USGA: Measure distance only; PGA: Don't measure at all
Last year, the USGA and R&A both altered the rules f golf a bit to allow for laser devices to be used to measure distances during competition. The rule change allowed local committees to decide whether or not the devices could be used.
Interestingly, the PGA of America has announced that it will NOT allow use of such devices in any competition “for all PGA of America National Championships, as well as any Section event where players advance to compete in such Championships,” according to a press release.
The USGA has also come out with a clarification as to what sorts of measuring devices can and cannot be used. On March 1, Ussgah (as I like to call them) stated, “Golfers must continue to post all scores for handicap purposes made with the aid of a device that measures only distance, but not devices that measure additional conditions such as wind or elevation (slope).”
Even some (but not all) companies that produce laser distance measurers are pleased about the ruling.
Rob Loughlin, president of Laser Link Golf, said the following after the USGA’s announcement: “Our company has always focused on measuring distance to the flagstick only, and it was our belief that this was going to be the way the USGA would decide. They are doing what’s best for the game. They have drawn a line in the sand, much the same way they did with ERC. Allowing devices that measure all kinds of variables seems to only complicate a game that is already complicated enough. We want to simplify distance measurement, which in turn will help to speed up the game.”
I agree. I know I don’t usually play for money, and God knows it doesn’t even look like I’m playing for low score half the time, but it seems to me that half the fun of playing the game is accounting for and dealing with the unknown or partially known factors affecting the outcome of any given swing.
Fine. Distance measuring devices probably speed up the game and help us average golfers enjoy ourselves more. But I don’t want Batman’s utility belt replacing my own eye, a few blades of grass fluttering in the breeze, a skilled caddie’s intimate knowledge of the course, or – best of all – the thrill of a lucky guess.
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At the start of a tournament all golfers hit 18 tee shots on a golf simulator programed for the course they are playing and receive a printout showing where their ball landed, distance to hole, etc.
Players proceed to their ball location and finish the tournament.
Need a longer course? Reprogram the software.