For its apostles, it has an almost magical quality – like someone has given you a map to golfing treasure and drawn a big X to an accuracy of 0.5mm.
It’s critics regard it as a nothing less than heresy – a false idol that takes away one of the essential skills of the game and slows it to a crawl.
Green Books, though, aren’t going away.
The R&A and USGA agonised over what to do with them, releasing the Interpretation on Putting Green Information in the summer and then changing pretty much everything that was substantive in that document when the finalised rules were released in October.
The way they will be produced, and the level of detail they will be able to show, has changed, but they are likely to remain as much of a fixture on Tour as they have been over the last couple of years.
So what does Paul Homersham, founder of the Green Book, think of the controversy and how does he plan to adapt to the new rules? We caught up with him to find out…
Do you think the average golfer misunderstands the Green Book?
Without a doubt, it is misunderstood – but it is misunderstood by people who haven’t tried to use it.
Like many tools, some people aren’t suited to using it. For many golfers, it just doesn’t work for them.
I showed Rory McIlroy how to use the product and he used it with some success for a while. But for a player to take himself out of his zone – where he is trying to read and get a feel for what he is about to do – and to go into a technical publication and start to analyse data can take their attention away.
There are a significant number of players who don’t engage with it and don’t want to use it. The number one putter on the PGA Tour, Jason Day, doesn’t use the Green Book.
I do believe it can help but it isn’t for everybody. So the statement that it makes reading greens too easy, and deskills it, just isn’t true.
In fact, if you use it badly it will prevent you from sinking putts. It’s like learning how to use AimPoint. This information can be used but you need to know how and how not to use it.
You produce two versions – one for tour professionals and a version that appears in clubs and is a little less detailed. Is it about fitting the information to the audience?
Very much so and different players prefer different types of information. Some of them mostly use it for approach shots, so they can leave themselves below the pin and others so they know how the ball is going to release.
We’ve adapted the graphics to try and help as many as possible.
The good news for us, mostly, is that it’s business as usual. The scale and size limits imposed don’t affect very much of what we do, 90% of the books we publish will still work.
Under the new limits, the dimensions you will be able to show are 3/8 inch to 5 yards. How will that affect the books we see on the course right now?
None of the books we have published would be legal for use but we’re experimenting with what kind of information we can get into a much smaller area that’s still usable.
It’s going to take away some level of detail but caddies and players, if they are keen enough, are going to be able to make notes.
The book size is limited but if they wanted to, say, take the detail out of what is on a [current] bottom page and produce a version of those – making a copy using a pencil or pen – they can still use more information if they want.
Which they will – with millions of dollars at stake…
There are other factors that limit the use of really good detailed information and one of those is the position and accuracy of the pin positions the players are given.
There’s no point in having very accurate information if you don’t know where the pin is within a couple of yards.
But, yes, certain types of players who like working this way will go to the effort of still getting the detailed information and making their own notes.
So how much smaller will the Green Book be and how does Homersham think the professionals will adapt to the new regulations? Find out on the next page…