If you're watching the TaylorMade Driving Relief event at Seminole Golf Club, you may have noticed that the four players -- Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff -- are using laser rangefinders, also called distance-measuring devices, to measure how far they are from the hole.
Why are the players using lasers?
The main reason is that the players do not have caddies because of the conditions set forth by the Centers for Disease Control, the state of Florida and Palm Beach County, which require operating golf courses to respect social distancing and other guidelines to prevent possible viral spread. One of the rules of operation in Palm Beach County is that players must carry, push or ride with their own bags. Caddies are not allowed at this time.
This is just one example of a number of safety precautions the PGA Tour is taking as event organizer to follow local laws and guidelines, as well setting a good example for the golf world that the sport can be played safely.
As a result, the players are measuring distances using laser rangefinders. The rangefinders only measure the distance and are not allowed to calculate true distance based on slope, wind or other data that could be computed by the device.
Under the Rules of Golf, players are able to use laser rangefinders and GPS units in competition, provided they only provide pure distance to the hole.
Shared surfaces on the golf course have been removed, like bunker rakes. No one will be handling them, even rules officials. Additional shared surfaces that are being removed from golf courses nationwide include ball washers, benches and water coolers.
Players will not be handling the flagsticks during the round, only allowing rules officials to do that. Before the round, all cups, flags and flagsticks were disinfected. Pool noodles are expected to be used in the cup to prevent the ball from going all the way to the bottom of the hole.
The goal in removing these surfaces is to eliminate the possibility of virus transmission when an infected person touches such a surface and unwittingly transmits it to an uninfected person who touches that same surface and then ingests the virus.