RangefinderNO. When golf was developing in Scotland in the late 1700s, golfers didn’t concern themselves with yardage calculations for approach shots to the green because they played the same courses over and over again, relying on past experience to gauge the distance of their shots. Fast forward 250 years. Today, players have a new toy in their bag – golf’s hottest product – a distance measuring device (DMD) commonly known as a rangefinder.

If you’re serious about the game, you will lay out $300 for a decent DMD, which function by laser or GPS. The world’s best players are banned from using rangefinders, but in 2006, the USGA and R & A began allowing tournament committees to insert a local rule permitting DMDs. The rules-makers still consider them illegal – the penalty is DQ – and you won’t find them in competition on the PGA Tour or other USGA events, including local qualifiers.

DMDs have become widely accepted at many competition levels, including state championships, club championships, NCAA events and most state junior golf programs. Proponents of the rangefinder, like the unscrupulous and unsophisticated Mr. Geary, will suggest it speeds up play, which has merit, but only for skilled players who can hit consistent shots to precise distances.

For slashers like Geary, with 15 handicaps or higher, the DMD will provide no benefit because the ballstriking isn’t near good enough to warrant exact yardage. Simply stated: they just don’t make putting surfaces large enough for guys like Geary to hit a wedge on the green from exactly 107-yards. Why does he think a DMD would help his pathetic game?

For decades, courses have installed 150-yard markers, marking the distance to the hole on sprinkler heads and providing yardage books to help calculate yardages. In most cases, finding accurate yardage meant calculating the distance between the ball and the nearest marker. Pacing off yardage is part of the ritual and rhythm of the round, and something I enjoy.

According to Bushnell Golf marketing manager Derek Schuman, “The sale of distance-measuring devices has become as lucrative as the market for putters. It has become a valuable piece of equipment for any golfer who’s serious about their game and rangefinders are staples in college golf, where some are team-issued.” Call me a traditionalist because I refuse to use a DMD. Golf is about going out and hitting the ball and going and finding it and hitting it again. It just doesn’t feel right and I don’t need technology providing me yardage information while playing. Quite jamming technology into my golf game!

Using a DMD in competition is like having a 15th club in your bag. The three most common devices are Lasers, GPS and Apps. Some lasers look like binoculars and provide precise distances to the flag. Some even compensate for slope telling the player how much extra club will be needed for an uphill shot, but the devices that provide slope-adjusted yardages are illegal for all competitions. GPS devices like the SkyCaddie use GPS information provided by satellite to give distances to the front, middle or back of the greens. Some come with preloaded courses and have been converted into watches for easier accessibility. Apps are also GPS-enabled through cellphones with IPhones being popular, and Golflogix claiming a huge market share.

Let’s keep digitally savvy geeks like Mr. Geary from ruining the game, pretending he needs another new toy to improve his scoring. Seems nobody is getting any better even though more new products and equipment are available every year. The rules of golf don’t allow swing devices on the course and I think it should be illegal to use a device requiring a 9 volt battery that needs replacement after 20 rounds. It’s time to draw the line on technology while in competition?

Tom Gorman sometimes thinks, after posting a snowman that score cards and yardage books are artificial and should not be permitted during play!