MAY - 2009


Doesn't it seem like every group you play with now has someone that either has a laser measuring device or a hand held GPS unit? Have you ever wondered why during tournaments on TV that these devices are never used? It's because under The Rules of Golf they are considered an artificial aid. Rule 14-3 explains the use of artificial devices during a stipulated round with the Note permitting the Committee to instill a Local Rule allowing the use of electronic devices to measure distance only. Some newer GPS and lasers measure elevation and wind changes and are outside the exception allowing their use (see Decision 14-3/0.5).

14-3. Artificial Devices and Unusual Equipment

The United States Golf Association (USGA) reserves the right, at any time, to change the Rules relating to artificial devices, unusual equipment and the unusual use of equipment, and make or change the interpretations relating to these Rules.

A player in doubt as to whether use of an item would constitute a breach of Rule 14-3 should consult the USGA.

Except as provided in the Rules, during a stipulated round the player must not use any artificial device or unusual equipment, or use any equipment in an unusual manner:

a. That might assist him in making a stroke or in his play; or

b. For the purpose of gauging or measuring distance or conditions that might affect his play; or

c. That might assist him in gripping the club, except that:

(i) plain gloves may be worn;

(ii) resin, powder and drying or moisturizing agents may be used; and

(iii) a towel or handkerchief may be wrapped around the grip.


1. A player is not in breach of this Rule if (a) the equipment or device is designed for or has the effect of alleviating a medical condition, (b) the player has a legitimate medical reason to use the equipment or device, and (c) the Committee is satisfied that its use does not give the player any undue advantage over other players.

2. A player is not in breach of this Rule if he uses equipment in a traditionally accepted manner.

PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE 14-3:Disqualification.

Note: The Committee may make a Local Rule allowing players to use devices that measure or gauge distance only. Section I

14-3/0.5 Local Rule Permitting Use of Distance-Measuring Device

Q. May a Committee, by Local Rule, permit the use of distance-measuring devices?

A. Yes. A Committee may establish a Local Rule allowing players to use devices that measure or gauge distance only (see the Note to Rule 14-3). However, the use of a distance-measuring device that is designed to gauge or measure other conditions that might affect a player's play (e.g., gradient, wind speed, temperature, etc.) is not permitted regardless of whether such an additional function is used.

In the absence of such a Local Rule, the use of a distance-measuring device would be contrary to Rule 14-3. (Revised)

Derek Duesler