Can You Use a Rangefinder in a Golf Tournament?

Although not completely banned, there are regulations. The rules aren’t written on a rock; they keep changing. For instance, for a long time, electronics weren’t allowed in golfing. So, Can you use a rangefinder in a golf tournament?

Can You Use a Rangefinder in a Golf Tournament?

However, advancement in technology paved the way for further amendment of the golfing rules. Today, the law allows for the user of rangefinders in tournaments. But there’s a catch; they prohibit some features. You can use devices like golf, GPS, and smartphones with several features disabled.

So, what makes the difference? Why are some golf rangefinders allowed and others banned? Well, this is a broad topic. However, since you’re already here, we shall go through it together. The rules are stipulated in Rule 14-3.

Can you use a rangefinder in a golf tournament and What is Rule 14-3?

This law states that no golfer should access any device, which gives them an advantage over the other competitors. However, it has undergone a number of amendments over the years. It seeks to offer an average gauge for skills and performance.

Strict adherence to the rules would disqualify most GPS devices and laser rangefinders in tournaments. However, these devices are still used. So, does that mean the users break the law?

This rule saw the first amendment in 2006. The amendment allowed the use of rangefinders in measuring distances. However, it had banned any devices with slope and other unacceptable features.

In 2016, the law was changed to allow the use of devices with banned features. However, one had to switch the features off. That’s where the leeway to use GPS, and laser rangefinders sneaked through.

What isn’t allowed in tournaments?

Well, as previously mentioned, several features fail the test for tournaments. Of course, the laws have undergone a constant metamorphosis, getting better each day. So, what features go against the rules for golf tournaments?

Slope reading

This is the first banned feature. The slope offers readings for the degree of elevation. Additionally, the feature also helps in detecting the vertical distance on a hilly surface. While this passes for non-official plays, it fails when it comes to tournaments.

Why is slope reading banned in tournaments? Well, the obvious reason would be creating a uniform playing field. Slope reading gives the user an edge over the other competitors. This way, they would have some advantage, making the sport unfair.

Rangefinder INFO Articles with Category CTA
Golf Rangefinder - Informational Articles

Of course, the rules keep changing. Who knows, it might be allowed in the future. However, as of now, slope reading is illegal in tournaments.

Measuring weather conditions like wind speed using in-built features

This is another banned practice in golf tournaments. One can’t measure the wind speed when in a tournament. Of course, there’s a good reason for that.

Knowledge in wind speed helps one inn determining how hard they hit the ball. It’d also tell them the wind direction and how much resistance to expect. Of course, that gives undue advantage for the user.

However, there’s a leeway for this feature. You can check for other weather conditions like thunder and storm. These two won’t have any impact on your performance. So, you still have a way to enjoy your GPS watch.

Contacting trainer/coach

Of course, this is like contacting your teacher in an interschool competition. I mean, the teacher will give some tips making you beat the other students. So, during a round, you cannot contact your trainer. Of course, you can do so after your round.

In a nutshell, most rules aim at offering a level ground for all competitors. Of course, golfing as a sport aims at rewarding competitors on merit. So, fairness is key!

Checking swing analysis software

This is like going into an examination room with your phone. I doubt if your teacher would allow that. The same principal applies to golf tournaments. You can’t review swing analysis videos while still playing.

Likewise, you are not allowed to review swing path technology.

Club suggestion features

You cannot access your club suggestions or previous data before ending your round. What does this mean? You must be aware that some devices record data and keep it for future use. Some even indicate how far you last hit the shot.

With previous information, you could use it to determine how hard you hit the ball this time. This way, you have an advantage over the others. That’s why this feature isn’t allowed.

Wait, so, what can one do then? Most people worry about the fact that their rangefinders already have these features. Does that mean they won’t be using the gadgets? First, these are rules for competitive tournaments.

So, you can still use your gadgets with these features on a different platform. For instance, you could use them when competing for fun or when training.

Can I still use my golf ranger finder in a tournament with these features?

Can you Use a Rangefinder in a Golf Tournament? While one might not use the features mentioned above, there’s an option for disabling them.

Disabling some features wasn’t available before. However, modern golf rangefinders offer the opportunity for disabling illegal functions. So, no cause for alarm, don’t throw away your gadget just yet.

For instance, if you have a laser rangefinder with slope, simply switch the slope off and use the device.

In short, these are the practices not allowed in a golf tournament:

  • Reading the slope
  • Accessing weather data like wind speed
  • Contacting your trainer
  • Reviewing swing technology software
  • Using club suggestion features

What is allowed in tournaments?

So much about what we can’t do! How about we also check what is allowed in a golf tournament.

Measure distances to green, trees, and hazards

No one would question you for measuring yardages to the green, trees, hazards, and others. Of course, that’s the use of a rangefinder. However, getting any other data not allowed would result in disqualification.

Every golf rangefinder offers this function. So, there wouldn’t be any case of unfairness. For that reason, don’t worry when getting the distance to green or any other obstacle.

Share information with other playing competitors

Although you can’t share details with your coach, you can share it with your fellow players. This isn’t an issue since they are also in the tournament. Of course, they wouldn’t use the data for the wrong reasons. Neither would they offer undue assistance since they also want to win.

Record round data

Recording your details like distances, scores, and other important details won’t put you on the wrong side of the laws. However, these details shouldn’t, in any way, help you in beating your opponents. Of course, you can use them later.

Access texts, calls, and notifications:

Although communication with your coach isn’t allowed during a round, you can still receive texts and notifications. In fact, you can pick calls as well. However, this is a rather tricky one, so better be careful.

Check weather conditions

Like earlier mentioned, one can’t get weather details like wind speed and probably directions. However, you can access information like storm or rain. Of course, the two have little, to not, benefit for the golfer.

In short, here are the allowed practices

  • Share GPS data among players
  • Measure distance to target or obstacles
  • Record distances and other data after shots
  • Access to clock, calendar, and other basic information
  • Receive text, notifications, and calls
  • Access recorded swings after the round
  • Check weather conditions

Which golf rangefinders are legal for tournament play?

Can you Use a Rangefinder in a Golf Tournament? As we have previously explained. The answer still remains a yes and a no.

However, you must be wondering which golf rangefinders are legal for tournament play. The golf governing body allows people to use the following devices:

Stand-alone devices

Stand-alone devices include Laser rangefinders and golf GPS. Whether hand-held or GPS golf watches, there’s no limitation. However, these devices must fulfill the requirements mentioned above. Failure to which renders them illegal

Multi-functional devices

These are more sophisticated and versatile devices like phones and tablets. Although they are designed to perform other tasks, they could also estimate course distances. Likewise, the devices must also meet all the conditions listed above.

Can you take a golf rangefinder on a plane?

Well, some people ask this question a lot. It all depends on the state’s regulations. However, I have taken my rangefinder on a plane several times, and nothing happened.

Can you use rangefinder in school?

Well, rangefinders aren’t allowed in schools by the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA). However, high school associations had to take a look at their rules. So, it differs from different states and tournaments.

Final Thoughts

Can you Use a Rangefinder in a Golf Tournament? If you had that question, you’re now sorted. Although rangefinders are allowed, there are limitations. However, the latest amendments appear to favor golfers. Who knows, more amendments could be on their way.

For more golfing tips, stick around!

Last Updated on by Paul Roger Steinberg