them from the course. There are two major reasons behind this decision. The first is the pace of play, and the second is the integrity of the game of golf.

Green Reading Is A Skill

To make the cut on tour each week, you need to be good at reading a green. Although a caddie is a helpful person to have on the course with you, they will not win the championship for you. Golfers need to know how to read greens and make the putt.

Knowing which way your putt is going to break and learning which putts are fast, slow, against the grain, etc., is something that all players need to do. Therefore the USGA feels as though the green reading books are giving up to much information.

Slowing Down Of Play

In addition to bringing back the skill of reading greens, the UGS feels as though the books are slowing down the pace of play. During the course of a round, as players continually pull the books out, they take more and more time.

For many years the Masters has been played without these books, and the process has gone just fine. This probably led to the USGA realizing if the Master’s Tournament can go without, so can many of the others on the PGA Tour circuit.

Will Local Courses Ban Green Reading Books?

So what does all of this mean to you at your local club? For the most part, we expect green reading books to stay in place for quite some time. As a member of a club enjoying a weekend round, there is no reason that you should have to leave this valuable putting information at home.

Justin Porter, Director of Sales at Strackaline, the leader in greens guides told us:

“As of right now, it appears that the only ban would be from the PGA Tour so in other words not from the USGA .  So therefore collegiate golf nor amateur golfers would not be affected.  Also, our PGA tour customers will continue to purchase books from us regardless of the ban considering they will use them for their practice rounds and to take notes in their yardage books.  We have heard the same from some of our collegiate customers as far if there is in fact a ban, that they would continue to purchase the books for practice and preparation.”

Golf Digest recently posted about Strackaline making a case against the PGA Ban which you can read here

However, years ago, the USGA and the PGA realized that pace of play was a major reason why golfers were quitting golf. If your club has an issue with the pace of play, sometimes banning these green reading books can help to speed things up.

For the most part, amateur golfers will not be (or shouldn’t be!) spending quite as much time examining the details of these books. If you play the same three courses over and over again, you should have a good memory of how the greens break. Sometimes PGA Tour professionals don’t have this luxury as they may have only played the course a few times.

Expect to see some changes as far as green reading books are concerned when it comes to your club championship or local events, but for everyday golfers, we doubt there will be any impact.


The U.S Open at Torrey Pines proved to be quite exciting. Whether or not it was the lack of green reading books that caused the top players to start breaking down on the final holes, we will never know. However, there is one thing about the game of golf that we all should pay close attention to the rules are ever changing.

As this historical game continues to try and conform and adapt to our modern world, there are likely going to be more bans, additions, and rules changes through the years. Players have to adjust and make sure that they perfect their practice of green reading. Whether or not this is going to speed up play remains to be seen. We think you may just see players and caddies circling the hole a dozen times before they make a stroke! For more information be sure to check out AEC Info.