Are Golf Yardage Books Legal

Anthony Lee - Jan 01 2020

Are Golf Yardage Books Legal

MOne of the main goals of the USGA is to ensure that the game of golf as we know it remains the same for years to come. Sometimes changes in technology or information can give certain golfers a disadvantage, and the USGA aims to protect players from that. Golf yardage books have been talked about in the last several years as perhaps having too much information or an unfair advantage to certain players. Here are the current USGA requirements for golf yardage books. 

Golf Yardage Book USGA Rules

MThe most important rule from the USGA regarding yardage books is the overall size and scale. If you had a standard piece of paper out there with a representation of each hole, it might be a bit too much information when determining slope. The USGA wants you to have the information to play great golf and make it fair.

Size Requirement. There is a scale and size requirement of a yardage book that it must stay within the 4 ¼ x 7-inch size. Most yardage book companies, including Green Books, work within these parameters to make it easier for amateur golfers to use these yardage books in tournaments and events, as well as for everyday play. 

Hand Drawn Images. The USGA allows golfers to make notes inside their yardage book as long as the size of the book stays within the 4 ¼ x 7 inch size. If you happen to see an area of the green that needs particular attention when playing your next tournament, you can do so within the USGA rules of golf. 

Scale. The scale of the greens in a golf yardage book or green reading book can not exceed ⅜ of an inch for every 5 yards. If any of the greens in the book exceed this scale, the golfer cannot use this information to putt on that hole.

Golf Yardage Books and the PGA Tour 

There is quite a bit of confusion currently about the golf yardage books and the legality on the PGA Tour. In early 2022, the PGA Tour adopted a local rule that banned the use of green reading books or yardage books on the PGA Tour. This has no impact on the USGA rules and scale and size requirements for amateur golfers and even those playing in other tournaments not associated with the PGA Tour.

The PGA Tour does allow golfers to use a PGA Tour-approved green information booklet that has some information and numbers to help make it easier for golfers to learn about the green. However, traditional slope and gradient information are no longer included.

Players and caddies can make notes to their yardage books, but they must not obtain any information using a rangefinder with slope technology. Players' experience and first-hand knowledge are always considered legal forms of obtaining information. 

Final Thoughts

You may hear a lot of talk about golf yardage books being illegal, but this is not the case. The PGA Tour has simply adopted a local rule to ensure that the playing field is a bit more even. Amateur golfers and those not playing in PGA Tour events must simply meet the size and scale requirements of a golf yardage book. 

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