Why The PGA Of America Is Allowed To Permit Rangefinders

Rangefinders aren't permitted on the main tours, so why can the PGA of America allow them? Here's what the Rules say...

Why The PGA Of America Is Allowed To Permit Rangefinders
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Rangefinders aren't permitted on the main tours, so how can the PGA of America allow them? Here's what the Rules say...

Why The PGA Of America Is Allowed To Permit Rangefinders

The PGA of America has announced that it will allow rangefinders to be used during its three Majors in 2021.

We'll see players and caddies using, most likely, laser rangefinders during the men's, women's and senior PGA Championships.

So, how has the PGA of America been able to do this when distance measuring devices (DMDs) are banned across most of the world's major tours?

Model Local Rule 8G, titled 'Restrictions on Use of Specific Equipment' allows a committee, or competition organiser, to "prohibit the use of any electronic distance-measuring devices."

This is the Local Rule that stops DMDs being common place in the professional game.

However, the PGA of America are permitting DMDs under Rule 4.3a (1), which allows rangefinders to be used in competition play as long as the slope function is turned off.

The organisation runs its Majors and half of the Ryder Cup, and is separate to the other big organisations like the PGA and European Tours.

Therefore, it can essentially run its events how it likes as long as they are played under the Rules of Golf.

Related: 'Rangefinders will 100% slow play down on tour' - Caddies react

The Rules of Golf, of course, allow DMDs to be used at all levels of the game, albeit the tours make use of the Model Local Rule mentioned above to prohibit them.

Rule 4.3a (1):

Allowed and Prohibited Uses of Equipment

  • Allowed: Getting information on distance or direction (such as from a distance-measuring device or compass)
  • Not Allowed: Measuring elevation changes, or Interpreting distance or directional information (such as using a device to get a recommended line of play or club selection based on the location of the player’s ball).

Related: The best laser rangefinders

The PGA of America says that it is introducing DMDs to help with the "flow of play," although there are doubts as to whether the devices will actually help.

Erik Van Rooyen, in reply to Trevor Immelman, tweeted that he thinks the argument that rangefinders on tour will speed up play is a "poor" one.

The South African wrote: "The argument that a range finder will speed up play is also a poor one. What does it take to step off a yardage from a sprinkler, 15 seconds?"

Immelman tweeted that if he was a caddie he would "hate the fact that there are green books and measuring devices allowed."

"IMO [In My Opinion] it takes the advantage away from the guys who put the extra work in," the 2008 Masters winner wrote.

Related: 7 Golf Gear Rules - Do you know them all?

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV