Yardage is the distance between a player’s ball and the target he’s aiming for. So, it’s an important measurement in Golf. By knowing yardage, players can have a basic idea about how strongly he needs to hit the ball.
Normal players can just use cheap golf rangefinders and they work well. However, under USGA rules golfers in professional tournaments are not permitted to use any artificial instruments to measure their yardage.
So, a question is likely to come to our mind. How do pro golfers know yardage?
Pro Golfers Measuring Tools
Although yardage is an important aspect of Golf, as pro tournaments don’t allow electronic devices for measurements, golfers need to rely on books! Yes, you read it right! Pro golfers use books called yardage books.
Pro golfers use these yardage books and map out the ball position from the book. There are many yardage books available for different golf courses. But, good yardage books need to offer an intimate knowledge of the course.
So, different courses need different yardage books. That’s why pro golfers keep updated to the best yardage books and this too is very valuable knowledge in Golf. Keeping updated is one of the sole essences of the game!
What Yardage Book Do Pros Use?
Although there are many different yardage books available on the market, most pros use Mark Long’s Yardage books. Mark Long is a former caddie with 25 years of experience and now he spends his days mapping out the tours golf courses.
Mark Long’s yardage books are loved by caddies and players all over the USA and his contributions to the game are well acknowledged. As his books are incredibly precise and accurate, they work flawlessly for measuring yardage for pro golfers.
How are Yardage Books Made?
Yardage books require intensive use of modern technology. A lot of work goes behind putting together a book like Mark Long’s Yardage book. The course needs to be mapped using aerial photography, rangefinders, drones, surveying instruments, etc.
Then, all the measurements and information are put into a computer where specific software calculates and produces the books.
What Information do Yardage Books Provide?
Yardage books provide essential information for pro golfers. Pro golfers know exactly how far they can hit any of their clubs and it is very important to know which club to choose for the occasion. That’s exactly why pro golfers use yardage books.
So, pro golfers and caddies need many small details that the books provide. Elevation changes on a hole, the size of the green, the rough’s width, distances to sand traps, and every other detail that a player may or may not need.
Although the book is roughly the size of a phone, it offers so much valuable information that players won’t be able to play pro golf without them!
In Mark Long’s books, there is a page for each hole and there is a large black dot at the front of the green. All measurements are taken from there. The green will show the contours and depth of the green.
A yardage book can be as simple or as detailed as you want, but most yardage books have some common information.
- Overhead/ bird’s eye view of the current hole
- Outlines of tee boxes, roughs, hazards, fairways, bunkers, and green complexes
- Landmarks of the course, such as trees, rocks, yardage markers, etc.
History of the Yardage Books
In 1954 Deane Berman (later PGA Tour Commissioner in 1974) began to map out and measure important yardages methodologically on the courses he was playing. However, his work was unsophisticated compared to today’s modern books or GPS.
But his methods helped Jack Nicklaus AKA, the “Golden Bear” win the 1961 U.S amateurs. This popularized his methods and gradually caught the attention of pro golfers and caddies. The term “Yardage Books” was popularized first in the 70s.
Since then caddies and pro golfers have been using Yardage books for every shot! George Lucas and Mark Long, both pioneers in mapping golf courses, began to enhance the yardage books that were sold to the caddies then.
Thus, came the modern yardage books.
New USGA and R&A Rules
Modern measuring devices like rangefinders were forbidden to use in pro golf up until recently.
But, the new USGA and R&A rules state that the tournaments will allow the use of Distance Measuring Devices unless a local rule has been adopted prohibiting their use. So, now tournaments will allow DMDs like laser rangefinders.
Although that doesn’t make the yardage books obsolete. Because, though modern devices are very good at measuring distances immediately, they don’t provide a detailed outline and bird’s eye view of each hole of the courses.
So, DMDs will likely be used alongside yardage books and that is a very good future of golf that we are approaching in my opinion!
Pro golfers take yardage very seriously and the stakes are very high in pro tournaments. Even an inch of precision counts! That’s why good yardage books offer precision up to an inch!
Although now even pro golfers are allowed to use modern technologies for measuring their yardages, most players will probably use that alongside their favorite yardage books and learn about the course top to bottom!
That’s how pro golfers know yardage.