USGA Rules of Golf Rangefinder in 2023

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For golfers who want to play by the official USGA rules, a rangefinder is an invaluable tool. With a rangefinder, you can quickly and accurately measure your distances to the pin or any other point on the course. It helps give you a better understanding of how far you need to hit each shot and can even help reduce your strokes with its precision.

In this article, we’ll explain what the USGA rules of golf have to say about rangefinders and how they can benefit your game.

Evolution of Rangefinder Rules in Golf

The historical journey of golf rangefinders demonstrates the sport’s adaptability to modern technologies while maintaining its core values of fairness and skill. Initially, players relied on judgment and course familiarity to estimate distances, with rangefinders being of little concern. However, as technology advanced and precision became crucial, the introduction of rangefinders sparked debates that reshaped the sport’s rules.

Not so long ago, rangefinders were viewed as an intrusion upon the traditional essence of golf. The art of calculating distances and making precise club selections was deeply embedded in the game’s identity. Consequently, when rangefinders initially emerged, they were met with skepticism and apprehension from golf purists who feared that relying on technology might diminish the skills and instincts honed by players over generations.

The pivotal moment in the evolution of rangefinder rules arrived with the formulation of the USGA Rule 14-3. This rule, established by the United States Golf Association, addressed the use of “any artificial device or unusual equipment for the purpose of gauging or measuring distance or conditions which might affect play.” Rule 14-3 marked a delicate balance between embracing technology and preserving the integrity of the game.

Initially, the USGA adhered to the conservative stance, maintaining that distance-measuring devices that used slope, wind, or other conditions as factors were prohibited during competition. However, recognizing the inevitability of technological progress and the potential benefits for players, the USGA began to revise its position.

Balancing Tradition and Innovation

The journey from the outright prohibition of rangefinders to their conditional acceptance showcases golf’s willingness to evolve while respecting its traditions. The compromise struck by the USGA Rule 14-3 acknowledges that while technology can aid golfers in measuring distances more accurately, it should not undermine the essence of the sport: skillful decision-making and strategic play.

USGA Rules of Golf: Current Guidelines on Rangefinders

Under the current USGA rules, the use of rangefinders is allowed, but there are some restrictions. Rangefinders can only be used for distance measuring purposes and must not provide any other data or advice related to the game of golf.

USGA Rule 14-3 essentially permits the use of distance-measuring devices in golf, including rangefinders, with a few essential caveats. Under this rule, players are allowed to use devices that measure or gauge distance only. The critical distinction lies in the fact that these devices are restricted from providing any information that could potentially offer a competitive advantage beyond distance measurement.

This means that golfers can utilize rangefinders that solely provide yardages to specific points on the course, such as the flagstick, hazards, or other landmarks. The intent behind this rule is to assist players in gauging the distances accurately, enhancing their decision-making processes without compromising the core skills required to play the game effectively.


According to current USGA rules, rangefinders are allowed in golf with restrictions. They can only measure distances and must not provide any other data or advice. Rule 14-3 permits distance-measuring devices, like rangefinders, but they should only provide distance information. Golfers can use rangefinders to measure distances to specific points on the course. This rule helps players gauge distances accurately without compromising essential skills. The USGA aims to preserve the integrity of the game by allowing only distance information. Devices that offer extra information, like slope adjustments or club recommendations, are not compliant with Rule 14-3.

Staying Informed: USGA Regulations and Resources

It’s essential for golfers to stay informed about the USGA’s rules and regulations related to rangefinder usage. Players should review the most up-to-date version of Rule 14-3 before using a rangefinder during competition to ensure that they remain compliant at all times.

The USGA provides a variety of resources for players looking to gain greater insight into the rules governing their sport. Players can view regularly updated versions of its rules and regulations, read FAQs, or check out helpful webinars that give a more in-depth look at specific topics.

The USGA also offers players an opportunity to submit questions online relating to rangefinder usage during competition. This gives golfers access to more detailed information and helps ensure that they remain in full compliance with all applicable rules.


Does USGA allow range finders?

Take, for example, the USGA’s own tournaments. In major amateur events such as the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Junior Amateur, participants and their caddies are allowed to utilize rangefinders without the slope function. However, in all Open championships, the use of rangefinders is strictly prohibited.

Can you use a rangefinder on the PGA Championship 2023?

Yes, you can use a rangefinder on the PGA Championship 2023 as long as it does not possess any slope-adjusted features and is in compliance with USGA regulations. The USGA has outlined specific rules and regulations related to rangefinder usage in its Rule 14-3 that players must follow when using a rangefinder during competition. For more information on local rules that may be in effect during the PGA Championship 2023, players should contact their local governing bodies.

What kind of features are allowed by USGA Rules?

The USGA’s Rule 14-3 permits players or caddies to use devices such as smartphones with approved applications. Other features are also allowed, such as the ability to compare distances between different points on the course for more informed decision-making. However, rangefinders that offer slope-adjusted yardages and other data points are not permitted in competition under Rule 14-3.

What makes a rangefinder tournament legal?

A rangefinder tournament is legal as long as all competitors are using devices that meet USGA regulations. Players should always check and abide by any local rules that may be in effect before using a rangefinder during competition. Additionally, players should make sure their rangefinders do not possess any slope-adjusted features if playing in a tournament governed by USGA regulations.

Are rangefinders with slope legal?

Rangefinders with slope-adjusted features are not permitted in competition under Rule 14-3. If playing in a tournament governed by USGA regulations, players should make sure their rangefinders do not possess any slope-adjusted features to ensure compliance with all applicable rules.

Are rangefinder apps legal?

Rangefinder apps are permissible as long as they only provide distance measurements and conform to USGA regulations. These apps offer a convenient, affordable solution for golfers who want to access distance-measuring information without having to invest in expensive rangefinders or GPS devices.

Are rangefinders allowed at the US Open?

The use of rangefinders is strictly prohibited in all Open championships, including the U.S. Open. Players are not allowed to use any distance-measuring device during competition, regardless of whether it conforms to USGA regulations or not. Furthermore, caddies are also prohibited from using rangefinders during the U.S. Open and other Open championships.

Are GPS devices allowed in competitive play?

GPS devices are prohibited under USGA regulations, regardless of whether they also provide data such as wind speed and direction readings or other information. Players should ensure that their devices do not possess any of these features if they are using them for practice or in non-competitive rounds of golf. However, players and caddies can use GPS devices to check course layout, hole locations, and other relevant information before competition begins.

Can PGA Tour caddies use a rangefinder?

PGA Tour caddies are not permitted to use rangefinders during competition in accordance with USGA regulations. However, they are allowed to use rangefinders for practice or during other non-competitive rounds of golf.



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Dominic J. Leon
Dominic J. Leon. I am a golfer with a deep passion for golf right from my childhood. I have added unbiased product reviews for all the latest golf equipment from the market leaders. Follow me on: Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin, Tumblr.
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