Are Golf GPS Devices & Rangefinders Legal for Tournament Play?

With the continuous rise of the current global golf GPS market status, more and more players are considering it as a necessity instead of a luxury. It is a must-have to elevate your game and improve accuracy on the course. However, for most beginners, they have one common questions – are golf GPS devices & rangefinders legal for tournament play? Read on and we’ll answer that question in this short guide.

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Are Golf GPS Devices & Rangefinders Legal for Tournament Play?

The short answer is YES, GPS devices and rangefinders are legal for tournament play. This means that even professionals should invest in the highest-rated golf GPS to take their game to the next level.

In the past, electronics were not allowed in the golf course. However, we came a long way and they are now essentials for many players, especially those who play in professional tournaments. Today, tour players are allowed to use popular GPS golf watches, laser rangefinder, or any other similar measuring device. Nonetheless, there is a catch. Only limited features can be used in tournaments.

The United States Golf Association Rule 14.3

This is a rule from the USGA that prohibits one from using any device or equipment that will give one player an unfair advantage over the others. Instead, the player should rely solely on personal knowledge, abilities, skills, and judgments.

Nonetheless, through the years, the rule that covers the use of artificial devices and unusual equipment has been through several amendments. It was in 2006 when this rule had a major change. That year, distance-measuring devices have been allowed in tournaments. More so, there was another major revision in 2016. This time, the players can use a device with prohibited features, but they must be tuned off, disabled, or inaccessible during the game.

What The Law Prohibits

Certain features of a golf GPS are not allowed during tournaments. Below, we’ll quickly discuss more about such features.

Slope Reading

This is a function that measures the elevation degree in a golf course. It also detects a vertical surface when you are playing in a hilly area. You can use this function on a non-official game, but for tournaments, it is banned. If you can read slopes during a game, you will have an advantage of others, which is why such feature is not allowed.

Gauge Weather Conditions

One of the benefits of a golf GPS is that it allows players to better understand the playing environment. Among others, it will help in gauging the weather, and see how it is influential of your game. In tournaments, this is another feature that you cannot use.

Contact Coach

You will also find golf GPS and rangefinders that will let you get in touch with a coach in just a single click. While it may seem convenient, you are not allowed to use this feature in a professional tournament. This can be considered cheating as you are asking help from another person on what your next move will be.

Club Suggestion

Another common feature of a golf GPS and rangefinder is its ability to suggest clubs that are most suitable for your next shot. The information stored in the system will analyze your shot, and from such evaluations, will suggest the club that you should be using next. In tournaments, you cannot use such feature.

What the Rule Allows

Now that you know what you cannot do with a golf GPS or rangefinder in a tournament, we’ll also give you a walkthrough of the things that you can legally do with these devices.

Distance Measurements

You can use a device for measuring distances that are crucial for plotting your next shot or swing. These can be distances to greens, hazards, and trees. This is the most common feature that you will find in a golf rangefinder.

CaddyTek Golf Laser Rangefinder with Pin Seeking and Slope Compensate Distance

Information Sharing to Other Players

While you are not allowed to contact your trainer or coach, you can use your device for sharing information to other golfers. This will help in more efficient communication during a round of golf.

Record Data

Keep track of your performance in the golf course, including the scores. You can use a golf GPS device or rangefinder to make it easier to keep tab of the game.

Monitor Weather Conditions

There are some weather details that you are not allowed to access, such as wind speed and direction. However, there are also details that you can legally obtain, such as rain or storm. This way, it is easier to plan your day on the golf course.


In sum, golf GPS devices and rangefinders are allowed in tournaments. However, you cannot use all features in a professional game. Functions like slope reading and club suggestions are banned, since they are believed to give one player an unfair advantage over another person.