Players’ responses to the USGA’s latest statement will surprise you

On the heels of the USGA’s Monday statement that that they are reviewing the use of green-reading materials and “expect to address this matter further in the coming months,” let’s see what the players are saying.

But first, here’s an outrageous suggestion we’ve put forth before: the USGA should have nothing to do with rulemaking on the PGA TOUR. The TOUR has its own bureaucracy and its own player councils. It’s more than capable of using the USGA’s rulebook as a point of departure, coming up with its own standards and enforcing them.

So, why doesn’t the PGA Tour cut the USGA out of the equation? Politics, of course. The USGA’s stock would plummet without the association with the top professional tour. It would be a major blow to the vaunted USGA brand. The perception that the organization is run by amateurs for amateurs is something they seek to avoid. It doesn’t have quite the same ring as “guardians of the game.”

All this by way of saying, when the overlords at the USGA sound off about something that would affect players on the PGA Tour, it’s always good to see what the pros who are actually affected think.

Interestingly, while you’d assume the uprising against the attempt to take a tool out of their hands would be substantial, it largely isn’t.

“I think probably we should ban the book,” Adam Scott said. “If they feel that reading the green needs to be more of an art and it’s an advantage to a player who’s a creative, great green reader, then I wouldn’t have a problem with that.”

Interesting. Of course, Adam Scott is a historically awful putter, so it seems he’s deriving little benefit from the books.

Another poor putter, Lucas Glover said: “I don’t know that pace is the issue with those things,” Lucas Glover said. “It’s more the powers that be see it as a possibility of losing the art of the game. It’s just like judging the wind or reading a lie, there’s got to be art to it. Science has already taken over enough.”

And illuminatingly, veteran golfer and current Golf Channel analyst, Justin Leonard, said (per Geoff Shackelford)

“I think to me, it’s a slow-play issue. It takes too much time. It takes the feel away from the game. I know we’re in a time where technology plays such a role in all sports, and it’s certainly playing a role in golf with TrackMan and everything.”

“But I think that there’s also a – there needs to be a feel and guys using instincts and using past experience, charting putts and things like that from years past. Practice rounds are important. I’m not a fan of these greens books. I think they slow down play and they take away a player’s natural ability and need to feel and see what’s going on on the golf course.”

“Assuredly, there are perspectives from the other side of the isle. But from this small, early sample of player takes it looks like the opinion is the topography and slope detail in yardage books slows the game down and takes away some of the necessary “art.”

We’ll keep an eye on what players are saying and what the USGA ultimately decides in this attempt to maintain the integrity of the game (whatever that really means).