Nearly every golfer uses some kind of distance measuring device. Thanks to this new rule change, golfers will no longer need a local rule to allow the use of D.M.D. According to the USGA, the current default position in the Rules will be reversed. Rule 4.3 will allow players to use DMDs to measure distance, but a committee may adopt a Local Rule prohibiting such use of DMDs.
Reasons for Change
Allowing DMD use is consistent with the principles of the game. Figuring out the distance to the hole or to another location on the course is not one of the decisions that the Rules expect players to make using only their own skill and judgment or only with a caddie’s advice.
Distance is public information a player may get from anyone; and on most courses, this information is found on sprinkler heads, markers, posts, etc.
DMD use has become widespread in the 10 or so years since they were introduced, and they are allowed at most clubs throughout the world and in most amateur competitions, including (since 2014) at USGA and R&A amateur championships.
Reversing the default position will help avoid the confusion that sometimes exists today when clubs or players do not realize that DMD use requires an adoption of a Local Rule. At the same time, Committees that are not comfortable with allowing the use of electronic devices such as DMDs on their course generally or during a particular competition may still prohibit their use.