The good news? The PGA Tour is using the Web.com Tour to experiment with something new. The reluctance to do so has always been a surprise at how little this tour, the other satellite tours or the Champions Tour are not used to test formats or rule changes.
Allowing the use of rangefinders on such a stage will, once and for all, allow us to see if they speed up play on the professional level and how they "look" to a television audience. I suspect, as we've seen with other elite golf where players use rangefinders as a way to double check what they learn via traditional yardage books, that play will not speed up.
There will also be the dreadful optics of watching someone looking through a device, which is about as fun as watching people test virtual reality devices. Perhaps the rule will allow caddies to use them but not players?
But now we'll have data and visuals so that we can remember how rangefinders really only help when a player hits their tee shot into the other fairway.
For Immediate Release:
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (March 28, 2017) – The PGA TOUR has announced that it will begin testing the use of distance measuring devices during competition at select tournaments this year on the Web.com Tour, Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.
Each of the three Tours will allow use of the devices by players and caddies at four consecutive tournaments, including Monday qualifiers. For these events, the PGA TOUR will temporarily enact a Local Rule in accordance with Decision 14-3/0.5 of The R&A/USGA Rules of Golf, which stipulates the device can be used to measure distance only (use of functions to measure slope, elevation or wind will not be allowed).
The Web.com Tour tournaments are: the BMW Charity Pro Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation, May 15-21 in Greenville, S.C.; the Rex Hospital Open, May 29-June 4 in Raleigh, N.C.; the Rust-Oleum Championship, June 5-11 in Ivanhoe, Ill.; and the Air Capital Classic, June 12-18 in Wichita, Kan.
PGA TOUR Latinoamérica will do its testing at the last four tournaments of the schedule’s first segment: the Essential Costa Rica Classic, April 20-23; the Quito Open, June 1-4 in Ecuador; the Puerto Plata DR Open, June 8-11 in the Dominican Republic; and the Jamaica Classic, June 15-18.
The Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada will test at: the GolfBC Championship, June 15-18 in Kelowna, British Columbia; the Players Cup, July 6 - 9 in Winnipeg, Manitoba; the Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel, July 13 - 16 in Thunder Bay, Ontario; and the Mackenzie Investments Open presented by Jaguar Laval, July 20 - 23 in Mirabel, Quebec.
“For years there has been significant discussion and debate about whether distance measuring devices would have a positive or negative impact on competition at the highest levels of professional golf,” said Andy Pazder, Chief Tournaments and Competitions Officer of the PGA TOUR. “The only way we can accurately assess their impact is to conduct an actual test during official competition on one or more of our Tours. We look forward to seeing how these tests go and carefully evaluating the use of the devices over those weeks. Our evaluation will consider the impact on pace of play, optics and any other effects they might have on the competition."
Once the test and comprehensive evaluation is completed, the PGA TOUR will share the results with its Player Advisory Council on all of its Tours for additional review and discussion.