The USGA is concerned that players have access to too much information when it comes to the topography of putting greens. Consider the detail of the putting green drawing to the right which has a directional arrow and a slope reading for practically every square foot! For more information on this topic, check out a very interesting Golf Digest article that shows how technology is being used to develop extremely detailed green-reading maps for players: www.golfdigest.com/story/gimme-a-break-green-reading-maps.
Given this concern, the USGA and The R&A are jointly proposing limitations on the level of detail in green-reading materials, thereby affirming the need for a player to rely on his or own judgement, skill and ability to assess lines of putt.
According to the USGA, following a six-week period of feedback and consultation with interested parties that began on July 31, regulations will be finalized in a published “interpretation” of Rule 4.3 (Use of Equipment) when golf’s new rules take effect on January 1, 2019. Per the announcement issued by the Ruling Bodies, the key elements of the proposed interpretation are as follows:
- Minimum Slope Indication Limit – A minimum slope indication limit of 4 percent (2.29 degrees) is proposed (this includes lines, arrows, numbers or any other indicators); this will have the effect of eliminating such indicators of slope from those areas of the putting green where the hole is most likely to be positioned (which tend to be cut on reasonably flat sections of the putting green with a degree of slope of less than 3.5 percent – or 2 degrees). This proposed limit also equates roughly with the amount of slope that is readily visible to the naked eye.
- Maximum Scale Limit – A maximum scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480) is proposed; this will limit the size in print form to a pocket-sized publication and has the effect of restricting the space for handwritten notes (also referenced below).
- Indicative Information – General information that is included in traditional yardage books or course guides, such as basic illustrations that show the outline of the putting green and include indicative information like the tops of ridges or general slopes, will continue to be permitted.
- Handwritten Notes – Handwritten notes will continue to be allowed, but such notes cannot be used to create either a direct copy or a facsimile (replica) of a detailed green map.
Here is the draft regulation, including the accompanying diagrams, for your review:
Here’s your chance to be part of the process! If you are at all interested in commenting on this proposed regulation, you are invited to contact the USGA at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions, feedback or suggestions for improvement prior to September 14, 2018. The governing bodies plan on issuing the regulation by October 15, 2018 in advance of its planned adoption on January 1, 2019.