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Home  /  Rangefinders: Are They Legal?

Rangefinders: Are They Legal?

Submitted by Eileen on Sun, 05/14/2006 – 09:00

There’s been a flurry of interest in rangefinders and GPS devices that many golfers are using to determine distances. We were carrying the Bushnell Pinseeker Rangefinder and a few years ago we carried the SkyGolf SkyCaddie, which at the time was a Palm Vx with special software. The Palm version of the Sky Caddie was pricey and too complicated. It was also so new that most people couldn’t see how they’d use it.

Today, customers are asking about the Bushnell and continue to gasp at the price (over $400). Charlie has warned them this device may not be legal if it can provide slope measures, which is probably the primary reason to buy this model over something cheaper.

The confusion over the legality of the Pinseeker is absurd. It really does matter where you play and who’s running the event. After reading 1000 words on the subject in GolfWeek and talking to the pro at the local municipal course, if someone asks me if the Pinseeker is legal all I can say is “maybe—but you better ask before you play.”

I know of at least two customers using the Pinseeker and the feedback is this product is not intuitive, takes some practice to use correctly and is not workable if you can’t keep it steady. However, if you can get over those hurdles it does an excellent job of measuring distance and slope.

Distance measuring devices have limited use in Illinois (Chicago District golf Association allows rangefinders in one-day flighted events where one-ball rule is not in effect). In Indiana,Wisconsin and Michigan there is unlimited use.

For a list of the states and related golf organizations regarding rangefinders, see the article in Golfweek, Rangefinders: A national debate: http://www.golfweek.com/othernews/320329668135004.php

• Do rangefinders and GPS devices speed up play?

• Is the pressure to legalize them coming from players or the manufacturers?

• Do they provide an unfair advantage to someone who can afford to buy one where affordability is clearly a factor in their use?

• Will they increase the number of rounds played on those courses that replace or retrofit the flagsticks to accommodate these devices?

Tournament officials are asking these questions and maybe the answers are important. We don’t sell enough to have an opinion, but if the average player would likely play more golf or have more fun playing golf using a rangefinder, let him (or her) have it.

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