The R&A allows distance measuring devices in its amateur events in 2014
The R&A’s Championship Committee has decided that it will allow the use of distance measuring devices (DMDs) in R&A amateur events in 2014.
DMD’s have been covered by an optional Local Rule, which has been available under the Rules of Golf since 2006 (see Note to Rule 14-3 of the Rules of Golf), and the Championship Committee will take up this option for 2014.
This Local Rule will be introduced for The R&A’s amateur events only. It will not be introduced for The Open Championship or any qualifying event for The Open Championship.
The Championship Committee would like to emphasise that it has taken this decision for R&A events but is not making this a recommendation for other championship organisers to follow. It remains a matter for individual Committees and Clubs to decide whether or not they want to allow the use of such devices in their competitions.
Now, will the PGA Tour and USGA follow suit?
It doesn't, however, have a simple answer.
Sources familiar with conversations among USGA championship committee members suggest the governing body is moving toward making a similar decision, potentially as soon as next week's USGA Annual Meeting at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort. There are still some within the association, though, who would prefer to study the issue further before following the R&A.
The official position out of Far Hills, N.J., is that the matter is something "the USGA continues to study and consider."
Last September, the USGA experimented with the use of DMDs at the Women's State Team Championship to see if players using range finders could help improve pace of play, a priority inside the USGA. No official data was released, but a USGA source say the results from the championship helped the case to allow their uses at more events.
If the USGA did give the green light for their use at amateur events, it would do so in a similar fashion to the R&A: approve the adoption of a local rule for its championships that has been allowed under the Rules of Golf (14-3) since 2006. Devices that measure and gauge distance are the only ones allowed by the local rule.
This local-rule provision has enabled individual tournaments and associations to move forward with using the devices. Various college events have done so in recent years. Starting last year, the American Junior Golf Association agreed to allow them for all of its competitions.
Last December, the Ladies Golf Union approved their use for its amateur championships and the Home International championship starting in 2014, but not for use in the Ricoh Women's British Open.
The R&A specified that the local rule would not be used in its Open championships or in any qualifying for them. Likewise, the USGA is not considering allowing DMDs at the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open or U.S. Senior Open. At those events, the yardage book will remain mightier than the range finder.