USGA, R&A officially limit size and scale of putting-green maps

SOUTHAMPTON, NY - JUNE 14: Tiger Woods of the United States checks his yardage book on the seventh green during the first round of the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on June 14, 2018 in Southampton, New York. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) Warren Little/Getty Images

USGA, R&A officially limit size and scale of putting-green maps

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USGA, R&A officially limit size and scale of putting-green maps

The U.S. Golf Association and R&A finalized their decision on the use of green-reading materials, releasing their new interpretation of Rule 4.3 that will go into effect Jan. 1, 2019.

The new-look Rule 4.3 (Use of Equipment), finalized after a six-week feedback period, places limits on size and scale of putting-green maps and disallows any similar electronic or digital materials that a player may use during a round to assist with reading the line of play on the putting green.

But it does not completely ban putting-green maps or other putting-green information.

“These latest modifications provide very practical changes that make the interpretation easier to understand and apply in the field,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s 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.”

Here is a detailed look at the requirements, per the official USGA release:

  • Any image of a putting green must be limited to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480) or smaller (the “scale limit”).
  • Any book or other paper containing a map or image of a putting green must not be larger than 4 ¼ inches x 7 inches (the “size limit”), although a “hole location sheet” that displays nine or more holes on a single sheet of paper may be larger, provided that any image of a single putting green meets the scale limit.
  • No magnification of putting-green information is allowed other than a player’s normal wearing of prescription glasses or lenses.
  • Hand-drawn or written information about a putting green is only allowed if contained in a book or paper meeting the size limit and written by the player and/or his or her caddie.
  • 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:

  • Increasing the size of the green’s representation beyond the scale or size limits.
  • Producing a recommended line of play based on the location (or estimated location) of the player’s ball (see Rule 4.3a(1)).

There were a couple of recommended changes in the original proposal that weren’t included in the final interpretation. Handwritten player and caddie notes to create a copy or facsimile of a detailed green map are still allowed. Also, there will be no required minimum slope indication of 4 percent.

The USGA and R&A said it will continue to evaluate the future development and use of green-reading materials, and see if further modifications are necessary.

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