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PGA Championship 2024: The unique, one-week rule that will be in play at Valhalla

May 13, 2024
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David Cannon

LOUISVILLE—This week the pros will get a chance to look like us.

For the fourth consecutive year the PGA of America is allowing competitors to use rangefinders at the PGA Championship. Rangerfinders, also known as distance measuring devices, aren’t allowed on the PGA Tour or the other three major championships in men’s professional golf during tournament days. (Caddies can use them during practice rounds.)

However, the PGA of America gave them the greenlight in 2021 as a way to improve pace of play.

“We’re always interested in methods that may help improve the flow of play during our championships,” said Jim Richerson, president of the PGA of America, at the time. “The use of distance-measuring devices is already common within the game and is now a part of the Rules of Golf. Players and caddies have long used them during practice rounds to gather relevant yardages.”

The rule change was in part facilitated by the USGA and R&A when the governing bodies modernized the Rules of Golf in 2019, when the devices were declared legal, albeit with qualifications. As the rule states, a “golf course or the Committee in charge of a competition does have the option to prohibit the use of distance-measuring devices by Local Rule.” The USGA allows for rangefinders in some of their amateur events as long as the slope function is disabled. This has sometimes led to confusion; it was at last year’s U.S. Women’s Open that rookie Natthakritta Vongtaveelap was disqualified when her caddie used a rangefinder multiple times during the first round at Pebble Beach.

The PGA of America also extends the rangefinder rule to its Women’s PGA and Senior PGA events. While the rule change was a bit of a hot-button topic in 2021 (a simpler time in golf), the usage of rangefinders is mostly welcomed by the field, so don't be surprised if this one-off PGA rule becomes the norm in the future.