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  • Alistair Tait

No library trips please

Can you imagine how many friends you’d have left to play golf with if you had to make a trip to the library before every putt? Not many.

Oh, and you’d need to develop a fairly thick skin to weather the slings and arrows of not so outrageous criticism that flew your way too. You’d probably hear more than a mild “Get on with it” during a round of golf. You might find a few good old Anglo-Saxon expletives flying your way.

How many of us have thrown a few of those at the TV recently while watching tour pros imitating undergraduate students preparing for an exam, when all they're doing is trying to get a wee white ball to fall into a wee dark hole?

Collin Morikawa couldn’t hit his 54-foot eagle putt on the Concession’s 13th hole yesterday without making three trips to the library to consult his green-reading book. Maybe the book was incorrect because Morikawa ran the putt nine feet past the hole, and then missed the birdie putt coming back. Guess those books don’t hold all the answers.

True, the reigning PGA champion might have done exactly the same if green-reading books were banned on the PGA Tour, but hopefully he might have been quicker about it.

The R&A and USGA obviously didn’t factor in green-reading books when they came up with the 40 second recommendation to play a shot. Rule 5.6b to be precise. Quite how any player can play a stroke, even a 54-foot eagle putt, in 40 seconds when they consult a green-reading book is beyond me.

Morikawa obviously isn’t the only one who can’t seem to putt without the obligatory library trip. Bryson DeChambeau’s US Open win was impressive, but watching him consult his Winged Foot green-reading book over every single putt was a test of fortitude. TV viewers could easily refill their wine glass, or fetch another beer from the fridge between DeChambeau reaching for the book and actually making the stroke.

Thankfully, not all players hold with the wisdom of relying on the detailed work of would be ordnance survey teams to hole putts. Dustin Johnson suggested last week that it’s far easier nowadays to learn the subtleties of a golf course than previously because of the green-reading books – even before players arrive at the golf course. That gels with what one European Ryder Cup player said to me a few years ago. He suggested he could probably dispense with practice rounds for major championships and still play well, given the amount of detail in modern yardage and green-reading books.

Jon Rahm didn’t mince his words on the use of green-reading books last week.

I don't think they should be allowed," Rahm said. "That's my opinion. I think being able to read a green and read a break and understand the green is a talent, it's a skill that can be developed, and by just giving you the information, they're taking away from the game.”

Rahm isn’t the first player to speak out against green-reading books. Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy are others who’ve called for them to be banned.

Use of such books is forbidden at the Masters, and DeChambeau admitted putting on Augusta National’s sloping greens is more difficult as a result:

“Absolutely, it’s a lot harder,” he said.

As it should be. Maybe it’s time a blanket ban was introduced across the board on this issue. How about a compromise: allow green-reading books in practice rounds but make the players work off intuition and feel during tournament rounds?

Jack Nicklaus won 18 majors without green-reading books. Tiger Woods has 15, and pretty sure he never had to consult one either.

Maybe players will get closer to that 40-second recommendation if they don’t have to make library trips.

#JustSaying: “Growing up in college, we didn’t have greens books, and I played well then,” Bryson DeChambeau

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