Once again there is interesting news from The R&A and USGA.
On July 31st 2018 they published a joint statement announcing their intention to change the Rules of Golf regarding green reading materials, e.g. books with detailed information about the slopes etc.
The reason is that they consider a fundamental part of golf is to be able to read the putting green yourself without (too much!) help. They are not going to prohibit such material entirely, though.
The material comes into two main categories:
- Published material (e.g. books and apps).
- Handwritten notes.
Below are the four key elements of the proposal:
- It is suggested that the material must not show slopes under a certain minimum, namely 4 % (= 2,29 degrees). Thus the places on the putting green, where the slope is smaller than that, must not be shown (the slope) in the material. Since the hole typically is placed on a quite flat spot, the player thereby most often will not get any help to read the slope around the hole.
- There will be a limitation as to the scale, i.e. 1:480. Thereby it is avoided that the material can be very big and thereby show too many details. If the putting green e.g is 26 yards long, it must not be larger than approximately 2 inches in the material.
- Such general indicative information, that you e.g. find in yardage books and course guides will not be prohibited. Examples are: “…basic illustrations that show the outline of the putting green and include indicative information like the tops of ridges or general slopes” (quote R&A’s website).
- Handwritten notes will also be allowed, as long as they meet the above mentioned requirements. You are e.g. not allowed on an existing map to handwrite slopes under 4 %.
If the material is digital, then…:
- …it must be fixed, which in my understanding means that you must not be able to zoom in (or out) and thereby see something more clear (e.g. in a higher resolution or revealing more details).
- … it must not suggest a line of putt, based on the placement of the ball and the hole, compared to the slope.
The change will be an “interpretation”, which means that it will be a part of the upcoming “Guidelines book”, that will be published/revealed later this year. There will be six weeks for interested parties to comment on the suggested interpretation.
The new interpretation will go into effect January 1st 2019 along with all the other changes.