The R&A - Working for Golf

Distance Measuring Devices

Since the days when selecting a club was done purely by “eye”, there has been development of aids available to players to help gauge distance. Initially, there was the introduction of course yardage charts, distance markers at the sides of fairways and distances on sprinkler heads. More recently, technological advancements have resulted in devices, often referred to as Distance Measuring Devices (DMDs), which can accurately measure distance using a variety of technologies. 

Since 2006 the use of such devices has been allowed, but only under a Local Rule put in place by the relevant Club or Competition Committee.  Now, the 2019 Rules of Golf allow the use of DMDs without the need for a Local Rule.  But, in the situation when an Committee wants to restrict the use of such devices, it can put a Local Rule in place prohibiting the use of DMDs 

Although the Rules of Golf allow the use of DMDs, players must ensure that the device they use complies with the restrictions in Rule 4.3a(1) . For additional guidance on distance measuring devices, please see the information below. 

Do’s and Don’ts

Under rule 4.3 the use of distance-measuring devices is permitted however there are certain do’s and don’ts that golfers need to be aware of: 


You may use a device to:

  • Measure straight line distance between two points;
  • Access a club yardage chart based off historical information;
  • Enter your hole scores;
  • Enter shot information – for later analysis (e.g. club used and location);
  • Access a local weather forecast.


You may not use a device to:

  • Measure elevation changes;
  • Calculate effective distance based on elevation changes or other conditions affecting shot distance (often called the plays like feature).
  • Measure other conditions that might affect play (e.g., wind speed or direction);
  • Interpret distance or directional information (such as using a device to get a recommended line of play or club selection.

Your Distance Measuring Device Questions Answered

For more detail and questions that you may have on Distance Measuring Devices, please click here.