Every once in a while, I still hear someone say that using a golf rangefinder is like cheating. I suspect most who feel this way have been playing golf for a long time and resist changes that might make the game easier. I get that. I was disappointed when some of the state Opens that I caddied, started allowing rangefinders during tournament rounds. The edge I’d always had was pre-tournament preparation. Rangefinders in tournament rounds leveled the playing field a bit for the less experienced caddies and players.
But is there a solid argument to be made against the legal use of golf rangefinders? First there were 150 bushes, then 100, 150, and 200 yard markers in the fairway became common. Next were the marked sprinkler heads. Each of these made it easier to choose the right club. The difference of course, is that these markers are available to all players. You must bring your own laser or GPS to get the advantage they provide… Or play with someone who owns one and is willing to share information.
Still, yardage is readily available on most golf courses and I bet most of those who complain about rangefinders, use those markers. So is the only real difference that rangefinders speed up play? Well not exactly… both GPS and laser rangefinders provide a little extra information… Laser gives exact distance to the pin or other visible targets, something that yardage markers can’t do yet. GPS can provides yardage to the front and back of the green, which isn’t available on most yardage markers, although I have seen it. Many GPS units also allow you to find out how far it is to any point on a hole.
Is that why don’t the major tours haven’t made them legal. The USGA made the rule to allow rangefinders via a local rule, but they won’t allow them in their own tournaments. This is a bit of a mystery to me… At the highest levels of golf, players and/or caddies WILL have exact yardage to every target they need. Rangefinders would make it easier and faster, but if they are not allowed during the competition, top caddies and players will do their homework ahead of time. The biggest stages in golf are the least likely places for golf rangefinders to give an advantage. They could speed up play a bit though.
For the average golfer, laser and GPS devices will not only speed up play, but will probably improve scores. So yes, they probably it “easier”, but for most of us, the game still scrapes by as tough enough to hold our attention. Technology has changed golf in many ways and let’s be honest, even the so-called purists have a giant 460cc driver in their bags!
Also see: Is Your Golf Rangefinder ‘Legal’?