Laser yardage measurement devices help players, hurt course architects
Several months ago, I noted that the USGA and R&A had revised the rules to allow laser yardage measurement devices during official rounds, and even tournaments, when approved by the local rules committee.
In that blog, I ruminated a bit about whether this was good for the game or not. Most readers who commented thought it was just fine, and I tend to agree. My only reservation at the time was that players who have not learned how to use the devices efficiently might actually take LONGER to play than if they did not have the devices.
It seems my concerns were, on the whole, unjustified, however. According to Arnold Palmer, devices like Laser Link (which I will be testing and reviewing myself later this year) have sped up play, even at Pebble Beach.
“These devices help get you around, there’s no question about it,” said Palmer recently. “Pebble Beach is the worst in the world [in terms of pace of pace of play] and we’re playing 4 1/2-hour rounds there, and that’s remarkable. I can’t reject the fact that golf has become modern.”
As for the use of these devices by touring pros, Palmer said, “It’s a foregone conclusion the pros are going to have the yardages, one way or another. Either the caddie is going to get it, or they’re going to get it personally. So what’s the difference?…I think it’s a foregone conclusion that it’s going to be used [on the PGA Tour]. There’s no way around it.”
OK. Fair enough. I can’t argue with the King.
I will take a moment to lament, however, the death knell of the visual illusion in golf course design. How many times have you been on a hole and said, “Wow, it doesn’t look that long” or “It looks a lot longer than it says on the card”? Design features such as uphill and downhill slopes, occluded swales and valleys, water hazards, elevated greens, bunkers located away from the edges of the green, and majestic backdrops all serve to fool the eye and challenge club selection.
Laser devices essentially eliminate these important arrows from the course architect’s quiver. With longer balls and more powerful clubs nullifying distance as a course defense, one remaining protection—illusion—is now annulled by laser distance finders.
What’s left? Totally blind approaches? We all know how much fun those are.
Nevertheless, if the technology makes the game more enjoyable—and less pokey—for the masses, it is not only hear to stay, but welcome (by most, at least).
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As for the speed of play, I don't think a bunch of baby boomers trying to figure out which end of their rangefinder to look thru will do it, but the glance and go GPS (i.e.. Skycaddie) is certainly a way to get the job done.
In my opinion anything is worth the price of heading off the fairway rage that will soon become a part of our golfing lives if the speed of play continues to get worse. Hand me that sniper rifle would ya, the loop in this guy's swing is really pissing me off...