Can a Green Book help your game?

Rules of Golf

Valuable tool or taking the skill out of green reading? Steve Carroll investigates what the controversial Green Book actually brings to your game

Would it help or hurt me on the course?

Jonathan: I would hope that I was a pretty good green reader and that would be an advantage for me. So I would think the Green Book is bad for me (in terms of my opponents and the field) because it takes away an advantage of mine.

Yes, I can use it to read but if someone else gets the gist of it they are going to take one of my little elements away.

It levels the playing field. Some people would argue, for example, that since we went to a modern driver, which is very forgiving, it doesn’t favour the good drivers as much as it used to.

Now, for most of the players, the ball is coming off with less shape and actually they can bomb it and apply a bit more force.

There is a level that the skill of hitting the driver has disappeared in the game. With this, there is an element that green reading will be neutralised a little bit.

Steve: There’s little doubt it would be of help to me. I do think I have a statistical mind and enjoy using data – and am prepared to elevate that above visual senses – to try and get results. It’s very rare, for example, I’ll take to a new course without having a yardage book in tow and I’d consider a Green Book as part of the package.

So what’s our overall view?

Jonathan: For me, there are a couple of things. It takes an element of the skill level and green reading out of there, and undoubtedly it makes play slower on the main tours.

With all the changes in the game, and now that we are looking to speed play up, this makes it a little bit too slow for me.

I quite enjoyed using it and I think it could save you maybe a shot a round, which is massive. But it could save someone who doesn’t read the greens a couple of shots and, as a competitor, I don’t think that’s a great thing.

Steve: Once I got into the swing of it and, crucially, got used to the numbers, this book had a profound effect on my putting – particularly on those from distance.

I have a habit of underestimating break on those, and especially on Close House’s sloping greens. It’s hard to argue, though, when you consult the book and the arrows are pointing straight right. I found myself trusting the book rather than my eyes the longer we went on.

I don’t know whether we were paying more attention to the information on this first occasion, but that twoball left us for dead in the six holes we played.

There seems little chance, without a fair amount of forward planning and consistency, that this wouldn’t slow down my average weekend fourball.

But, on the whole, I enjoyed using the book and think it’s a similar help to yardage books, which also tell you where the humps and hollows are on the fairway and where the lines of sight are for a drive.

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