Green-Reading Materials: FAQs

The below responses relating to Interpretation 4.3a/1 that limits the use of Green-Reading Materials are effective January 2019 when the new Rules go into effect.

1.     When do the limitations on using green-reading materials apply?

The Interpretation limits the materials that a player may use during a round to help with reading his or her line of play on the putting green so that a player’s ability to read a green remains an essential part of the skill of putting. Consequently, the limitations apply:

  • to any stroke a player makes from the putting green, and
  • to a stroke made with a putter from anywhere when the player’s intention is for the ball to come to rest on the putting green.

2.     Can a player use a yardage or green book that contains images that do not meet the “scale limit” or the book itself does not meet the “size limit” without breaching Rule 4.3?

A player is not allowed to use a yardage or green book that does not meet both the scale and size limits to help read a line of play on a putting green.

However, the player can use such a book for other reasons without penalty (such as determining how far and where to hit an approach shot into a green, including determining general slopes on the putting green when playing such an approach shot, or determining a desired location on the putting green where the player wants to leave the ball for his or her next stroke, provided that in all such cases the player does not use a putter for the stroke).

3.     Are putting green images hand drawn by the player or caddie required to meet the “size limit” requirement of the interpretation?

Yes, any handwritten notes (including hand drawn images of putting greens) must be contained in a book or on paper that meet the size limit of 4 ¼ x 7 inches, regardless of the level of detail included.

4.     Are putting green images hand drawn by the player or caddie required to meet the “scale limit” requirement of the interpretation?

No, hand drawn images are not required to meet the scale limit. The only limitation on such handwritten notes is that they are recorded in a book or on paper that meets the size limit (see Question 3).

5.     May a player use an oversize image of a putting green map (for example, on an 8 ½ x 11” sheet of paper) to help determine the line of play for an approach shot?

Yes, provided the player does not use a putter for the stroke.  

6.     Are notes created with the help of a computer design program (such as computer aided design (CAD))  produced by a player or caddie considered “handwritten”?

No.  While CAD can be used to produce a putting green map that meets the scale and size limits, the regulations on “handwritten” notes only apply to notes that are physically written or drawn by the player or the caddie.

7.     May a player or caddie photocopy (or the like) handwritten notes from another player or caddie and use that photocopy to help determine the line of play on the putting green?

No. Using  photocopied notes to help determine the line of play on the putting green is the same as using the notes from another player or caddie, which is not allowed.  

8.     If one or more images in a book exceed the “scale limit” can the player use a photocopier as a means of reducing an image in order to meet the scale limit?

Yes.

9.     May a player use a book to determine the line of play on the putting green that has seventeen green images that meet the scale limit but one that does not?

Yes, but the player would not be allowed to use the book to help determine the line of play on the putting green on the one hole that does not meet the scale limit.

The player would be allowed to use the other seventeen green images that meet the scale limit in any manner, including to help determine the line of play on the putting green.

10.  May caddies exchange information and copy, by hand, each other’s notes before or between rounds?

Yes. The limitation on handwritten notes is only that any hand drawn or written information about a putting green must be physically written by the player and/or his or her caddie. This does not limit how a player or caddie obtains the information, even if through copying, by hand, pre-produced materials or notes from another player or caddie.

11.  If a player begins his or her round with caddie A, but then switches to caddie B during the round, may the player and caddie B use a yardage or green book that contains handwritten notes produced by caddie A to help determine the line of play on the putting green?

In the limited circumstances where a player changes caddies during a round (for example, if caddie A were to get sick), the player would be allowed to continue to use both caddie A’s and caddie B’s handwritten notes for the remainder of that round. However, for any subsequent round, only notes written by the player and/or the current caddie (i.e., caddie employed during that round) may be used to help determine the line of play on the putting green.

12.  If a player changes from caddie A to caddie B between rounds during a competition (or if a competition is played on the same course each season), may the player and caddie B use a yardage or green book that contains handwritten notes produced by caddie A to help determine the line of play on the putting green?

No. Any hand drawn or written information about a putting green may only be used to read the line of play on the putting green if written by the player and/or his or her caddie. This means the caddie employed by the player during that round (caddie B). However, this does not prohibit the player or caddie B from copying, by hand, any handwritten notes that were previously created by caddie A before the round begins.

13.  May a coach or captain that has been assigned as an advice giver either put notes in a player’s book, or use his or her own book to show the player when giving advice?

Yes. While the interpretation states that any notes are limited to only the player or caddie, when an advice giver has been identified to the Committee for a given round, that advice giver’s book and his or her notes are treated in the same way as the player’s caddie’s notes.

14.  May a player use the notes from a partner or the partner’s caddie in Foursomes or Four-ball competitions?

Yes. While the interpretation states that any notes are limited to only the player or caddie, Rule 22.2 and 23.5a are clear in stating that a partner or the partner’s caddie may provide guidance.

However, if the player plans to use that book in subsequent rounds or competitions at that course, any notes written by the partner or the partner’s caddie in the player’s book would not be allowed to be used in a future round to help the player determine the line of play on the putting green, unless the player had the same partner or partner’s caddie for that round.

Note: Developers are encouraged to indicate on the cover or within a book’s legend the scale of green images as well as the overall size of the book. For example:

Putting green images are scaled at 3/8” to 5 yards or less and the book’s size is 6” x 4”