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Ken Brown shares how yardage books have evolved from 1980s to today 

Ken Brown shares how yardage books have evolved from 1980s to today 

Golf has made many advancements as it has modernised over recent decades. From the evolution of equipment to digital innovations, both on and off the course, former professional-turned broadcaster Ken Brown knows better than most some of the ways the game has transformed. 

Brown is this week in Kenya for the first time since he won the Benson & Hedges Kenya Open in 1983, forming part of the commentary team for the Magical Kenya Open on the DP World Tour.

And for those who love their nostalgia, you are in luck. Known and loved for his informative pieces to camera, Brown has provided yet more fascinating insight with the aid of his yardage book from his victory at Muthaiga Golf Club more than 40 years ago.

Unlike now, when players and caddies have all the key on-course figures they could hope for in the palm of their hands, the five-time Ryder Cup winning player describes the process of working out yardages as more “hand to mouth”.

Sharing with fans at home the hand-written notes from his 40-year-old booklet – small in comparison with the thick modern ones of today – Brown explains how he would pace out approach shots from certain spots on the fairway to judge club selection.

Such has been the progress since then, Brown jokes that those we are now accustomed to seeing, contain “what you had for breakfast”.

“It’s got how far every single yardage is from all the different spots, it’s fantastic,” adds Brown, a four-time winner on the DP World Tour, formerly known as the European Tour.

“This is a massive, massive improvement. It saves you a lot of work because we used to have to try and do this whilst we were having a practice round.”

While players and caddies still do their on-course reconnaissance in advance of tournaments, the need for the level of detail required to get to grips with a layout is far less great.

As Brown puts it, mistakes were easy to make while counting as you walked, resulting in players coming together to share their own feedback with one another.

Such historical context is a world away from the in-depth tools that are now available to the world’s best in their quest for success.

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