While the exact wording as to how green reading books will be defanged is set to come in the coming weeks, I report for Golfweek on the USGA and R&A having agreed to new language that will take the teeth out of green reading books starting January 1, 2019.
As noted in the Golfweek exclusive, the restrictions on presentation and information allowed will be made to protect the art of green reading. But there are also slow play considerations as players have begun to study the books on all parts of the course. Hole locations are calculated for players the night prior, which has never exactly exuded a sense that golfers are playing the course as they find it.
The move is fascinating in the context of other issues facing the governing bodies on distance and de-skilling. By going after a technological advance that they view as de-skilling the game, the stage is set to consider an array of factors that have led to major distance increases. Could this lead to considering a reduction of driver head size or some other restriction to restore skill?
While I've never been offended by players using the books from a play perspective, the books become are offensive when players are not penalized for taking longer than 40 seconds.
For the sport, defanging green reading books will impact only elite players and college golfers, but will certainly lay the groundwork for future discussions on the de-skilling topic.