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You might spot a few players and caddies using distance-measuring devices when “golf’s strongest field” lines up for the second men’s major of the season. So why are rangefinders allowed at the PGA Championship?

The PGA of America announced the surprise policy ahead of the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island – and that would also be implemented in all tournaments run by the governing body, including the Women’s PGA Championship and Senior PGA Championship.

rangefinders pga championship
Grace Kim uses a rangefinder during the final round of the 2023 Women’s PGA Championship. (Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The devices, though, will need to conform to the Rules of Golf, specifically Rule 4.3a (1), which pertains to ‘Distance and Directional Information’.

It includes the following conditions:

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).

• What are the best golf rangefinders?

• Should you use a rangefinder or GPS watch for golf?

Why are rangefinders allowed at the PGA Championship?

The governing body explained that the decision had been taken with a view to combatting slow play.

“We’re always interested in methods that may help improve the flow of play during our championships,” PGA of America president Jim Richerson explained at the time.

“The use of distance-measuring devices is already common within the game and is now a part of the Rules of Golf. Players and caddies have long used them during practice rounds to gather relevant yardages.”

Whether or not the move has worked remains to be seen, especially as a lot of caddies prefer to rely on their yardage books. It seems that they have mostly been used when a player is out of position – so you could argue that has helped with the pace of play.

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