Sep 24, 2022
POSTED BY: Nicholas Venditti

How Do Golf Pros Know Yardage?

If you have ever glanced at a yardage book, then you’ll know just how confusing it looks and difficult to read and understand.

To the untrained eye, yardage books are complicated with different terms and illustrations, but they are a lifeline to the pro golfer.

Because pro golfers cannot use artificial devices to measure distance in tournaments, they rely instead on yardage books. These books contain detailed pictures of each golf course hole and precise measurements.

Pro golfers often make additional notes in their yardage book to capture information about incline and elevation and other elements that can help them with their game.

Designed to be about the size of your cell phone, they fit neatly into a back pocket for easy access during the round.

If you are a keen amateur thinking of tournament entry, it’s worth taking the time to familiarize yourself with how pro golfers know yardage. Learning how to read a yardage book will be essential for your game and will elevate your regular play.

How Do Pro Golfers Determine Yardage?

On a new or unfamiliar course, the yardage is a critical element for a golfer strategizing how they will play. To determine yardage, pro golfers use a tour caddie yardage book. 

Tournaments generally take place from Thursday to Sunday, and caddies usually arrive on the course on the previous Monday or Tuesday. A caddie is given a copy of the yardage book and walks the course using the book as a reference. They might also use a rangefinder to make measurements and calculations.

Pro golfers can use these books to learn essential information about the course and aid their pro game and style of play. This fine-tuning can make the difference between achieving success and going over par.

What Information Do Yardage Books Provide?

Yardage books give detailed information to help the pro during play. They are usually pocket-sized for convenience, with detailed illustrations and aerial views of each hole on the course.

The books set out distances from landmarks and hazards to the hole, which is critical information for a pro golfer. They also provide measurements from many different reference points on a particular hole to the center of the green.

Each hole has two pages, one for the approach and the second for when the player is on the course. The second page gives the pin position, grass grain, slopes, and plateaus.

There will be a large black dot at the front of the green, with all measurements taken from that point. It will also include an illustration of the depth of the green, along with any contours, using smaller numbers to show where they begin and end.

There will also be markings for strategic reference points on the fairway, such as trees, sprinkler heads, and sand traps.

The final information in yardage books is the golfer’s notes. Adding their personal notes can prove to be the most invaluable partner for a pro golfer during a tournament round.

Fun Fact: Although they are called yardage books, the distances are typically in meters.

What Yardage Book Do Pro Golfers Use?

All professional golfers use Mark Long’s Yardage Book. Mark Long was a caddie for 25 years and has used his experience to map out numerous courses for professional golfers.

As a long-time caddie, Mark knows what a golfer is looking for, the best approach to the green, and where to aim his tee shot to set it up.

A yardage book provides everything a pro golfer would find helpful, including courses mapped using sophisticated technology. Some modern tech devices handy for yardage books include rangefinders, aerial photography, drones, and on-the-ground surveying instruments.

All the information goes into a bespoke software program that produces the maps for each hole on the course.

Mark Long’s yardage books are incredibly detailed and include things like the distance from the sprinklers to the edge of the fairway, the elevation changes on a particular hole, and the size of the green.

Mark revisits each PGA tour course every year and will revise the yardage book for that course to reflect even the most minor changes.

Do Pro Golfers Use Rangefinders?

USGA rules prohibit mechanical or digital rangefinders. Unlike amateurs, pro golfers in tournaments cannot use any artificial instrument to measure yardage. Rangefinders fall into the category of artificial instruments.

Some pros use them during practice if they are unfamiliar with the course. However, once play starts, they can’t rely on these devices.

In addition to rangefinders, GPS apps work from your cell, but these are also not allowed in tournaments.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Caddies Know Yardage?

Caddies acquire yardage knowledge through detailed yardage books, which contain hole illustrations, distances to landmarks and hazards, green details, and golfer's notes. Caddies study these books, walking the course to gain precise measurements, elevations, and other factors, enhancing pro golfers' strategies.

Final Thoughts

Pro players know precisely how far they can play each club, so even a difference of a couple of yards when it comes to distance accuracy can change the choice of which one they use.

Learning to read a yardage book can help your own game as a keen amateur, even if you don’t aspire to play in tournaments. If competition is your aim, getting to grips with this essential golf course companion for that winning edge is crucial.

Are you ready to head to the course? Make sure you arrive equipped with a golf bag with plenty of room to store your yardage book—shop STITCH Golf today for stylish, spacious, and lightweight golf bags in all sizes and styles.