PGA Tour professionals are already insanely good when it comes to figuring out exactly what club to hit, and how hard to hit it. Now that they are going to be able to use a rangefinder, I expect things to get a little crazy.
Starting with the PGA Championship in May, the PGA of America is going to allow distance-measuring devices at the major. Note that I said the PGA of America and not the PGA Tour. This means that the PGA Championship will be the only men’s major in the upcoming season that will allow it, whereas the Masters and both Opens will not.
There is a caveat to this, and it’s one that extends to any tournaments many people who play just for fun are entered in down to high school as well.
You can use a rangefinder, but you are not allowed to use one that has the slope function enabled.
This is an important note for a big reason. Say you are 145 yards away. I say that number, and by the time you have gotten here, you already know what club you are planning on hitting from there.
How that changes though is when it comes to the slope. What happens if you are hitting a few yards downhill, or up onto a blind green. This helps you calculate that, and can even further give you a more accurate number. That function will have to be turned off.
Remember, if we are pairing the ability to use a rangefinder with the fact that once it is a player’s turn to hit, they only have 45 seconds. This means that players aren’t going to have that long to use their rangefinder, and when they do, they are going to need to be able to do it quickly and efficiently.
I don’t know about you, but I’m terrible at using a rangefinder. A large part of that is due to the fact that I have shaky hands, so I am never able to quite get a line on the flagstick. I’ve taken to using a GPS watch, which has always been legal as long as it doesn’t provide any slope numbers, just like a rangefinder.
I’ve even seen it a handful of times where people miss the flagstick, and instead hit either the rough in front of the green, or more often, they hit the hill behind the green. Imagine the drama this is going to cause the first time this happens. Can you imagine Jon Rahm losing his mind because he thought the flagstick was at 185 but was instead at 170, and he flies it off the back of the green? Oh man, I can see it now.
The PGA Tour isn’t the only one that are going to be allowing the use of rangefinders. The Women’s PGA Championship as well as the Senior PGA Championship are also going to allow them to be used this year.
I do wonder if this is going to cause more of an issue with how fans view the PGA Tour. There has already been a lot of talk recently about limiting the equipment that they are able to use on the PGA Tour in an attempt to reduce distance, pulling back on how these players are able to bomb and gouge their way down a course, being able to go driver/wedge on anything inside 500 yards.
Now, they are going to be able to see that, from today’s tee box, it is 317 to carry the bunker on the right side of the fairway. Yesterday, they knew it was 326 and they couldn’t carry it. Today is a different story, all thanks to the rangefinder.
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