Should You Use Yardage Books and Pin Sheets?

If you’ve ever visited a golf pro shop, you must’ve seen the yardage books on the counter. You may also have seen PGA professionals using the yardage books during their rounds. Have you ever wondered why these books are mostly used by the professionals?

The same goes for pin sheets. In fact, you won’t find pin sheets on every course. They’re mostly found in high-end golf courses and reserved for tournaments or competitive events.

In this guide, we’re going to learn exactly what they are and what purpose they serve. After we’re done, it’ll be easier for you to determine why yardage books and pin sheets are not for professionals only. They can help you improve your game a lot.

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What is a Yardage Book?

You can think of the yardage books as your guide for the course. Most golf courses have their own customized yardage book that represents that particular course properly. Among other things, a yardage book contains information such as the number of holes and their layouts, the distance of each hole, the distance of the hazards from the tee or the fairway bunkers, the distance of the roughs, and a concise representation of the greens.

If you’re playing at a particularly high-end course, you might find additional information such as the slope angle of the fairway, the direction of the holes based on the wind path, slope angles of the green, and in-depth information regarding the green.

The more informative a yardage book is, the better it is for the player. You can digest the information to get yourself acquainted with the course and plan your rounds accordingly.

How to Use a Yardage Book?

The success factor lies in using the yardage books correctly. Even if you hand out yardage books for free to every player on the course, only a handful of them will be able to improve their gameplay. If you inquire further, you’ll notice that the better players knew how to use the component.

So, how do you use a yardage book?

First of all, you should carry the book with you through the round. You need to locate the hole you’re on from the book. Once you successfully determine where you are, you can use the information such as the distances of the hazards, roughs, and bunkers to select the right club.

For example, if you’re playing a 400 yard hole with a driver capable of hitting 270 to 300 yards, you need to look for where the fairway bunkers are. If you notice the bunkers are in the 270 to 300 yard range from the tee box, you may consider a long iron or a fairway wood to avoid those bunkers.

If you have access to more information, you can dial in the settings for your approach shot even more finely. You can take the green slopes, wind, and tree clusters into consideration when you plan the shot.

How Many Types of Yardage Books are Out there?

Based on the depth of the information, yardage books are spread into three main categories. These categories are known as levels. So, you have Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 yardage books.

  • Level 1 Yardage Book: A Level 1 book is the most basic one. You can get these in between $10 and $20 at pro shops. In this book, you’ll find an overview of all the holes in the course. It’s a great pick for beginners because there is not a plethora of information to create confusion. The drawback is that you don’t get any information regarding green reading.
  • Level 2 Yardage Book: As you can imagine, it’s an upgrade from Level 1. So, it costs more. In pro shops, Level 2 yardage books cost between $20 and $40. Level 2 books are usually the go-to for low handicap players because it contains information such as fairway slopes, green slopes, and in-depth distances.
  • Level 3 Yardage Book: This is mostly used by advanced players and PGA Tour pros. It’s the most in-depth variant of yardage books. If you’re just starting out, it’s not a good idea to go for Level 3 right away. These guides focus largely on green readings of the course to help players improve their short game.

Don’t Forget a Cover

If you do decide to use a yardage book, whatever level it may be, you should also invest in a yardage book cover. There are various designs and materials available on the internet including PU leather, plastic, and real leather.

A cover will help you protect the guide better from moisture, sweat, dust, or any other element that might damage paper.

It’s the Digital Era

If you’re not comfortable with carrying a paper yardage book with you, you may check out the digital ones. There are multiple premium apps that include in-depth information regarding the golf courses in an area.

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What are Pin Sheets?

As we’ve already said, pin sheets are usually reserved for competitive events and you can only find them at high-end golf courses. But that doesn’t stop you from understanding what they are and how to use them in case you come across them.

Basically, a pin sheet is a piece of paper that marks all 18 holes on a course with pins. Under each pin, you’ll find detailed information. If the pin is marking a rough, you can get information such as the condition of the grass, how tall is it, etc.

If you find pin sheets at a golf course, you can safely assume that it’s an amazing course and you’re looking forward to a great session of golf.

Why Do People Use Pin Sheets?

You might be thinking what’s the point of a pin sheet if you already have a yardage book. While yardage books are a generalized overview of the course, pin sheets go in-depth on particular lies to help you determine the approach shot. You can choose your targets more easily as well as make informed decisions to lower your handicap.

How to Read a Pin Sheet?

If you have no prior idea about how to read a green sheet, you might be in for a surprise. It may very well look like a foreign language to you.

In general, a pin sheet has 18 circles to showcase all 18 holes for a round. Most pin sheets are designed in a way so that you can fold them into three columns containing 6 holes each and put them inside your yardage book. It’s very nice to make life easier.

Here are the metrics you’ll find on a pin sheet and how you can read them.

  • Green Size: One of the most common information found on pin sheets is the green size. A green might be marked as a circle on the pin sheet so don’t get confused. Most greens aren’t a perfect circle. The pin sheet will tell you the depth of the green. For example, a pin sheet might say that a green is 40 yards deep.
  • Pin Numbers: All of the pins on a pin sheet are marked with numbers. The numbers correspond with the yardage of the holes. For example, if the hole you’re on says that it’s 25 to center and 8 from the left, it means that the pin is located 25 yards away from the center of the green and 8 yards away from the right edge. One thing to note here is that you only need to calculate the pins in yards and not in feet.
  • Plus/Minus Yardage: This metric is not found across all pin sheets. If you find the plus/minus yardage on your pin sheet, it usually means how long or short of the center the pin is. For example, if a green is 40 yards deep and your pin is 23 yards on, the pin sheet might say it as a +3. Because when you divide the yardage of the green by 2, you get 20. The pin is 3 yards plus. Hence, +3.

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Should You Use Yardage Books and Pin Sheets?

Both yardage books and pin sheets are elements for game improvement. They’re neither mandatory nor they will improve your playing skills. However, you’ll be able to gauge the situations at the courses better when you know how to translate the information found on yardage books and pin sheets.

Final Words

Golf is such a sport where the dedication of the players matters the most. It applies to how you play, what equipment you use, and how you perceive the sport. Passionate players tend to use high-end equipment and get as many advantages as they can. Average players, on the other hand, play with the bare minimum equipment just to get by.

If you consider yourself a golf enthusiast, you should definitely give yardage books and pin sheets a try. If you don’t find a yardage book at your local course, you may try golf apps and see whether your course is listed or not.

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Thanks for reading today’s article!

Nick Foy – Golf Instructor

nick foy golf academy
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