Rangefinders make major debut at PGA Championship
Rangefinders are set to make their big PGA championship debut next week to get the pace of the game up, even if some top golfers fear it won't work or will slow down instead.
The Golf Tech range finders that use lasers or GPS systems were approved last February for majors approved by the PGA of America, but are still banned for U.S. PGA Tour rounds.
"We're always interested in methods that can help improve the flow of the game during our championships," said Jim Richerson, president of PGA of America.
World number two Justin Thomas, the 2017 PGA Championship winner, doubts this will make a big difference.
"I don't think it's going to increase the pace of the game," said Thomas. "Unless you hit another hole or some crazy angle that would take you a long time to get a meter."
American compatriot Webb Simpson, the 2012 US Open champion, says many players will continue to have caddies covering distances in relation to fixed-position landmarks like sprinkler heads.
"I don't think it'll really make a difference," said the ninth-placed Simpson.
"It won't speed up the game because everyone I know and have spoken to still has front numbers and the rangefinder. You can't always get the exact front number."
"So the player is probably going to shoot the pin, the caddy is walking away from the number because I want what's up front, what's the pin."
The reigning US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau will not check this in routine situations.
"It will help me if I take it offline. We don't have to go to a sprinkler head and walk 40, 50 meters away," he said.
"If the players use it in a way that they can speed up the game, that's great. If they keep checking it again, it can slow the game down a bit that I'm not a fan of at all."
Players are prohibited from using a range finder tilt feature to measure changes in altitude, and cannot use range finders to assess wind speeds or obtain recommended club selection.
Thomas sees rangefinders as a great caddy.
"I don't think we're going to use them," he said. "I don't really like her. I think there is the benefit of having a good caddy who can go out there and do the job beforehand.
"Kiawah Island is not a course where the greens are going to be really soft and all you see is pin, hit pin. You still need to get all of this information, but then it's just going to add one more element that is about laps more time for shooting with the rangefinder.
"I'm enjoying this process ... but if there was an opportunity where I met him offline, then I could take advantage of it."
Some players have used them in training rounds and in the amateur ranks, including defending champion Collin Morikawa.
"In college, I pulled out a rangefinder for every shot I hit," said Morikawa.
“It will definitely give you exact numbers, but so many caddies are used to running away and adding their numbers. Will guys do both? I could definitely see that.
"Will some people want to stay the way they are and not change anything? Absolutely. It's a routine. We're so used to it."
- 'I won't know until we try' -
Morikawa, who won his first major title at Harding Park in San Francisco last August, sees the move as helping certain players pick up the pace.
"Are you going to see the pace of play improve by 10 or 15 minutes? I don't think so. But will it help certain players get faster? I think it will be huge in that sense," said Morikawa.
"It will be interesting to test it at a big championship. Will it solve anything? We won't know until we try."
Australian Jason Day, 2015 PGA winner, has no plans to use rangefinders.
"I don't mind the idea. Golf is always evolving and changing," said Day. "It will be interesting to see how many people will do it. I won't do it."
The Mexican Abraham Ancer sees the devices help after sad shots outside the target.
"It will be nice when you are far away," he said. "It'll be very handy there. But if you're on a tea box I have a feeling everyone will be using it, but double-check too, so I don't know if it'll help that much (Tempo)." ""
js / rcw
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