For the first time in major professional competition, distance-measuring devices will be allowed this year at the three major championships run by the PGA of America: The PGA Championship, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the Kitchen Aid Senior PGA Championship.
The devices, which are used extensively in amateur and recreational play, allow a player or caddie to hone in on a flagstick or some other object in the distance to determine the exact yardage from where the ball lies at that moment.
But they have been banned on the major professional tours and at major championships via a local rule that allows for them to be prohibited.
“We’re always interested in methods that may help improve the flow of play during our championships,” said Jim Richerson, president of the PGA of America. “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.”
Rule 4.3a allows for the use of distance-measuring devices as long as players do not access information that is not allowed under the rules. That includes measuring elevation changes or getting a recommended line of play. Some devices allow slope readings, which can be turned off.
Most caddies and players on the professional tours carry detailed yardage books and use the devices during practice rounds to check them. There remains debate about whether they will actually improve pace of play at the highest levels.
The policy will begin at the PGA Championship, May 20-23, at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
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