That is the question Jim Stracka is asking the U.S. Golf Association and R&A after the two governing bodies announced Tuesday that they would be regulating green-reading materials.
“I don’t understand why they are doing it,” said Stracka, who is president of StrackaLine, the company that for 10 years has been producing green-reading guides for PGA Tour golfers, more than 300 Division I college golf teams and more.
Stracka said he first heard discussion of this decision weeks before the British Open. He also had conversations with USGA executive director Mike Davis in the past in which he asked Davis to consider the statistics and seek out Mark Broadie for help.
“Putting stats haven’t changed in 25 years,” Stracka told Golfweek via phone on Tuesday. “PGA Tour pros are still making about 50 percent of their putts from inside of 8 feet. … There is no exactness in putting.”
However, R&A executive director of governance David Rickman said “the 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 judgment required to read subtle slopes on the greens.”
Stracka argues that his service is more of a time-saver for golfers who have the ability to chart and map out greens on their own. Plus, he believes that banning the guides could give golfers who use local caddies, particularly those not on major tours, an advantage in tournaments.
Also, Stracka said the new rule creates a quagmire of potential problems, especially when enforcing the rule.
“It’s a piece of paper,” Stracka said. “How do they limit what you put on a piece of paper?”
Stracka also points out that the USGA example of a conforming green guide, which depicts a mapping of the 18th green at St. Andrews’ Old Course, is actually non-conforming when taking into account the stipulation of disallowing indicators where there is a slope of less than 4 percent (2.29 degrees). On the example, Stracka insists there are arrows in “illegal” areas of the green.
“Their example is not correct,” Stracka said, “so how do they expect people to distinguish what’s legal and not legal?”
Stracka wants to stress that his company will continue to make the green guides that they currently provide. However, he also said he will work with the USGA to also create new, conforming guides.
“Our customers will get both,” Stracka said.
Still, he questions the decision of the governing bodies.
“I’m not worried,” Stracka said. “But my biggest concern is why are they doing a blanket ruling? It would be perfect as a local rule.”