If you're watching the PGA Championship event at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course, you may have noticed that some of the players are using laser rangefinders, also called distance-measuring devices, to measure how far they are from the hole.
Why are the players using lasers?
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.
The PGA of America decided, then, to allow the 156 professional golfers in their championship to use laser rangefinders during the championship itself.
As a result, the players are allow to be 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.
The goal in allowing laser rangefinders is to be consistent with the Rules of Golf and somewhat promote that golf can be fun and not a complete grind. However, most professionals seem to feel more comfortable using their traditional methods of measuring distance to the hole, combining caddie knowledge, their yardage book, distance markers on the course and math to figure out everything.
Week to week on the PGA Tour, players are not allowed to use laser rangefinders during tournament rounds, but they are able to use them to scout the course during practice rounds.