The use of distance measuring devices will be allowed during competition rounds at the PGA majors in America this year across their three tours.
They will come into play for the PGA Championship, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
The move has been welcomed by six times European Tour winner Simon Dyson, now a highly respected coach who runs an academy at the Mottram Hall club in Cheshire.
Dyson said: “‘It’s great to see the PGA of America at the forefront on this, I think it’s a really positive move by them, long overdue and it is great to see them trying something new.”
Said Jim Richerson, president of the PGA of America: “We’re always interested in methods that may help improve the flow of play during our Championships.
“The use of distance-measuring devices is already common within the game and is now a part of the Rules of Golf.
“Players and caddies have long used them during practice rounds to gather relevant yardages.”
This policy will debut with the 2021 PGA Championship over The Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, from May 17-23.
If the devices are to be allowed in all four main men’s majors – adding the Masters, The Open Championship and the US Open – this will involve input from the European Tour and the PGA Tour in America and rulings from the R&A and the United States Golf Association.
Each tour and governing body will make their own decision as they deem appropriate.
The PGA of America have shared their change with the other bodies and are unaware of what each plans to do.
Dyson added: “It’s great to see them trying something new, even if it’s just a trial period to see how it goes.
At the end of the day, you will never know unless you trial it. There’s so much made about slow play and how to solve that issue, this just makes life a lot easier.”
Dyson says the groundbreaking move by the US PGA won’t detract from the role of the caddy during tournaments.
He added: “It will only go to enhance their role and enable decision making to be a faster and more precise process as well as speeding up play.
“Using laser range finders has until now only been allowed during practice play and almost all players and their caddies use the technology to help them plan their strategy for tournament days.
“Caddies these days are so good at working out distances around the course, using this technology will assist with their job even more, and allow more accuracy to come into play.
“Players can walk up to their ball, get their distance and hit their shot.”
The devices used by players and/or caddies in PGA of America championships will need to conform to the Rules of Golf regarding their use and performance as follows:
Rule 4.3a (1)
Distance and Directional Information.
- Allowed: Getting information on distance or direction (such as from a distance-measuring device or compass).
- Not Allowed: Measuring elevation changes, or interpreting distance or directional information (such as using a device to get a recommended line of play or club selection based on the location of the player’s ball).