Major Change: Use of Distance-Measuring DevicesGolf's New Rules

New Rule: The previous default position in the Rules is reversed:

  • Rule 4.3 now allows players to use DMDs to measure distance.
  • But a Committee may adopt a Local Rule prohibiting such use of DMDs.

Reasons for Change:

Allowing DMD use is consistent with the principles of the game:

  • Figuring out the distance to the hole or to another location on the course is not one of the decisions that the Rules expect players to make using only their own skill and judgment or only with a caddie’s advice.
  • Distance is public information a player may get from anyone; and on most courses, this information is found on sprinkler heads, markers, posts, etc.

DMD use has become widespread in the years since they were introduced, and they are allowed at most clubs throughout the world and in most amateur competitions, including (since 2014) at USGA and R&A amateur championships.

Reversing the default position helps avoid the confusion that sometimes existed previously when clubs or players did not realize that DMD use required adoption of a Local Rule.

At the same time, Committees that are not comfortable with allowing use of electronic devices such as DMDs on their course generally or during a particular competition may still prohibit their use.