Starting with the 2021 PGA Championship, the PGA of America will allow competitors to use distance-measuring devices, including laser rangefinders, in all of their major sanctioned tournaments.
This new rule extends to the KPMG Women's PGA Championship and the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
“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, in announcing the news. “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.”
Players and caddies competing in these tournaments will be required to use distance-measuring devices in compliance with Rule 4.3a of the Rules of Golf, which dictates the usage of these devices in competition. These devices can give information on distance and direction, but they cannot measure elevation changes or interpret distance and direction information in a way that makes recommendations on how to play a hole given a line or lie.
This change is consistent with updates to the Rules of Golf. It will be interesting to see if allowing distance-measuring devices speeds up play, as has long been hypothesized. However, players and caddies alike over the years have said using these devices in competition will not lead to dramatic changes in round times because this work can be done fairly quickly in most situations.