What Is a Golf Yardage Book?
If you're into golf, you've probably heard the term “yardage book” thrown around. You may think of it as a high-end tool used only by professionals, but these books can be helpful for golfers at all levels.
So, What Is a Golf Yardage Book?
Golf yardage books are essentially highly detailed handbooks of a specific golf course that players use to develop their strategies. Most courses sell their own books in the pro shop, so you can conveniently pick one up before hitting the greens. And they're not just for professionals! Players of all skill levels can improve their game by using yardage books.
A yardage book usually has comprehensive diagrams of every hole on a course. Each diagram shows the hole's layout, including all the hazards, bunkers, distances, slopes, and tiers. More importantly, players can use these diagrams as they go through the course to determine the best shots and ball placement based on their skill level.
How Do You Use a Yardage Book?
Yardage books may seem intimidating at first use, but once you understand the diagrams' symbols, they're actually pretty straightforward. To get started, simply find the tee box and hole that you're playing. Then look for information about the par and the distance from the tee box to the hole - for example, hole 1 is a par 3 and is 300 yards from the tee box. Got it!
Next, you'll want to identify hazards to avoid, such as trees, sand traps, water, and fairway bunkers. A good yardage book will show distances between the tee box and hazards, the hazards' dimensions, and the green's slopes.
The final step is to figure out where you want the ball to land; knowing this distance will help you select the proper club right off the bat. Some books even have club suggestions for each hole, although a good caddy can also make recommendations based on your playing style.
The Different Types of Yardage Books
Not all yardage books are created equal; they can generally be broken down into three levels that indicate the number of details and information the book provides. You can also use the book level to get an idea of the price. A good rule of thumb: the higher the personal skill level, the more expensive a book is.
Level one books are great for beginners. You'll usually see these sold in pro shops for $10-$20. These books focus primarily on giving an overview of each hole. The diagrams of each hole are kept pretty simple, so they're easy to read and not quite as intimidating as a higher-level book.
You can think of level 2 books as an intermediate level. Some pro shops sell these, but you might have better luck finding one online. Usually, they go for $20-$40. A book at this level will include information about each hole's fairway slopes, greens, and distances from the tee box. Level 2 books have more details than most beginners would find helpful and are therefore better for experienced players with a lower handicap.
Level 3 books are definitely not for beginners. Most pro shops don't even carry them unless you're at a high-end course. Your best bet is to purchase one online; they typically retail for $40-$50. These books have extremely detailed diagrams of each hole, showing all distances, dimensions, green information - even wind directions. They can be tough to read and are best for experienced golfers playing at an elite level.
How Are Yardage Books Used in Golf Today?
Yardage books have been around for quite a while. Experienced golfers often make their own notes in their books as they move through the course and reuse them every time they come back. A newer trend is also becoming more popular - golf GPS. These are essentially just digital yardage books - they give you the same information, so it comes down to player preference.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Yardage Books Legal?
In most cases, it's safe to assume yardage books are legal. The course or tournament organization usually clarifies its policy when the books' use is restricted or outright banned.
Can Pro Golfers Use Yardage Books?
The PGA TOUR released new rules regarding using yardage books in professional games. Starting January 1, 2022, professionals may only use approved books with basic information about each hole. Personal notes are allowed, but they can only contain firsthand experience and knowledge.
Do All Golf Courses Have Yardage Books
Unfortunately, not all courses have yardage books. If you don't see one in the pro shop, you might be able to find one online. Different apps and programs can help you, but here's an idea: why not buy a blank one and fill in the details yourself?