The player experience?
Maintaining the challenge and spirit of the game while allowing distance measuring devices, as long as they don't measure that other stuff?
Thankfully, the USGA is in no way declaring DMD's to be a cure-all for slow play, a decent-sized victory if you consider the lukewarm language here.
But this separation of the amateur events from the pro events won't quiet the bifurcation crowd either...
USGA TO ALLOW DISTANCE-MEASURING DEVICES IN ITS AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIPS FOR 2014
Will Continue to Study the Impact of DMDs on Pace of Play
Village of Pinehurst, N.C. (Feb. 6, 2014) – In a continuing effort to allow current technologies that enhance the player experience in competition while maintaining the spirit and challenge of the game, the United States Golf Association (USGA) has approved the use of distance-measuring devices (DMDs) in all USGA amateur championships and their respective qualifying events, beginning in 2014. The announcement was made by the Championship Committee of the USGA through its independent decision-making process scheduled during the Association’s Annual Meeting in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C., and reflects a joint decision with The R&A, which together with the USGA governs the game worldwide.
The use of distance-measuring devices has been covered by an optional Local Rule, which has been available under the Rules of Golf since 2006 (see Note to Rule 14-3 of the Rules of Golf), and the USGA Championship Committee’s vote adopts this optional Condition for all USGA amateur championships in 2014.
This Local Rule will be introduced for the USGA’s amateur events only. It will not apply to the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open championships or their respective qualifying events.
The devices may be used in amateur championships to measure distance only, and may not be used to measure other conditions such as wind speed or direction, temperature or elevation.
“We have seen progressive developments in technologies available to golfers who seek to improve their playing performance and enjoyment that also maintain the essential elements of the game,” said Thomas J. O’Toole Jr., USGA vice president and chairman of the Championship Committee. “It is in this spirit that we are allowing the use of distance-measuring devices in our amateur competitions.”
The decision to allow the use of distance-measuring devices follows a recent study of such technologies during the 2013 USGA Women’s State Team and U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur championships as part of the Association’s broad initiative to identify the causes and solutions to slow play in the game. From the data collected at these championships, USGA researchers found no evidence that DMDs had a negative impact on pace of play and will continue to monitor the use of DMDs in the larger pool of amateur events to further study their effect on pace of play.