The PGA Tour is likely to ban the controversial green-reading books used by many of its players before the start of next season, Golfweek has learned. The Tour’s Player Advisory Council voted to outlaw the books at a meeting two weeks ago. Support for the ban among the 16 players who comprise the Council was described by one person who was present as “overwhelming.”
The issue will now be voted on by the full board of the PGA Tour, perhaps as early as next week.
Green-reading books have grown in popularity in recent years with almost every elite Tour player using them, even some who have advocated banning the aid. Critics say the books offer too much assistance, effectively negating the skill of reading putts. The books feature highly detailed illustrations that note the direction and degree of slope from anywhere on the putting surface.
Bryson DeChambeau, a famously data-driven player, is among the most faithful users of the guides. The Masters is the only tournament that does not permit their use.
The Players Advisory Council met at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio on Tuesday, June 1. Jon Rahm, one of its members, joined the meeting virtually because he was subject to contract tracing for a Covid-19 exposure. He later tested positive and was forced to withdraw before the final round of the event when he held a six-stroke lead. The PAC is currently chaired by Rory McIlroy and includes players like Justin Thomas, Billy Horschel and Zach Johnson.
Sep 6, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Dustin Johnson chefs his yardage book at the on the 9th green during the third round of the Tour Championship golf tournament at East Lake Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports
PAC meetings are also usually attended by the four most recent past chairs of the Council, a group that currently includes Jordan Spieth, Charley Hoffman, James Hahn and Kevin Kisner. All four are player directors on the board of the PGA Tour.
One player who was present at the meeting said support for the ban was strong.
“It was overwhelming. It wasn’t close,” he said. The player requested anonymity because PAC members are not authorized to publicly discuss their deliberations.
“The books should be banned,” the player added. “Green reading is a skill to be learned.”
The books also get a decidedly mixed reception among caddies on Tour. One veteran looper who has worked for multiple major winners welcomed the effort to ban them. “We’ll save $170 a week,” he cracked, referring to the purchase price of the book. “Also it will speed up play. I’m sure of that.”
“I used to caddie for a player and when I asked him if he wanted a greens book for the week he said, “Of course I do! It will save me from bending over,” recalled another Tour bagman. “That says it all.”
The vote by players now moves the issue before the full board of the PGA Tour, which will decide whether to vote on and ratify the motion. A source familiar with the procedures of the Board said there is rarely a great deal of debate at the board level when an issue has overwhelming support from the PAC.
One member of the PAC told Golfweek that he expects the ban will be implemented in time for the 2021-2022 season. That season begins in just three months after the FedEx Cup playoffs conclude in September. The full board of the PGA Tour is scheduled to meet on June 22 in Connecticut at the Travelers Championship. That is the only board meeting that is planned before the start of the ’21-’22 season, meaning a vote to ban the green-reading books may come as early as next week.