Are Rangefinders Legal In Golf Tournaments? (PGA, LIV, High School, etc…

Are Rangefinders Legal in Golf Tournaments Is Answered by Our Team of Golf Coaches in The Los Angeles Area

As the leader of the golf coach team at Tell Me More Golf, with over 50 years of golf experience, I’m going to take a look at the legality of rangefinders. 

In the modern golfing climate, more and more players are turning to rangefinders to get accurate distances before hitting shots and why not. However, it’s not always as simple as that when it comes to competitive golf. 

So, let’s get into it and look at whether rangefinders are legal in golf tournaments. 

Professional golfers playing on the PGA Tour cannot use rangefinders to calculate the distance of their shots. The use of any distance-measuring devices, such as a rangefinder, is prohibited during competitive play on the PGA Tour. This is according to the PGA of America. 

However, during practice rounds before the tournament begins, players may use rangefinders.

This might seem a little counter-productive, but that’s the way it is. 

There is nothing stopping a tour pro from using a rangefinder during practice rounds, but once the tournament begins, they cannot by law. A breach of this law would result in disqualification from the tournament as a minimum punishment. 

On the PGA Tour, players often carry yardage books, which can be handy when it comes to knowing how much ground they have between themselves and the hole. Players are also accompanied by their caddies, who have obtained distance information relating to each hole, which can help players to calculate their approach manually prior to hitting a shot. 

The PGA Championship is one of golf’s four majors, which are often thought of as independent from standard PGA Tour play, though that’s not strictly true.

Technically, it is still a PGA Tour tournament, a tournament in which rangefinders can be used. As things stand, the PGA Championship is the exemption to the rule. 

In 2022, players were allowed to use rangefinders at the PGA Championship in order to help with the pace of play, but they were only permitted to use them to measure the actual distance. They were not allowed to use them to gain measurements that factor in any form of slope. 

Away from the PGA Tour, the much talked about LIV Tour, which has made a real splash in the world of professional golf, made headlines not that long ago by allowing the use of rangefinders at a tournament in Miami. 


Can You Use A Rangefinder With Slope In a Golf Tournament?

The short answer here is no. You cannot use a rangefinder with slope in a golf tournament. 

This may seem confusing. Surely you should either be able to use a rangefinder or not. Perhaps, but the fact is that you are allowed to use a golf rangefinder during competitive play but only to measure the actual distance between two points. 

During golf tournaments, players are not allowed to use rangefinders or any other piece of golfing equipment to calculate the true distance when playing on a slope. This means that the slope feature on rangefinders must be turned off. 


High school golf in the US is governed by the rules laid out by the United States Golf Association, which is generally responsible for producing the laws of the game within the US. 

This means that high school golfers must obey the rules of the game according to the USGA, who state that rangefinders are permitted, but only at certain times. 

For starters, high school golfers are prohibited from using rangefinders in major competitions.

High school golfers can use rangefinders when practicing and during practice rounds prior to competitive play. 

During official high-school tournament play, the use of rangefinders is prohibited. Players can look at pre-published material such as course guides and distance information on the course but they cannot use rangefinders to give themselves an accurate update of their shot distances. Doing so can end in disqualification from the competition and perhaps even further punishment. 

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Can you use rangefinders in USGA events?

The USGA allows golfers to use devices that measure distances as long as they do not obtain any information that is prohibited.

Essentially what this means is that they can access the actual distance between two points via an instrument such as a rangefinder, whilst they can view pre-published information regarding the playing of a hole, but they cannot use a rangefinder to access effective playing distance information, doing so would be a breach of the rules. 

Why are rangefinders allowed at the PGA tournament?

The PGA Championship is the only major in golf that allows rangefinders. Why? Well, the measuring devices were approved in an effort to speed up play. 

A rangefinder is only tournament legal if it is being used to calculate the actual distance between two points. It is prohibited to use a laser rangefinder to calculate the true distance when factoring in a slope. Measuring devices cannot be used for anything else during competitive play, even if they are capable of doing so.


Patrick Corley Tell Me More Golf Instructor and Coach
Patrick Corley
From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
Our golf instructor team brings it all to you, so enjoy!

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