Accuracy is key in golf. When you use a rangefinder for golf, you can easily determine the yardage needed without the guesswork. There’s no need to count steps or try to use course markers that might be outdated. Rangefinders have become widespread in the golf world. But what are the rules for using a rangefinder in competitive golf?
The USGA Rule on Rangefinders
In the past, there has been some confusion surrounding the use of rangefinders in tournaments or rounds counted toward your handicap. Originally, it was illegal to use distance-measuring devices, such as gps or laser rangefinders, in these situations. But rangefinders had already found their way onto courses in practice rounds and recreational play. They could be used in amateur competitions as of 2014 and were accepted at most clubs.
In 2019, the USGA rules were changed to establish a clear verdict. According to USGA rule 4.3a, distance-measuring devices are officially permitted under the Rules of Golf. However, it is important to note that there are certain features of these devices that are still prohibited. A player may use a device that is capable of any prohibited function, as long as these functions are not accessed by the player during the round. Below is a breakdown of the legal devices, and features that these devices have that can and cannot be used.
Legal Devices for Golf:
- Laser rangefinder
- GPS watch
- Handheld GPS unit
- Mobile Phone
- Distance between two points (actual)
- Pre-published information (e.g., swing tips or advice on playing the hole)
- Local weather information
- Chart showing average club distances, obtained from prior rounds, for a wide range of clubs
- Displays of effective playing distance: slope-based and other plays-like distance information
- Club recommendation
- Processed or analyzed club distances from current round
- Gauged or measured variable environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed or altitude)
- Analysis or display of swing mechanics
The most popular of these prohibited features for rangefinders is slope measurement. Rangefinders that measure slope are able to tell you the change in elevation, giving you a “plays-like” yardage rather than the straight line distance. It’s a very useful feature that tells you the true distance the ball needs to travel, and one that you’ll find on many rangefinders. And while it is prohibited from use in play under USGA rules, you can still use a rangefinder that is capable of reading slope – as long as you turn that feature off prior to competition. If any prohibited feature cannot be turned off, the device is considered illegal.
It is important to note that the USGA rule allows for individual golf courses or competition committees to prohibit the use of rangefinders and other distance-measuring devices by Local Rule. Please check with your local course or tournament director if you are unsure of any local rules.
Which rangefinder is best for golf?
There are a large variety of rangefinders available, from a number of different manufacturers. We’d recommend several makers, including Bushnell, Nikon, Precision Pro, and Garmin. Many of these devices carry high price-tags, with some of the highest-end options on the market retailing for around $550.00. Thankfully, you don’t have to pay that much to have a high-quality, name-brand, fully functioning rangefinder. We sell all of the top models at discounted prices. Most of these are used, but still in great condition and full working order. You could pay full price for something straight out of the box, but our used options will provide the same important tool – distance to the pin – at a reasonable value. View all of our available rangefinders here.
How can I sell my rangefinder?
If you have a rangefinder that you’re no longer using because you’re upgrading to a newer model, or just taking a break from golf, we can help it find a new home. Receive a free quote from Golf Club Brokers on your rangefinder and turn it into cash!
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