The era of green-reading books, or green books for short, may effectively be over in 2019.
Golfweek reports the game's governing bodies, the USGA and R&A, have agreed in principle to greatly restricting the usage and content of green books beginning with the new rules cycle on Jan. 1. While the organizations will not outright ban green books, they will issue new language and guidance around what kinds of information -- both in terms of topographic drawings and printed grade percentages -- can be in such books.
Green books have become popular in recent years among pro golfers, using the topographic maps and dynamic grading information to give them a better idea of how putts break across putting surfaces. However, the green books have given rulemakers pause for several reasons. The governing bodies believe green books reduce the skill required in reading greens, asserting that is a key skill golfers should demonstrate in playing the game. Furthermore, players' increasing reliance on green books has taken more time and hurt pace of play, which is always a hot subject in golf circles.
Many pro golfers have considered the change already written in the stars for 2019. A good number of them welcome the ruling.
Though the change in green book content will affect amateurs, most amateurs have never seen a green book up close or used one. That means this change won't really impact their game, while it will allow the governing bodies to restore some skill to the highest levels of the game.
Both the USGA and R&A acknowledged last year they were looking into green books, but they did not directly confirm Golfweek's reporting in statements to the publication.