RangefinderThere are many causes of slow play on a golf course, but one that has become completely unnecessary, because of technology, is figuring out just how far away from the target you are. Rangefinders, whether they are GPS or laser based, expedite what used to be an oft painstaking and lengthy practice.

Having somebody in your group with a rangefinder is particularly helpful to the pace of play when you are playing at a club that doesn’t allow carts to leave the paths. It also helps you play better and more efficiently and to those who oppose their use in competition (see the guy on the left), my response is go back to hickory shafted clubs and gutta purcha balls. Anyone who knows me also understands that I am by nature a traditionalist. But I’m also a pragmatist, unlike Gorman, who still thinks the world is flat and would prefer traveling around the course on a donkey instead of an electric cart.

I’m lying. Gorman loves his titanium headed driver, with its graphite shaft, striking a three piece Pro V. He, like the rest of us, has embraced the technology that has made the game easier (but not easy) and more enjoyable. Each week we watch professional golfers confer with their caddies on a particular yardage as they look at their yardage books, which have over the past 50 years or so become the road maps of the various tours.

What we don’t see are the caddies arriving on site early in the week and walking the course, using rangefinders to get their yardages and then transcribing that knowledge into those little books. The rangefinders get used in preparation for competition so why can’t they be used IN competition? It makes no sense whatsoever. Fortunately many club tournaments for amateurs have no such stupid rules. If you have the willingness to spend a few extra bucks to pick up an electronic device that helps your game, you’re welcome to it. We still are faced with the prospect of actually having to hit the shot, which for us remains the most significant challenge. It’s just so much more enjoyable to actually know you have the right club in your hand instead of guessing and it’s certainly more enjoyable for everyone when an extra half hour is lopped off the time on the course because the players aren’t walking hither and yon, looking for sprinkler heads, especially when they are hitting from an adjoining fairway.

I’ve had a rangefinder now for the past three years. My handicap has not gone either up or down so it stands to reason that I’m not getting an unfair advantage. What I am getting is an earlier idea of how far away I am and what club I want to hit. Considering where Gorman often finds himself on a golf course one would assume he’d love the idea of a rangefinder. He’s often in places that have yet to be discovered by humans, much less marked off to the middle of the green.

There are some state golfing association that allow the use of rangefinders in their competitions and some that allow it on a limited basis. A couple of years ago, in the Rhode Island State Amateur final, a rangefinder was used by one of the officials to determine which of the competitors was away. It made complete sense and it left no doubt. Those who don’t want to see the rangefinder in the game are probably those who would have us still living in caves. Even Gorman, whose batty, hates caves.

Tim Geary is a R.I. Based freelance writer. He once used a rangefinder to find his way back to civilization after hitting one of his infamous snap hooks.