Are Rangefinder Devices Legal For Tournament Play?

Are Rangefinder Devices Legal For Tournament Play?

Are Rangefinder Devices Legal For Tournament Play? The quick answer is yes, but there’s some info you need to know.

Rangefinder devices have exploded in popularity over the past year. You’ll rarely see a golfer now without a laser rangefinder or GPS watch.

For a long time electronics were not allowed for use during any competition play. Then some devices were used under certain conditions.

But as innovation has improved and more technology became available, the rules have become more and more lenient.

Are Rangefinders Legal in Golf?

So, Yes you can use rangefinder devices for competition play. Devices like laser rangefinders, golf GPS watches, golf GPS devices, even smartphone apps.

But there’s a catch. Not all features are 100% legal for tournament play.

Are Rangefinder Devices Legal For Tournament Play?
Credit: Nikon Golf

Here’s a breakdown of what is NOT allowed during tournament play: 

  • Slope Reading – This gives you the degree of elevation of the shot you are playing and will show you the actual yardage and ‘plays like yardage’.
  • Weather conditions such as wind speed. You are permitted to check for thunder storms, etc.
  • Contact a coach/trainer during a round.
  • Review swing analysis software during play – For example, video swing analysis, swing path technology.
  • Play’s Like or Club Suggestions Features – A lot of devices now collect your swing data and will know how far you hit your golf shots. GPS devices can give you club suggestions based on your swing history. Devices such as rangefinders give you ‘Plays Like’ information.

Now, this is where people get a little confused. Golfers got worried that if their rangefinder device had any of these features that they could not use it during competition play.

Don’t worry, you can use your rangefinder devices in tournament play once you can disable these features. Most manufactures have made this possible.

For example on the laser rangefinders that have the Slope , you are able to enable and disable the Slope.

A rangefinder with slope is legal to use once it can be disables during competition play.

I did a review on some of the Best Rangefinders With Slope you can find HERE.

Still a Little Confused? This Is What You Can Do

are golf GPS devices legal
  • Measure yardages to greens, hazards, trees, etc.
  • Share yardage information with playing partners
  • Record round information such as scores, distances and related info using your device.
  • Use your device for access calls, texts and notification
  • Check the weather i.e Rain and incoming storms (not wind speed)

What Does The USGA Have To Say?

Are Rangefinder Devices Legal For Tournament Play?

are golf GPS devices legal

The local rule allows the use of distance measuring devices such as GPS devices, laser rangefinders and smartphone apps.

However if your distance measuring device measures Slope, wind speed, play’s like features, these features must be disabled during competition play.  If you cannot disable such features you CANNOT use the device during competition play.

Are GPS Watches Legal in Golf?

Yes, Golf GPS Watches are legal to use golfing as long as you don’t use the the features mentioned above. These include slope, plays like, wind information and of course swing metrics.

The Garmin S60 for example can offer golfers so many premium features that are not legal to use in golf competitions. These features can be used practicing on the course but not while playing competition.

Can I Use A Rangefinder App I Downloaded On My Smartphone?

Yes. Devices such as phones or tablets that have downloaded golf apps are allowed for competition use.  

For a full breakdown of your Golf Rangefinder options you can check my article here. I go into detail on each type of rangefinder highlighting the pros and cons of each.


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