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‘It’s not going to speed up play:’ Players, caddies react to PGA of America’s move to allow rangefinders at PGA Championship

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – The PGA of America believes tempo of play will enhance on this week’s PGA Championship by permitting the use of distance-measuring gadgets.

Players and caddies say not so quick.

Committed to speed up play, the PGA of America is the primary main governing physique to allow distance-measuring gadgets in its foremost skilled occasions, beginning with the 103rd version of the PGA Championship this week on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.

“We’re always interested in methods that may help improve the flow of play during our championships,” Jim Richerson, president of the PGA of America, mentioned in a media launch in February asserting the choice. “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.”

The response from gamers and caddies? It. Will. Slow. Play. Down.


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“I love what the PGA of America is trying to do. The organization has been at the forefront of change,” mentioned Paul Tesori, longtime bag man for Webb Simpson. “The PGA Championship is the only major we’ve played lift, clean and place. The PGA of America was the first to allow shorts.

“But I think they reached into an area where I don’t think we need help.”

His boss agreed.

“This is a fact: it’s not going to speed up play because everybody I know and have talked to, we still want front numbers, and the range finder, you can’t always get the accurate front number,” mentioned Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion and present world No. 10. “So you’ll probably have the player shoot the pin, the caddie will walk off the number because I’m going to want what’s front. I haven’t read the reasoning behind it or their desire to test it out that week, but I don’t think it will really make a difference.”

And as Scott Sajtinac, caddie for 2013 PGA champion Jason Dufner, mentioned: “Too much information is needed that is unzappable by a laser. But some will sure try to laser something extra.”

PGA Championship

PGA Championship

Harry Diamond, caddie for Rory McIlroy, makes use of a rangefinder throughout a apply spherical prior to the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Resort’s Ocean Course on May 17, 2021 in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. (Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

The gadgets, in accordance with Rule 4.3a (1), can solely report on distance and path. Those that can also calculate different knowledge together with elevation adjustments and wind speeds, are not allowed.

Since 2006, rangefinders and GPS gadgets have been allowed for leisure golf and tournaments with the rule stating that native guidelines would allow match committees to ban them. While rangefinders have been allowed within the U.S. Amateur since 2014, prime skilled occasions, together with the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open, do not allow such utilization.

As properly, the PGA Tour performed a four-tournament check of distance-measuring gadgets on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2017 however did not change its view.

“We decided at the time to continue to prohibit their use in official competitions on the PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions and Korn Ferry Tour for the foreseeable future,” the PGA Tour mentioned in an announcement. “We will evaluate the impact rangefinders have on the competition at the PGA of America’s championships in 2021 and will then review the matter with our player directors and the Player Advisory Council.”

Where every person do agree in regards to the rangefinders – which additionally will likely be allowed within the PGA of America’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship – is that point will not be wasted when gamers hit wayward photographs, which might be frequent on the windswept grounds of the Ocean Course.

“I have a hard time seeing it speed things up, unless you get it way offline or you’re out of contention,” Jordan Spieth mentioned. “We’ll plan on using it, but I think it will be more confirmation than anything. It’s not going to be we just step up, shoot it, and go. I mean, these pins get tucked and the wind’s blowing and you got to figure out a few more things than just the number to the hole.”

Added Bryson DeChambeau, the PGA Tour’s longest hitter: “It’s going to help me for when I hit it offline. We’re not going to have to go to a sprinkler head and walk 40, 50 yards away from a place to find a number.”

But right here’s the place it should gradual up play, in accordance to gamers and caddies. How lengthy will it take to pull the set off if the participant shoots one quantity and the caddie walks off a distinct quantity. They’d seemingly repeat the method. Then if there nonetheless is disagreement, the 2 would talk about how to go ahead.

“I don’t know of one caddie who was consulted by the PGA of America, and that’s frustrating,” Tesori mentioned. “We’d have stressed that normally, I’m getting a lot of info: the yardage to the front number, the carry number, left and right numbers, the distance behind the pin. And we’re talking about the wind and roll out. Of all the info, the last number we get is to the pin.

“If you shoot a rangefinder from 150 it will say 150 one time and 149 another and then 151. If you’re two yards off that can mean difference between 9-iron and pitching wedge. And if our numbers are different, we’ll redo all the numbers and if we’re still split, we’ll figure out what to do and away we go.

“As professionals, we have never done this before. It will be another part of the process and that will take time.”

World No. 2 and 2017 PGA champion Justin Thomas mentioned he doesn’t just like the PGA of America’s determination for a lot of causes however one specifically.

“I think it takes away an advantage of having a good caddie that maybe goes out there and does the work beforehand as opposed to someone, especially now between the yardage books, the greens books and range finders, you technically don’t even really need to see the place or play a practice round,” Thomas mentioned. “You can go out there and know exactly what the green does, you know exactly what certain things are on certain angles because you can just shoot it with the range finder.

“I made my stance on it pretty clear. I don’t really like them.”


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