When I met up with Robert Rock on Tuesday morning at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, he was finishing up a chat with a gentleman who had handed him a stack of papers, which turned out to be the new “Green Book.” Instead of a normal-sized yardage book that we’re accustomed to seeing the pros carry and tuck in their back pockets, Rock was holding some loose A4-sized papers (the UK’s standard letter size, like our version of 8×11) with map-like diagrams of greens.
I probably gave him a weird and confused look, like WTF is going on here? Or I made a snarky remark. Or both. But before I even had the chance to ask, he started to explain. I stopped him — “WAIT!”, and quickly unlocked my iPhone (which is naturally glued to my hand during a practice round day) and started rolling the video. “OK, go ahead.” Watch above… you golf geeks are going to love these, but there’s one obvious concern that you will likely identify, as well.
Now that I’ve done some research, I’m embarrassed I only learned about The Green Book this week. Especially because of some of the incredible and immediate results that were produced by the select players that have had access to them at certain tournaments. Just wait until you hear the names and their respective finishes…
But first, to sum up what Rock explains: The Green Books show extremely accurate and detailed diagrams/maps of each green — the breaks, the contours, the numbers/percentages (that require too much math for me to really comprehend right now at 330am). From what I understand, if you have access to the Green Book for the tournament venue, you can then pretty much precisely read every putt you see the pros tackling as you watch from the the media center or even the comforts from your couch at home.
So far, the Green Book has only been available on four of Europe’s biggest professional Tours and select events on other tours around the world, along with the 2015 Solheim Cup, 2016 Olympics, 2016 Ryder Cup and the 2016 Players Championship.
Since the Green Book was introduced for the first time at the 2015 Scottish Open, it’s already evolved.
“The standard Green Book is designed to fit in the back pocket of the player,” explains (founder Paul) Homersham. “It has perhaps 100 directional arrows, but we knew that we have the capacity to provide more detail. We’re limited by the size. But for The Open we took a chance and offered players the opportunity to see what we could do.
“We created A4 sized maps with 40,000 arrows. It was an experiment, three or four players took it and their caddies carried them in their bib.”
No doubt the rapid innovations in technology in recent years have changed the way golfers analyze and track their games and statistics. It’s blatantly obvious for me because I’ve seen and watched it happen over the past seven years of covering the game, but I’m pretty sure it is for golf fans across the globe, too. Systems like Trackman and ShotLink provide the pros with incredibly detailed information to help them identify their weaknesses, strategize and prepare for tournaments and so on and so forth. And it’s impacted the way pros practice and put together game plans for each tournament (and even decide their schedule).
I remember when the stats section on the PGA Tour website only had the basics pretty much: Driving distance, driving accuracy, greens in regulations, putts per round. There were probably a few others, but not that many. Now there are almost too many that it gives me a headache when I just go to the stats section and see all these numbers and percentage symbols. (Despite ethnic/cultural stereotypes, math has never been my strong suit — I’ve always been an outlier in this regard.) Now it’s rare to get through a press conference without a player (mostly the younger ones, you know, the millenials) referencing how they’ve been working on improving from 175-200 yards (or insert whatever the yardage range is for that particular individual).
In recent years the rapid innovations in technology have changed the way golfers analyze and track their games to help them identify their weaknesses, strategize and prepare for tournaments and the list goes on. Pro golfers have access to more information than ever before and it’s changing the way they practice and put together their game plans from week-to-week.
OK, so, here’s where I share the results of the players who used the Green Books and it’s pretty crazy.
Rickie Fowler was one of the players who used the Green Book at its debut event and won the Scottish Open at Gullane. Two weeks later when it was used for a second European Tour event, Danny Willett and Matt Fitzpatrick put them in their back pockets and finished 1-2.
At the Open Championship last summer at Troon, three or four players used the new and improved A-4 map-like Green Books. Guess who two of those were? Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson. A few weeks later at golf’s return to the Olympics, Justin Rose captured the gold medal — he was the only player in the field who used the Green Book.
Alright, that’s all I got. Check out their website for more info. I’m pretty sure you’ll be hearing about these much more regularly soon.