Joy To The Measuring Devices

Golfweek's Jim Achenbach is “overjoyed” that the USGA and R&A are going to approve distance measuring devices for tournaments that wish to allow them.

The time it takes to play a round should improve because of this decision. Competitors who carry rangefinders or other distance measuring products will play faster because they will have immediate access to distance information. No more searching for sprinkler heads with distances on them. No more pacing forward or backward from the 150-yard markers.

Uh huh.

Rangefinders are all about faster play. This is one of the reasons the USGA and R&A have decided to change the rules. Like golf cars, distance measuring devices will be considered a "condition of play" and can be declared acceptable by any tournament (but don't expect the PGA Tour to allow their use).

And now a word our sponsors:

Who are the major companies in the distance measuring field? Who will benefit from this announcement by the USGA and R&A, expected to be made next week in conjunction with the Walker Cup at Chicago Golf Club? The 800-pound gorillas of the golf rangefinder business are Laser Link Golf and Bushnell Golf. Laser Link president Rob O'Loughlin has been the loudest cheerleader for distance measuring devices and has lobbied both the USGA and R&A for a rules change. Laser Link sells the popular Quicksilver line of rangefinders.

It would have been nice if Achenbach diclosed at this point that LaserLink is a steady Golfweek advertiser. But he doesn’t. He goes on to plug a few other distances devices and the wonders of speedy desert golf, then sums it all up:

To the USGA and R&A, I say bravo. This is a rules change that reflects what is happening in modern golf and makes absolute sense.

Now I hate to be picky, but today 2005's third plea for USGA membership came in the mail (thanks, I was running low on labels!). Membership is down to $15, so in essence, the USGA loses money if I sign up.
Anyhow, on the back of the form they mention their line about governing the game to “ensure that skill, not technology, determines your score.” How do handheld measuring devices fit into that concept?