(Below is a Press release published by the PGA on the 17th January 2008 regarding the use of distance measuring devices in competitions)
The PGA is set to become a trailblazer in tournament golf after rubber-stamping the use of electronic rangefinders in all its events including national championships.
The radical move by The Professional Golfers' Association could pave the way to a golfing revolution across the world as leading tours attempt to tackle the bugbear of slow play which frequently sees rounds stretch well past the five-and-a-half-hour mark.
Among the high profile PGA tournaments where rangefinders will be allowed are the Irish PGA Championship, won last year by defending Open champion Padraig Harrington, the Scottish PGA Championship and the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship.
Approval for use of all distance measuring devices was agreed at the PGA's executive committee meeting today (Tuesday, January 15) with other leading golf bodies expected to monitor closely the success of the scheme.
The decision to give the green light to rangefinders followed a successful trial at last year's PGA Fourball Championship with handheld SkyCaddies (the PGA's official rangefinder). More than 100 of the finalists carried them with 55 of 78 pros quizzed responding positively with many citing how their use sped up yardage calculations and the decision making process.
They have also been used with a wide degree of success on the PGA Europro Tour and PGA chief executive Sandy Jones welcomed the decision.
"I'm aware a number of traditionalists might well be appalled by this decision but the evidence suggests that using rangefinders really helps improve pace of play so it is difficult to see why such a decision should be detrimental to the game," he said.
"Slow play in professional and amateur golf has increasingly become an issue and we've taken the decision to embrace technology in a bid to resolve this problem and increase enjoyment of the game.
"The single biggest advantage of rangefinders is that you can take an accurate yardage from any point on the golf course - whether you're ideally placed in the middle of the fairway or stuck in trouble in the trees.
"As we see slow play is often caused by golfers straying into trouble and the caddie or player then having to pace off the yardages. With rangefinders it saves all the fiddling about and consultation of the yardage book, hence speeding up play."
Jackie Hitchcock, managing director of SkyCaddie UK, the PGA's official rangefinder, which has mapped out more than 17,000 golf courses and is on track to have 90% of the world's courses mapped by the end of 2008, believes the PGA's backing of rangefinders can lead the way in the sport.
"We're delighted the PGA has taken this decision as it further validates that our technology gives golfers - regardless of skill level - instant access to valuable information they need to play at the highest level," she said.
"Professional golfers on Tour never play competitively without this type of information because they have caddies and the courses are marked with reference points for their benefit. Now recreational golfers can have the same information without the wasting time which slows the game.
"Our mission is to grow the game of golf by using technology in a responsible way to improve pace of play, enhance enjoyment of the game, and ultimately increase participation without compromising the traditions of the game."
"To see the PGA and its professionals using them can only help others to follow suit," she added.
"This is the start of a whole new era for both amateur and professional golfers.
"Since the R&A allowed rangefinders to be at the discretion of local rules, more and more people have jumped on board.
"We've seen more and more courses using rangefinders in competitions and general play and that's fantastic."
Course details are stored on a light-weight hand-held unit, all of which come with ‘IntelliGreenTM' as standard, which allows players to view all aspects of the green from any position.