June 22, 2021

Golf pros call for controversial ‘green reading books’ to be red-flagged


Greens: too easy to read? (Image by _PaolaF_ from Pixabay)

We’re interested in books of all kinds here at Melville House, and this story from the world of golf features one of the most unusual.

Green-reading books help golfers to putt by depicting, in often intricate and beautiful detail, the contours of the green they are about to play. The sight of both amateurs and pros flipping through these popular pocket-sized volumes before approaching a shot has become more common in recent years—but their rise has not been without controversy.

Speaking to Sky Sports on the issue, US Open and Open Championship winner and former world number one Rory McIlroy says he believes they have made “everyone lazier” on tour:

…for the greater good of the game, I’d like to see them be outlawed and for them not to be used anymore. It’s just taking away a skill that takes time and practice to be mastered. 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.

Back in 2018 some golfing bodies announced restrictions on the size and scale of the books and the US Masters, held each year in Augusta, GA, banned their use altogether.

Now it looks likely they will be outlawed for the whole of next season’s PGA Tour, with Golfweek reporting that “The Tour’s Player Advisory Council voted to outlaw the books at a meeting two weeks ago. Support for the ban among the 16 players who comprise the Council was described by one person who was present as ‘overwhelming.'”

So do these little green books provide an unfair advantage, or are they a reassuringly old-school solution in a technological world? Perhaps this is one of the only times when spending too long reading might be frowned upon…



Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.