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WATCH: Gary Player hilariously criticizes players using green-reading books

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Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player held a dual press conference at The Masters and addressed a number of issues. It’s all a must-watch, and you can watch the full video here, but skip to 23:54 for the real entertainment. Asked about 9-hole golf courses and how golf takes too long, Player took that moment to rip on pro golfers for using green-reading books. It’s a bit get-off-my-lawn-esque, but it’s hilarious and he makes some great points.

“I’m flabbergasted,” Player said. “I’m not gonna criticize it, but I find it hard to understand when you have in a tournament, I see these guys bringing out a book when they get on the green to look where to putt. Really I find this very hard to understand. I and Jack have played many golf courses and exhibitions that we never played the golf course before we broke the course record. I go to a golf course, you can put me on any golf course in the world, I can read the putt as well as if I played it ten times. I’m a professional golfer, this is something I’ve got to be able to do.”

A fair point from a 9-time major champion.

“When I go to a golf tournament and you see guys having three practice rounds, then they play two rounds, that’s five rounds on a golf course,” Player continued. “Now they’re playing in the tournament and they look at the book where to putt. But I’m not gonna criticize it.”

No. No he’s not going to criticize it at all. Hah!

Jack, how do you feel about green-reading books?

“I think you’re absolutely dead right,” Nicklaus agreed. “I think it’s absolutely absurd. You’ve gotta swing coach, a mental coach, a chef, a pilot. You got everything. And now you’ve gotta book to tell you how to do it. And it’s also done by somebody who can’t break 90.”

Jack, the 18-time major champion, also used this opportunity to get a bit sentimental about the game.

“To me the game of golf is learning how to play the game and be responsible for everything you do. That’s the fun of it. It’s fun to learn how to putt greens, it’s fun to learn how to play clubs.”

Ultimately, however, Jack admitted he’d probably do the same thing.

“That said, if it were all given to me back when I started in 1962 on the tour, I probably would have done exactly the same thing.”

What do you think about green-reading books?

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Andrew Tursky is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX. He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Mat

    Apr 8, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    You can’t have a compass on the course, but you can have a green reading book? Ya, they’re handy. It’s good to have. But as a consideration for speed of play, they’re hideous. I would much rather give caddies nothing but a laser, and prohibit the use of lasers when the ball is on the green. I’m all for the science-data stuff, but part of having a game is to make pros be pros. Yardage books are fine on Wednesday.

  2. Rich Douglas

    Apr 7, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    Shall we ban yardage books? Distance markers? Laser rangefinders?

    Is judging break and judging distance all that different?

    I’m in favor of them, as long as they don’t slow play. But….they will. The same chops who used to plumb-bob putts–and have no idea what to do with what they MIGHT have been seeing–will stare at a line indicated by the book and not be able to translate that into results, either because they can’t use the information or they have lousy putting skills.

    But the real culprit here is slow play, and this will feed it. How many times in a round do you see people who’s turn it is not be ready? They find out they’re away–usually by being told–and THEN they go into their pre-shot routines. And what routines they are! Two or three practice swings–none of which will resemble the actual hack at the ball–coupled with checking the wind, interminable waggling, and a slice into the woods. (That they won’t watch, so finding their ball will be a chore.) Now we’re giving these guys something to read on the greens? Oh, the humanity!

  3. Bob Parson Jr.

    Apr 7, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    This is even more egregious when I see 20 handicappers using yardage books for everything, bah!

  4. Tom Duckworth

    Apr 7, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    I can see using the books for practice rounds but taking them away for the tournament.
    I have never used one but if I was playing in a club championship and I didn’t have one and others players did that would be unfair. So everyone should be given a book or nobody should have them reading greens is part of the skill in golf it separates OK players from very good players. It has nothing to do with longing for the old days it is part of the game a skill you work on and get better at just like driving or learning how to hit a fade or draw.

  5. Bob Parson Jr.

    Apr 7, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Rightly so! I’m tired of 7 hour rounds for professionals.

  6. Justin

    Apr 7, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    They should be for practice rounds ONLY, just as electronic distance devices. And when it comes to amateurs I can tell you I walked off the course DQ my self just last week because playing in a men’s club weekly 18 two of the guys in my group had a new greens book and were taking all day to putt and after 10 holes of that I gave up. I do not know about the rest of you but when it comes to men’s clubs and the importance of putting to a 25 handicapper and the 5 handicapper that thinks he should be on tour 5+ hour rounds are the pitts….

  7. acew/7iron

    Apr 7, 2018 at 8:22 am

    Could not agree more with Player & Jack

    How the open use of cheat books ever got by the rules of golf police I will never know except to say holing putts creates TV drama while missing them puts viewers in surf mode. My only guess is that to help the player make that 4,6,8,10,? footer they allow the use of a road map to the hole.

    I see so many avg Joes miss short putts due to a miss-read and I think…If only the would have had the contour map like Dustin & Jordan they could have at least missed on the high side.

  8. CrashTestDummy

    Apr 6, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    I agree with them. There shouldn’t be green reading books. It should be up to the player to read the greens during play and/or do the homework on the practice rounds to make notations on how the green breaks. Green reading is a skill that should be necessary in competition.

  9. Tyler Durden

    Apr 6, 2018 at 9:04 pm

    Im sure gary would like to go back to flying on 1950’s commercial airliners or have to take an ocean liner to cross the atlantic.

    • ogo

      Apr 6, 2018 at 10:47 pm

      He’s just being open and transparent.. like Trump …. :-O

  10. A. Commoner

    Apr 6, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    Simply stated: the use of green reading books stinks.

  11. G. Mangum

    Apr 6, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    Here’s my considered opinion on green-reading books:
    http://puttingzone.blogspot.ca/2010/04/rule-on-artificial-devices.html

    • ogo

      Apr 6, 2018 at 10:46 pm

      That sez it all. Geff knows what he is talking about. However the tour pros want to look good because they are mainly shilling equipment and golf junk to the gullible masses. And that’s why the fairways are shaved and not watered in the landing areas.. so the ball rolls 50+ yards further.

  12. rymail00

    Apr 6, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    Am I the only one shocked to see Jack playing the new and current TM ball during the Par 3 Contest, and not a Titleist Professional 90 or Balata? Being so against how far the ball goes today I figured he would lead the way in the “Ball Rollback” by taking the lead by showing golf is still fun for even older guys who don’t hit anywhere like they used too….seems almost hypocritical to play possibly one of the longest balls out today even on a par 3 course.

    But what I do know…?

  13. Simms

    Apr 6, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    And Gary how about the laugh about $500 plus drivers being fit so amateurs can play better when Pros cannot hit a fairway with custom versions of the same driver…

    • ogo

      Apr 6, 2018 at 10:48 pm

      The ams just want to feeel what the pros feeeel… and they love owning colorful toys..

  14. Patricknorm

    Apr 6, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    The other day I watched the 1975 final round of the Masters on YouTube. Jack Nicklaus ended up winning ahead of Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf. What stood out more than anything , and I remembered this quite clearly, was how long and deliberate Nicklaus was over every shot. But his freezing over every putt was epic. I realize that Nicklaus too many is the greatest golfer, but if he played today people would be critical of his putting routine. Ironically giving Nicklaus a green reading book may have sped his putting routine. Who knows though.

  15. wyomick

    Apr 6, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    They’re right. And amateurs mimick the pros. It’s taking all the feel out of the game. Learn to feel with your feet, use your putter for a plumb bob to get the general lay of the land if you must, pick a spot in front of your ball, and HIT THE DAMN BALL TOWARD THE HOLE.

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