31 July 2018, St Andrews, Scotland and Liberty Corner, N.J., USA: – The R&A and the USGA are proposing regulations regarding the use of green-reading materials, reaffirming the need for a player to read greens based on their own judgement, skill and ability.
Following a six-week period of feedback and consultation with interested parties that begins today, the regulations will be finalised in a published "interpretation" of Rule 4.3 (Use of Equipment) and adopted 1 January 2019, when golf's new rules take effect.
David Rickman, Executive Director – Governance at The R&A, said, "We have looked carefully at the use of these green-reading materials and the extremely detailed information they provide and our view is that they tip the balance too far away from the essential skill and judgement required to read subtle slopes on the greens. It is important to be clear, however, that we still regard the use of yardage books and handwritten notes to be an entirely appropriate part of the game."
"Both the USGA and The R&A are committed to the position that a player's ability to read their line of play on the putting green is an essential skill that should be retained," said Thomas Pagel, Senior Director, Rules of Golf and Amateur Status for the USGA. "The focus of the interpretation is to develop an approach that is both effective and enforceable."
The key elements of the proposed interpretation are as follows:
Interested parties are encouraged to contact The R&A at email@example.com or the USGA with questions, feedback or suggestions for improvement prior to 14 September 2018. The draft interpretation and illustrations can be viewed here
The governing bodies will issue the regulation by no later than 15 October 2018 for its planned adoption on 1 January 2019.