Where They Stand On Distance Devices

Brad Klein looks at differing views on distance measuring devices. More impressively, he lists where each state and regional golf association stands on their use in tournament play.

A few interesting graphs:

The Ohio Golf Association, normally a maverick (as evidenced by its recent decision to require use of a single tournament ball in its Ohio Champions Tournament), has sided with those who view distance devices as a boon to play, and is allowing them in all competitions this year. Jim Popa, executive director of the OGA, said the rangefinder decision had "nothing to do with the ball issue; it's based on personal experience by those who have used some of these in play."

Popa was quick to add that the OGA decision had "no commercial links involved and no sponsorship money" and that use of the devices is "up to individual competitors. If there's a downside, not everyone can afford it."


Buford McCarty, executive director of the Alabama Golf Association and executive secretary of the Southern Golf Association, said he's "not convinced the (devices) will speed up play" and is comfortable with the decision of his two groups not to allow their use.

McCarty recently attended a college event that allowed the devices and that helped reinforce his associations' decision.

"We witnessed on more than one occasion players sighting distance and then walking off yardage from a fixed marker. On a couple of instances, after all this, we saw players then walk the distance from where their ball was to the green and back."

I've heard from some college coaches who said the devices actually made rounds slower, especially in the rain when players would fumble around with their device while trying to keep it dry and in its case!  No one ever said progress was waterproof.

Randy Reed is director of rules and competitions for the Maryland State Golf Association, secretary of the Middle Atlantic Golf Association and executive director of the Washington (D.C.) Metropolitan Golf Association – none of which are allowing rangefinders.

"In my 20 years of involvement in the golf association business," said Reed, "not one person has ever asked me: 'When are the golf associations going to legalize rangefinders?' " The pressure, he concludes, is coming from industry leaders, not golfers.