Using a Range Finder at a Golf Major!

You heard it here first (okay that was an exaggeration!) I am probably not the first one to parrot the news that the PGA of America has authorized the use of an electronic measuring device, range finder, at the Senior, LPGA, and PGA Major golf tournament they sponsor. Their view is that the use of these devices will some how speed up play. This decision is causing a bit of a discussion in social media for the nay and yea sides. Because of the divergent from the professional golf norm, I thought it might be worth discussing.

To come out in front of today’s discussion, I am in favour of professional golfers using an electronic device that conforms to the rules and regulations of golf. I believe that it does not add any more value than the yardage books, pin placements sheets with slope, or the caddies expertise to provide advice to the player. In case you are wondering, the use of electronic devices fall under rule 4.3a.1 Allowed and Prohibited Uses of Equipment/Distance and Directional Information.

The use of range finders cannot – cannnot – provide wind direction and strength or elevation differences. This information would be a breach of the rules and does take away a skill aspect of course management for both the player and caddies. The range finder used in the upcoming majors can only be used for distance measurement only.

I wrote an article about this back in July and came out in favour of this initiative and so did you the readers:

The intent of the PGA of America is to speed up play. After reading some of the discussion points (and talking to my friends Rick (who inspired this article) and Blair) my conclusion is that no time will be saved. I understand the logic, but the synergy between the player and caddie discussing distances will not be removed by the use of a range finder. I think that it will add an extra step to the process and the same amount of time will be spent talking about what shot to make. So, saving time…..not so sure that is the case.

However, I do see the benefit for the professional golfer when deciding on distances from wayward shots. Sometimes these elite players hit the ball way off the beaten path and having a range finder will help them determine the club to play because they will have an exact distance (that is of course after a discussion with their caddie).

On other positive side affect of a range finder will be confidence. Knowing the exact distance to the flag will be a boon to the professional golfer. They understand (to the yard) how far to hit each club. By knowing the exact distance, they will be able to zero in on the pin (or be pin high) more often than not. This should make for some awesome shot making.

Using an electronic measuring device at the professional level flies in the face of tradition. However, I believe it is the next evolution in golf at the professional level. I am a strong believer that the rules of all sports should be the same from the beginner level to the GOAT level. Why would we want to handicap the best players; I just do not see how that is good for golf.

I hope I am wrong about no time being saved with the use of a range finder at PGA of America’s Majors. I guess we will wait and see if this initiative makes the difference. What do you think of the PGA of America taking the first steps to using range finders at the professional level?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!


10 thoughts on “Using a Range Finder at a Golf Major!

  1. Jim, I am not opposed to using rangefinders and agree it will not speed up play. It hasn’t sped up play at our level either. You control pace of play by limiting the size of the field. Holds true for professional tournaments or weekend play at the muni. The more groups out there, the slower it goes.




  2. You know I’m against it just like I’m against yardage and greens books. Today they ok the range finder function, tomorrow they’ll add the slope function. And before you know it, we’ll have shot preview so we can see the line/distance/speed we need to hit before we swing. Throwing away what originally were required skills does nothing for golf. Especially elite golf.


    • Kevin

      It might be a slipper slope, but I am not sure it will go that far. I know you are a traditionalist, however most players embrace the changes in technology. It is a debate that likely cannot be solved.

      Cheers Jim


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