Can the LPGA Use Rangefinders?


Here’s one of the most common questions that get asked in the golfing community: Can the LPGA use rangefinders?

The answer is yes, LPGA can use rangefinders, but there are conditions. See, professional golfers can use rangefinders to measure the distance from point A to point B. But, features like slope aren’t allowed in tournaments. If your rangefinder has those features, just disable them and you’ll be good.

But, is that all you need to know about the use of rangefinders in LPGA? Not really.

Let’s address a few related questions.

What is a Rangefinder and How Does It Work?

A rangefinder is a device that is used to measure the distance to an object or target. Generally, it can be used for golfing, hunting, surveying, and other purposes. It’s a handy little device for golfers because it helps them understand how far they need to hit the golf ball.

But, how do they work? Rangefinders work by sending out a laser beam and then measuring how long it takes for the beam to return back to the device. The time is then converted to distance.

About LPGA’s Decision to Use Rangefinders?

The LPGA never had a formal policy in place for the use of rangefinders in golf until recently. The LPGA has adopted a new rule that would allow players to use rangefinders during tournament play. This decision was made because of the availability of improved technology and its potential to improve accuracy and consistency. 

Players can now easily know the distance from their position to the target before taking a shot thanks to this handy little portable device.

However, keep in mind that not all types of rangefinders are allowed in a competition or tournament. There are a few features on rangefinders that could give you an unfair advantage over your competitors, which is why the organization limits the number of features you can use.

Can You Use Rangefinders in Tournaments?

Yes, you can use rangefinders in tournaments or competitions. It’s completely legal to use a rangefinder to measure the distance from one point to another on a professional golf course.

However, keep in mind that there can be a few advanced features that you’re not allowed to use in tournaments. One prominent one is the slope or elevation-adjusted distance.

Can PGA Players Use GPS Watches?

Yes, PGA players can use GPS watches as long as they don’t have specific features like:

  • Slope
  • Wind information
  • Plays like information
  • Swing metrics

But, if you have a GPS watch with all those features, you can just disable them and continue using other ones. However, if they can’t be disabled, you won’t be allowed to use the gadget.

How Do PGA Players Know Yardage?

Yardage is basically the distance a golf ball travels. PGA golf players need to know how long they need to hit the ball. Professional golfers used to keep a yardage book with them all the time and consult it before taking every shot.

Here’s what a yardage book shows:

  • Yardages to various targets
  • Points of elevation
  • Closeup of the green with contours

What is in a Pro Golfers Yardage Book?

PGA Tour yardage books don’t only show yardages from one point on a golf course to another. They also include:

  • Slopes
  • Detailed topographical features
  • Suggested putting lines

A yardage book can help golfers measure distances from their own location and the target. With gadgets like rangefinders, the use of yardage books isn’t as popular as it used to be. Moreover, there are multiple advanced features that can be used by golfers in a rangefinder these days.

Is it Legal to Use Rangefinder in PGA?

Yes, rangefinders are legal and can be used in PGA. As discussed before, you can now use rangefinders to measure plain distances to your targets. However, features like slope-adjusted distance measurement aren’t allowed.

What are the Types of Rangefinders?

There are two types of golf rangefinders available on the market: laser and GPS. Laser rangefinders use a laser beam that bounces off objects, while GPS rangefinders use satellite signals. The way you decide which one you want depends on your needs and preferences.

Are GPS Rangefinders Legal?

The United States Golf Association has permitted the use of golf rangefinders in professional tournaments since 2006. The only thing that a golfer should consider is which features they need to disable before entering a competition. So, it doesn’t matter if your golf rangefinder works on GPS technology or the laser one, it shouldn’t have the forbidden features.  

Why are Rangefinders Allowed at Tournaments?

Professional golfers have been using yardage books to measure the distances to their targets during tournaments. But, as technology has advanced, they don’t have to carry a yardage book anymore. They can use a portable, easy-to-handle rangefinder to measure accurate distances to their targets.

Rangefinders can potentially save a lot of time for the management as well as the players. They speed up the play, allowing golf associations to hold more competitions in a relatively less amount of time.

Can College Golfers Use Rangefinders?

According to the NCAA, which regulates college golf and follows USGA rules, college golfers are allowed to use rangefinders, but to a limited extent.

So, now, college golfers don’t have to use yard markers and can know the yardage instantly. However, they still can’t use a rangefinder for advanced features, for instance, to find the direction of the wind.

Should You Use a Rangefinder During Practice?

One of the most relevant questions about the use of advanced rangefinders is whether should you be using this gadget during practice.

Rangefinders are equipped with features that can help you improve your score on the practicing field. But, the problem is most of these features are banned in competitive golfing.

So, let’s say you use the slope feature while practicing. But since it’s not allowed in competitions, you’ll have to adjust your strategy, which can negatively impact your game.

So, if you want to compete on the professional level, it’s better to keep things legal during practice play as well.

Final Thoughts

So, can the LPGA use rangefinders? Yes, rangefinders are a recent phenomenon, and professional golfers are using them for accurate distance readings to their targets. Keep in mind that there are certain features in more advanced rangefinders that a golfer isn’t allowed to use in tournaments.

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.

Recent Posts