Rangefinders not the answer to slow play

2014 02 Rangefinder

The R&A and USGA have been roundly praised in the last few weeks for allowing distance measuring devices - like GPS watches and laser rangefinders - to be used in some of their events.


This, according to some, will help speed up play.

Really? Prove it.

I play a lot of golf. It’s an occupational hazard, you could say. I’ve played in groups where people having used rangefinders and groups where they’ve not and, honestly, I haven’t noticed any quickening of the pace because someone is using one of these admittedly genius contraptions.

I’ve got one myself and, believe me, it takes me just as long to get round when I’m using it as when I’m not.

Some people seem to confuse the fact that you get exact yardages quicker and easier with rangefinders with playing faster. That's garbage.

Their logic doesn’t allow for the time spent rifling through your bag to find your device, nor the time spent double, triple, and quadruple checking the number it gives you.

Not kidding, if I had a pound for every time I’ve seen someone use a rangefinder or GPS watch, only to then compare it against their strokesaver or fairway marker, I’d be a rich man.
It’s just nothing - absolutely nothing - to do with GPS devices or rangefinders. To suggest it is, is to dodge the real issues.

The most unfortunate thing about all of this is that people mistakenly believing that rangefinders speed up a round is detracting from the real facts of the matter - that the crux of the slow play debate is all about etiquette. Nothing more, nothing less.

Slow play is caused by people either playing slow deliberately or playing slow unintentionally. Both can be remedied with a quiet word in their ear. If that fails, then you discipline them. Simple.

The same applies to slow players on tour. They need to be told they’re taking too long to get round and, if they continue, be hit with shot penalties. See how long it takes them to play when they have the threat of two shots being added to their score in the scorer’s hut after their round - and the loss of earnings that goes with that. Define the rules and apply them where needed.

It’s not rocket science. It’s just nothing - absolutely nothing - to do with GPS devices or rangefinders. To suggest it is, is to dodge the real issues.

By all means, laud these devices for what they are: cool gadgets which give you accurate distance readings. But, please, let’s not pretend they’re something they’re not.

Do rangefinders speed up play? 


Is Michael McEwan right - do GPS devices and laser rangefinders make no difference to the pace of play? Share your thoughts and experiences in our 'Comments' section below.

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