By: Richard Todd
After years of relying on my golfing companions to provide exact measurements to the green and hazards, using their GPS and laser range finders, I finally purchased my own technology. The quick reading of pin-point digital yardage speeds up my round, increases my confidence in club selection, and helps shots be more accurate.
But is this technology allowed in tournament, league, friendly or competitive rounds?
Currently, USGA appendix IV-5 and rules 14-3 prohibits using DMDs, Distant Measuring Devices, during play unless a local rule by that course’s committee has been set. That means the answer varies from course to course and you may need to use your own wits (or a caddy) to figure out how far the carry is over that water hazard.
The penalty for breach of this rules is 2 strokes (or loss of hole in match play) for first infraction and disqualification for subsequent offenses.
The future looks bright as the USGA and R&A plan on changing this item on January 1st, 2019, when the rule reverses and allows DMDs in regular play, unless strictly forbidden on a course-by-course exception by their committee.
There are some exceptions to using distance measuring devices. Even though the technology available in these pieces of equipment can do many marvelous things, it is against the rules (current and proposed) to measure elevation, wind speed, wind direction, or other wind speed related data, or interpret any distance or directional information. Breach of this rule will penalize the golfer two strokes in stroke play, and loss of hole in match play.
You are allowed to measure temperature and humidity, just in case you weren’t sure.
Why the change of heart (and rule)? The United States Golf Association determined that distance to the hole, or other location, is public information a player may get from many sources (other golfers, sprinkler heads, markers, posts, etc.), distance measurement is not a core part of the game, and use of similar devices has become common place. A change in the rule eliminates much confusion and provides uniformity.
Do you have a smart phone or other device that can measure both items allowed and prohibited?
Remember, it’s the honor system for the game of golf. So even though you can access these disallowed facts, don’t use the features on your device for doing so. Play the game fairly and enjoy your round.
For more educational and entertaining tips on golf rules and etiquette visit TheGolfRules.com.