Golf: A whole new game with rangefinders and GPS

Players will obviously have a choice whether or not to use rangefinders and other GPS technology. (AFP)
Players will obviously have a choice whether or not to use rangefinders and other GPS technology. (AFP)

Dubai - This change is a big step for the PGA of America and elite professional golf in general



By Fairway Views

Published: Tue 16 Feb 2021, 5:17 PM

Last updated: Tue 16 Feb 2021, 5:29 PM

The PGA of America last week announced that for the first time, distance-measuring devices (rangefinders and GPS) can be used during the 2021 PGA Championship (May 20-23) at Kiawah Island Resort’s Ocean Course in South Carolina, US.

This change also applies to the 2021 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.

This change is a big step for the PGA of America and elite professional golf in general.

The use of rangefinders is governed by Rule 4.3a (1) of the Rules of Golf which states that these devices can only measure distance and direction.

Devices that measure elevation and wind speeds for a player and other such data will not be allowed in tournament play.

Rangefinders could be the most popular choice for players rather than GPS devices. The former tend to be direct and, as a result, has an impressive accuracy in measuring the distance between the player (ball) and the flagstick or other fixed objects on the golf course. The GPS technology tends to provide a lot more general information on the playing of a golf hole.

Rangefinders of various sorts have been used by both players and caddies for practice rounds on the professional golf tours around the world for years, to complement the yardage books of players that are prepared each week for each tournament golf course.

Players will obviously have a choice whether or not to use rangefinders and other GPS technology during these events, but they can always just opt out and use their current traditional methods of just a yardage book.

It does not seem that long ago that caddies and the more ‘professional’ players arrived at the start of the tournament week with their own yardage wheels to measure the golf course for themselves to create their own personal yardage books with measurements of distances to bunkers, over bunkers, to dog-legs, to the front and back of greens.

It will be an interesting watch in May with players diving straight into a Major Championship with no tournament rehearsals. Player and caddie conversations will hopefully be shorter but there is always the wind, temperature, atmosphere, elevation, ground conditions, lines and so many other varying factors to consider before a subjective decision to play the shot.

Our only hope is that it does not provide too much information for the well-known slower players.

On the positive side, it is another acknowledgement by the golfing bodies that the speed of play in golf is an issue!

fairwayviewskt@gmail.com

Golf Tournaments Around the World This Week

PGA Tour

February 18–21

The Genesis Invitational

Venue: The Riviera Country Club, California, US.

Purse: $9.3 million

European Tour

No event this week.

PGA Champions Tour

No event this week.

LPGA Tour

No event this week.


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