Are Golf Rangefinders With Slope Legal?


A rangefinder can be really helpful while playing golf. If you’re thinking of participating in a golf competition, one of the few questions that hit your mind is, are golf rangefinders with slope legal?

Yes, golf rangefinders with slope are legal, but there’s more you need to know about them before going into a competition. Rangefinders have been growing in popularity. You’ll rarely see a professional golfer without one these days.

In thing blog post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the legality of rangefinders.

Let’s dive in.

What are Rangefinders with Slope?

Rangefinders are devices that measure the distance to a particular target. It does that by magnifying the target and shooting a laser beam towards it. For instance, while playing golf, rangefinders are often used to measure the distance to the flagstick. A rangefinder with slope adjusts the distance for any elevations on the golf course.

Are Golf Rangefinders with Slope Legal?

The short answer is, yes golf rangefinders with slope are typically legal. Not only a rangefinder, but other helpful devices like golf GPS devices and smartphone apps are also allowed, but there’s a catch.

golf rangefinder into hand of a female golfer

If you’re using a rangefinder with slope for a tournament, you might not be able to use it. Here’s what you’re not allowed to do with a rangefinder in a tournament play:

  • Slope reading: The degree of elevation of the shot
  • Weather conditions: Wind speeds are not allowed, but you can check for thunderstorms and conditions like that
  • Contact a coach
  • Play’s Like suggestions: Rangefinder devices can give you suggestions based on your swing history

Now, although these features are not allowed in tournament play, it doesn’t mean you can’t use a rangefinder with slope. Just disable these features and you’ll be fine. The good thing is most rangefinders come with that option.

The problem arises when you can’t disable these features on your rangefinder. If that’s the case, you might not be allowed to use your rangefinder at all.

That said, you can always double-check with the tournament management as to which features you can use on your rangefinders. The bottom line is golf rangefinders with slope are legal if you disable certain features that aren’t allowed.

Are GPS Watches Legal?

Yes, GPS watches are legal in golf competitions as long as the features discussed above are disabled. These include slope or elevation measurement, plays like information, wind information, and swing metrics.

Should You Get a rangefinder with Slope?

Not all rangefinders come with the slope feature. A majority of them don’t have this particular feature, which begs the question: Is a rangefinder with slope really necessary? Should you be buying a rangefinder with the slope feature?

There are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself before deciding whether you need the slope or elevation feature in your rangefinder.

  • Do you play in competitions?
  • Do you play golf on a highly uneven golf course?
  • Do you submit your scores to Golf Handicap & Information Network (GHIN)?

If you are going to play golf in a competition or submit your score to GHIN, you can’t use a rangefinder with slope, or at least, the slope feature. If your rangefinder comes with a slope feature, just disable it.

How Does Rangefinder with Slope Help?

A rangefinder with slope calculates the slope-adjusted distances based on the angle it’s held while getting a reading on a flag. It compensates for the changes in gradient and adjusts the distance to the flag accordingly. Moreover, the accuracy of the slope on the rangefinder depends on the type of rangefinder you are using, its settings, and your level of skill.

Should You Buy a Rangefinder?

Well, this largely depends on your needs, expertise, and golf course. If you play on a fairly flat golf course, there’s no need to buy a rangefinder. But, if you’re playing on a ground with a lot of elevation variations, a rangefinder with slope is a nice gadget to have.

How Much Does Slope Affect the Distance in Golf?

The slope of the green affects the distance a golf ball rolls. The steeper the slope, the more distance it will roll. For example, if you have a golf ball and your putt is on a downhill slope of 10% you will need to pitch the ball less (drop it shorter) than if the slope was 0%.


What’s Allowed and What’s Not?

The USGA allows golfers to use two types of devices:

  • Standalone devices like a rangefinder
  • Multifunctional devices like tablets and phones

Here’s a list of things you’re allowed to do as a professional golfer:

  • Measuring distances to targets
  • Sharing GPS device
  • Checking email, weather, and texts on your phone
  • Accessing record swings
  • Measuring the distances of shots
  • Scorecard, calendar, and of course, time

Here’s what you’re not allowed:

  • Swing measuring
  • Measuring distances adjusted for slopes
  • Club suggestion devices
  • Communicating with swing coaches during a round
  • Recording and reviewing videos during a round
  • Actively measuring the wind speed using a device

It’s important to keep in mind that all these rules and restrictions are only for pro golfers that take part in any type of competition or tournament.

No such restrictions are applied to other golfers that are playing golf for fun or as a sport. So, if you’re in it for fun, you have nothing to think about and can use any type of device or gadget you think can help you. However, keep in mind that if you’re thinking of competing on the professional level, using prohibited devices or features could make you less competent.

Final Thoughts

So, are golf rangefinders with slope legal? Yes, and no. Golf rangefinders with slope are legal when you don’t use the slope feature and can deactivate it.

However, if you have a rangefinder with the slope features that can’t be deactivated, you can’t use it on the golf course, in a competition or in a tournament.

If you’re playing for fun, no such restriction applies to you. But, keep in mind that the more you rely on your own senses and skills, the better you’ll get at the sport. And, that can help you compete with the pros eventually.

Sourav Biswas

I love to play golf. I also enjoy writing about my golf experience and sharing my thoughts with you. I am a writer and editor who also publishes work on Amazon & Medium. I write books, articles, and short stories.

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