There are a wide range of highly sophisticated golf GPS devices and laser rangefinder devices available to us in the market at present. We can pick and choose from these devices to help us in our game. These devices are highly useful for golfers to improve their game by measuring the distances, locking targets, and help them with many other essential functions.
While it is really helpful to use them and also it may be legal to use such golf GPS and laser rangefinder devices in practice rounds, sometimes they may not be legal to use in tournaments. Read on to know more about the rules you should definitely know before you start using golf GPS devices and Laser Rangefinder devices in the tournaments.
II. RULE FOR USING GOLF GPS DEVICES IN GOLF TOURNAMENTS
The golf rules are controlled by the golf ruling associations, the USGA and R&A. The USGA is the Golf Association of the United States, and the R&A is Britain’s golf ruling body.
Back in 2006, both USGA and R&A have started following Rule, 14/3b which has allowed for rangefinders to be used if allowed by Local Rules.
Below are the general rules you need to learn before you start using Golf GPS device in golf tournaments.
III. ABOUT DISTANCE MEASURING DEVICES
Since January 1, 2014, Distance Measuring Devices have been allowed to be used by the USGA Committee. That means laser rangefinders, golf GPS devices, golf apps on smartphones can be legally used in golf tournaments.
According to Rule 14-3 the below is mentioned in the USGA website:
“During a stipulated round, the use of any distance measuring device is not permitted unless the Committee has introduced a Local Rule to that effect (see Note to Rule 14-3 and Appendix I; Part B; Section 9).
Even when the Local Rule is in effect, the device must be limited to measuring distance only. Features that would render the use of the device contrary to the Local Rule include, but are not limited to:
- The gauging or measuring of slope;
- The gauging or measuring of other conditions that might affect play (e.g., wind speed or direction, or other climate-based information such as temperature, humidity, etc.);
- Recommendations that might assist the player in making a stroke or in his play (e.g., club selection, type of shot to be played, green reading or any other advice related matter); or
- Calculating the effective distance between two points based on a slope or other conditions affecting short distance.
Such non-conforming features render the use of the device contrary to the Rules, irrespective of whether or not:
- The features can be switched off or disengaged; and
- The features are switched off or disengaged.”
IV. ABOUT ADVICE FROM CADDIES
The golfer is responsible for the rule violations committed even by his caddie. So, in the events where the GPS and rangefinders are banned, even the caddies cannot use them.
V. ABOUT USING AN IPHONE OR SMARTPHONE WITH INBUILT GOLF APPS
A Local rule which permits GPS and rangefinder devices gives provision for golfers to use their smartphones, but restricts the phone usage to only measuring distances. The measuring of slopes or wind conditions and such factors using the smartphone devices is banned.
Apart from limiting the multi-functional device to measure distances only, according to the rule mentioned in USGA website:
“In addition, when the distance measuring application is being used, there must be no other features or applications installed on the device that, if used, would be in breach of the Rules, whether or not they are actually used.”
The 14/3 rule helps the golfers in many cases to life the ban on using GPS devices. But still checking with the rules committee of each tour event before you participate in it is highly recommended. For more rule details, check out the rules here. For complete USGA rules, check this link.
Whatever the rules are given by the USGA and R&A, some of them can be overruled by the local rules of the golf course you will be playing at. So, it is better to check the rules of the golf course beforehand and then plan your game.
And again, the PGA, LPGA, and many other golf tours do not allow the use of the rangefinder devices in their tour events even today. So, before competing, check the rules sheet set by the committee and then decide.
It is really easy to get very comfortable with using the amazing sophisticated technology provided by the latest golf GPS and laser rangefinder devices available in the market. They help golfers with important calculations and are very useful to make crucial decisions.
And it is very important to know the rules for using these GPS devices and rangefinders before entering tournaments to avoid last minute tension if they are not allowed to be used. Regularly keep checking the latest news on the rules as they keep changing.