Golf Yardage Books: 7 Important Facts You Must Know!

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There are lots of aids that you can add to your golf bag to try and help you hit a good score, and yardage books are popular at all levels of the game.

But there has been a fair amount written and said about yardage books at the top of the game in recent times, which has raised many questions in regard to their use.

So, in this article, we explain everything you need to know about yardage books in golf and illustrate why they’re still an integral aid for golfers of all abilities.

What Are Golf Yardage Books Used For?

Golfers use yardage books to work out their distances on the course. Some golf courses provide yardage books as standard, which you can buy from the clubhouse before teeing off.

They consist of useful information relating to the distance from tee to green, as well as the various hazards that are present on the course. This is helpful because it enables you to decide which clubs to use at certain points throughout your round.

Professional golfers typically have personalized yardage books that their caddies have helped them compile. The caddy will often go out and play the course before an upcoming tournament and make detailed notes in the professional’s yardage book.

Then, as they’re competing in the tournament, the pro will have a detailed guide that illustrates different scenarios out on the course. Ultimately, a yardage book helps with club selection and course management and is an ideal aid for all golfers.

Do All Golf Courses Have Yardage Books?

Not all golf courses have yardage books, but many do. They’re usually stored in the pro shop, and you can buy them when you pick up a scorecard. If a course offers a yardage book, it makes sense to buy one, particularly if you’re playing a competition.

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However, most golf courses also have distance markers out on the course itself. These show you how far away you are from the green and are typically shown as 200, 150, and 100 yards. If you don’t have a yardage book, you can use these markers to guide you.

If you’re playing a golf course that doesn’t offer yardage books, you can make one yourself. Granted, this involves playing the course at least once before the date of the competition, and you will probably need a rangefinder to help you.

But if you make the necessary calculations and create a yardage book that you can use on the golf course, it will significantly help your course management and is likely to result in lower scores.

Are Yardage Books Legal?

Yes, yardage books are completely legal, meaning you can use them when you’re playing golf in competitions. So, unless there are local rules stating otherwise, you can use your club’s yardage book when you’re participating in the monthly medal, for instance.

There has been a fair amount of noise in the professional game about whether yardage books should be made illegal, but the PGA Tour hasn’t yet taken any steps to ban them. After all, it’s an even playing field, as all professionals are permitted to use them.

As mentioned at the start of this article, most caddies go out and play the course before the week of the tournament, which gives them a great read on the various hazards and distances out on the course.

While most of us don’t have the luxury of sending our caddy out to get a read of the course before a round, it’s undoubtedly one of the reasons behind the success of many Tour pros who are able to utilize this method.

How Big Can a Yardage Book Be?

The USGA and R&A have stipulated that green-reading materials and yardage books must be no bigger than 4.25 x 7.0. While this might sound unusual, it’s part of the tightening of the rules related to the taking of notes out on the golf course.

This is a topic that has long been the source of contention in the professional game, with many players of the belief that taking detailed reads of the course can provide certain players with an unfair advantage.

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However, all players must execute the notes that they carry around with them! If golf was merely a case of studying a course and easily enacting the detailed strategy laid out in front of you, it wouldn’t be particularly difficult.

So, although your notes have to be contained within a yardage book of a specific size, you can still carry a book around with you and do your best to execute your chosen strategy when you’re out on the course.

Where do pro golfers get their yardage books?

Many professional golfers put together their own yardage books. However, many buy them from PGA professionals who have created a template that includes the various contours and hazards on a course, which they can then personalize.

For instance, a PGA professional named Mark Long works on the PGA Tour and sells his detailed yardage books to players in the lead-up to certain tournaments. Most players will then send their caddies out to make notes and markings on the yardage book ahead of the round.

During the practice round, they will then consider how accurate their notes are and add anything else to the yardage book before teeing off for real the following day.

In other words, an awful lot of planning goes into a professional’s yardage book, and they don’t just pick one up in the pro shop for five bucks before teeing off like the rest of us do!

What Do Pros Write in Their Yardage Books?

Pros can write anything in their yardage books that they think will help them navigate the course in question. The most important consideration for pros is the distance between tee and green, as well as how and when hazards are likely to come into play.

You will also find that pros take things like contours into play and will make a note of target areas where they hope to land the ball. Specifically, this helps them plan their course strategy and ensures they don’t leave anything to chance when they tee it up.

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Some pros might also make a note of previous club selections in their yardage books, so they can consider how the course has played in the past. This can be helpful when the wind is up, or the weather changes during the round.

Finally, pros will make detailed annotations of the greens, which is one of the most important aspects of any yardage book. A professional’s read of the greens will make or break their tournament, so it’s important to get it right.

Is the PGA Doing Away with Yardage Books?

At the start of 2022, the PGA Tour announced that there would be new restrictions in relation to yardage books at professional tournaments. The key change is that players and caddies are no longer allowed to use the aid of levels or slope-reading technology to make their notes.

They are now only permitted to make handwritten notes in their yardage books based on what they’ve seen with their own eyes. This is a fairly radical switch, but it doesn’t mean that yardage books will be outlawed.

In fact, given the reliance that pros have on their yardage books, it’s unlikely that any rules outlawing them would be passed any time soon. But the PGA Tour has not been afraid of shaking things up in recent times as far as the rules are concerned, so it will be interesting to see how things develop!

Conclusion

A yardage book is a course essential for many golfers. It helps you with course management and club selection and takes much of the guesswork out of the game.

However, as explained, there are certain restrictions in place in regards to how yardage books can be used in competitions, so you will need to bear this in mind if you plan on using one in an upcoming tournament.

But when used correctly, a yardage book can make life so much easier for you on the golf course and will almost certainly help you bring down your score.