By NEIL H. DEVLIN
Special to woodypaige.com
Maybe the adults can learn from the kids.
On the heels of The Masters, the greatest golf tournament on earth, at Augusta National, the greatest golf course on earth, news comes that distance-measuring devices soon will make their way onto assorted professional golf tours.
Previously, they had only trickled into scholastic and collegiate play – after, of course, weekday and weekend duffers — but the PGA Tour recently announced it would permit rangefinders at four tournaments each on the Web.com Tour, Mackenzie Tour and PGA Tour Latinoamerica for this summer, according to the Golf Channel.
Thankfully, this isn’t about triple-doubles, declaring for the draft or insisting how great spring football reallyis.
No, this is about technology entering a traditional, proud game with stringent rules even experts have trouble implementing … and believing.
Gotta come clean here – at first, I despised rangefinders because I considered them a form of cheating. Virtually every course created minimally is marked at 200, 150 and 100 yards from the center of the greens, so, I thought, figuring out how much more you had to go on a hole wasn’t that tough. And there are countless others that elaborately contain yardage from the pin on just about every sprinkler head in the fairway within sight of the green.
But two things changed my mind. First, the superintendent at my home course insisted that if I got one, my game was at the point that I was to easily drop three or four strokes. And, second, I’ve seen high-school kids use them, asked about them and they were endorsed.
It wasn’t that long ago that prep golf coaches felt left out in terms of being able to coach their kids. The couldn’t “interfere” while a match was happening, but that was rectified.
And I’m told permitting rangefinders gives additional, practical information to players who wish to excel, particularly on young people’s levels.
So why not incorporate technology to the pros? We see various graphics on television with every break and slope possible on greens, computer lines to where to land your drives, etc.
So why can’t Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler and the gang – and their caddies, who help mark intricate yardage books on every hole on the tours – use it?
Quoted by the Golf Channel, Justin Rose, who lost The Masters to Garcia on Sunday on an extra hole, said he liked the features rangefinders have and a professional player will probably put it to optimum use. It’s about club selection and targets.
Plus, with multiple observers openly wondering about the time it takes to play today’s sporting events – See: Major League Baseball – it shouldn’t add to their concerns.
“I don’t think it’s going to make any difference to speed of play,” Rose said. “We don’t play ‘one number’ golf. We want to know what it is to the back edge of the green; we want to know the distance over a bunker. We want to know what the distance is to a certain slope.
“So it’s not as basic as, ‘I have 179 to the pin.’ You kind of make decisions out on the golf course based on what’s around the pin.”
The Golf Channel quoted two others on different sides.
The emerging Jon Rahm, who played at Arizona State, had the ability to use one as an amateur, but said they stand in the way of “the essence of the game.” In addition, he add: ““I used them for four years in college, and I didn’t feel like they had an impact on pace of play one way or the other.”
Conversely, Bryson DeChambeau, who may never have met an electronic device he hasn’t enjoyed and adamantly supports adding more technology to golf, said allowing rangefinders to all professional tours “is the best thing they could possibly do. I definitely think it’s something that could help speed up play.”
And if the pros do eventually permit rangefinders, consider the following – it’s opportunity for additional sponsorship, say, the Nikon Laser with a NetJets logo.
(By the by, wife bought me one for Christmas; have used it four times and think it’s cool and will see if it helps once I get to play regularly.)
Kids and their technology continue to evolve.
Heeding their trends in this case is a no-brainer.
(Neil Devlin is the premier high school writer and editor in Colorado, and one of the best prep reporters in the country. He has covered all high school sports and state championships for The Denver Post for the past 37 interrupted years. He became the most prominent and popular, and longest-haired and longest-tenured, prep sports editor in Colorado history because he is an exceptional writer and an award-winning reporter, and he cares deeply about the students and the athletes. Devlin is the father of two — a Special Olympian, and a deputy district attorney, and he’s a dutiful husband. He was raised in the Philadelphia area and still loves his Philly steaks and pro teams — way too much. Neil recently departed The Post and joined woodypaige.com, and is contributing opinion pieces, polls and features on state and national high school sports regularly.)