San Diego — The PGA Tour is close to banning green reading books before the start of next season, but four-time major champion Rory McIlroy isn’t sure that’s enough to even the playing field on the greens.
Speaking the day before the start of the 121st U.S. Open on the South Course at Torrey Pines, McIlroy wouldn’t confirm whether the PGA Tour Players Advisory Council voted to outlaw the books, which provide golfers and their caddies detailed information about course green slopes. But, he said he and most other players are in favor of eliminating them.
“Look, everything that’s talked about in those meetings is somewhat confidential, but what I can say [is that] I use a greens book, and I’d like to get rid of them,” McIlroy said Wednesday. “I think everyone is in the same boat, most guys on tour are in the same boat, that if it’s going to be available to us and it helps us, people are going to use it. But I think for the greater good of the game, I’d like to see them be outlawed and for them not to be used anymore.”
The Players Advisory Council voted two weeks ago to outlaw the greens books, according to a report by Golfweek on Wednesday. The full board of the PGA Tour might vote on the recommendation as early as next week at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut.
The ban would reportedly take effect at the start of the 2021-22 season, which is slated to begin a few weeks after the Tour Championship in Atlanta in September.
Defending U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau is among the players who are proponents of using the books.
Currently, the Masters is the only tournament that doesn’t permit their use. “It’s not that it’s an advantage really, it’s just taking away a skill that takes time and practice to be mastered,” McIlroy said. “I think reading greens is a real skill that some people are better at than others, and it just nullifies that. It nullifies that advantage that people have. “Yeah, honestly, I think it’s made everyone lazier. People don’t put in the time to prepare the way they used to, and that’s why you see so many more players at Augusta, for example, take their time around the greens, hit so many more putts. It’s because they have to. It’s because there is no greens book at Augusta.” McIlroy said banning the books might speed up competitive rounds because players won’t spend so much time using them on the greens.
“It might make practice rounds a little longer, and you might have to do a little bit more work,” he said. “But I think once we get to the tournament rounds, it will speed up play, and I think it will help the guys who really have done their homework, it will help them stand out a little bit more.”
McIlroy said he isn’t sure banning the greens reading books is enough. In 2013, the USGA and R&A voted to ban anchoring a putter against the torso. The rules took effect on Jan.1, 2016.
Recently, arm-lock putting, in which players lock the grip of their putters against their forearms, has become prevalent. DeChambeau, Webb Simpson, Will Zalatoris, Keegan Bradley, Matt Kuchar and others are using the technique.
Xander Schauffele switched to the technique earlier this month at The Memorial. “My putting coach, my whole team honestly, we’re very against change, and I had to see what the craze was about,” Schauffele said then. “I do feel funny, obviously being a top-10 putter on tour, switching putters or the style of putting. It’s a distinct advantage. I am for banning the armlock putters, but if everyone else is going to use it and I feel like they have a bigger advantage, I may as well do the same.” When McIlroy was asked by a reporter on Wednesday if anchor putting should also be banned, he said, “I thought we got rid of anchoring putting three years ago.”
“I don’t know, did we?” the reporter asked. “No, probably not,” McIlroy said. “Yeah, that is certainly something that I would like to see addressed as well, and I think there’s a common consensus with the players on that one, too. Look, the game of golf is in a great place. I think we always have these conversations of what we can do to make the game better or grow the game or expand the game.”