Global Edition

R&A and USGA Finalise Limits On Use Of Green-Reading Materials

2.52pm 19th October 2018 - Management Topics

The R&A and the USGA have published the finalised interpretation regarding the use of green-reading materials in golf which will come into effect on 1 January 2019.

The new interpretation of Rule 4.3 (Use of Equipment) has been introduced following a six-week feedback period. It reaffirms the governing bodies’ view that the ability of golfers to read greens using their own judgement is an essential skill that should be maintained, while defining how such materials may be used.

The interpretation limits the size and scale of detailed putting-green maps and any similar electronic or digital materials that a player may use during a round to assist with reading his or her line of play on the putting green.

David Rickman, Executive Director – Governance at The R&A said, “We received some extremely useful feedback over the last six weeks which has helped us finalise the limits. It is important that we take steps to ensure that skill and judgement are the main determinants of success in reading the greens. The new interpretation is a first step in the process and we will keep green-reading materials under review in 2019 to assess whether any further action is required.”

“These latest modifications provide very practical changes that make the interpretation easier to understand and apply in the field,” said Thomas Pagel, USGA Senior Managing Director of Governance. “We’re thankful for everyone’s willingness to provide feedback as we worked through the process of identifying a clear interpretation that protects the essential skill of reading a green, while still allowing for information that helps golfers enjoy the game.”

Golfers may continue to use a putting-green map or other putting-green information, except that:

The final interpretation also clearly defines that any use of electronic or digital putting-green maps must comply with the same limits.  A player is still in breach of Rule 4.3 if the player uses any device not consistent with the purpose of the limits, including:

3D Scanning at Woburn

Some of the changes made to the original proposal following the feedback period include the removal of: (1) the proposed minimum slope indication limit of 4% and (2) the prohibition against using handwritten notes to create a copy or facsimile of a detailed green map.

Additions to the original proposal include: (1) a new size limit for the printed book/material (restricted to pocket-size), (2) a new prohibition against magnification of putting green information and (3) a new requirement that any hand-drawn or written information must be in a book or on a paper meeting the size limit and must be written by the player and/or his or her caddie.

The R&A and the USGA will continue to evaluate the future development and use of green-reading materials as they ascertain the impact of the new interpretation to see if further modifications are necessary.

For more information about the new Rules of Golf please visit or

Speaking on behalf of Clere Golf, publishers of The Green Book, Steve Richardson, Director, told GBN: “We welcome with the recent announcement from the R&A and USGA which allows the continued use of our green information across golf at all levels.

“The Green Book is all about providing good, accurate green information that can be interpreted quickly and easily. The feedback from players and coaches we’ve worked with is that our books help them make faster and better-informed decisions both on the green and with their approach shots.

“So for Clere Golf it’s business as usual. We continue to develop what is widely recognised as the world’s best Green Book while ensuring it conforms to the new rules. It’s also exciting times for club golfers, as we continue to develop versions of The Green Book that every golfer can benefit from.”


The Green Book

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