When Do PGA Players use Rangefinders?
Believe it or not, rangefinders are most commonly found and used amongst regular weekend golfers rather than PGA Tour professionals. You may be asking yourself why, while reading the previous sentence. Well here is why, they are actually based by the United States Golf Association (USGA) for use during tournaments. Think about a time that you have seen a pro use a rangefinder during a tournament, you probably cannot, and neither can I. Instead they use their caddies and yardage books to combat the lack of rangefinders, but why would the USGA do this?
The short answer is professionalism, the same reason why you never see a professional wearing shorts during a tournament. While most golfers do on any given day during the summer. It would not be a good look for golf if players were pulling out rangefinders left and right at every shot to determine the perfect distance. It also creates a much greater challenge for the players. Given a certain distance a professional player could most likely hit this yardage nine times out of ten, but without a rangefinder to check it leaves a lot more thinking for the players and caddies. They must rely on their yardage books and experience to select exactly the right club for the job, which is quite a daunting task since every stroke in professional golf is worth tens of thousands of dollars. However, where do these yardage books come from?
Although they are not allowed to use a rangefinder during the rounds of a tournament, they are allowed to use rangefinders during their practice rounds the week prior to a tournament. This is exactly how players and caddies work together to prepare their yardage book that they will rely on so heavily throughout the tournament.
This ability to utilize the rangefinder helps the players lock down exact distances on the course and develop an essential strategy prior to the tournament. Determining whether to use a driver or hybrid off the tee, and how far each club will leave you for a second shot into the green. Or where bunkers and hazards are throughout the course, and what distances are required to avoid these hazards. As well as where the pins could be placed throughout the greens and the distance that each green is. All these factors and more go into creating the yardage book that is essential for professional golfers.
Now just because rangefinders cannot be used in professional tournaments, does not mean they are illegal in youth or collegiate tournaments. Since most younger athletes are amateurs they typically play without a caddie and during tournaments may not have the opportunity to play a practice round at the course. Therefore, it is allowed at the amateur level for use nationwide, a great holiday or birthday gift for a golfer you may know. Overall, rangefinders are not allowed for use in professional tournaments, they are still used by both professional golfers and amateur athletes alike.