Since the game was played, caddies have been an intrical part of the PGA TOUR. Many casual fans don’t understand how important they are to the golfer, and how much help they actually provide. A caddy knows pretty much everything when they walk through a course. Good place to miss, shot lines, elevation change, green angulation, yardage, just to name a few. The caddy is a critical part of all TOUR player’s games. But could their job be made easier?
With the advancements rangefinders have made over the last several years, combined with the consistent issue of slow play on TOUR, the idea of rangefinders becoming legal during tournament play has come up a lot. There are two sides to the argument. The first being there would be no more slow play. All distances from anywhere on the course would be determined in a matter of seconds, allowing all players to play much faster. The other side of the coin argues that taking away the yardage and elevation change calculation aspect of the game would take away the “art”. I can see where both sides are coming from, so let’s dive a bit deeper.
Like I said before, lasers being tournament legal would take away a part of the game that has been a pillar since the beginning. The teamwork between player and caddie is incredible to watch and listen to. These discussions are some of the best parts of the TV coverage. Hearing Tiger and Joey work out a yardage, then decide what kind of shot would be best in that spot is must watch TV.
The caddie is now borderline useless. They would be there to carry the bag, rake a bunker, and stay out of the way. Now you may argue that they can still read the green for their player, but 90% of the guys on TOUR don’t use their caddie while reading greens.
Aside from the level of play, the caddie/player dynamic is the biggest aspect of golf that separates the PGA TOUR and amatuer play. Sure, if you go to Bandon Dunes for a boys trip, you can have caddies for the week. But they all use rangefinders and carry multiple bags - it’s not close to the same thing.
To be honest, I spent a good amount of time trying to come up with a few different pro’s for there to be rangefinders on TOUR - I couldn’t do it. The only big one I could think of was pace of play. Pace of play has been the biggest issue on TOUR for years now. Guys like Bryson DeChambeau, J.B Holmes, and Ben Crane are the poster boys for this issue.
Having caddies equipped with lasers would no doubt pick up the pace a bit on TOUR. It’s gotten to the point where some guys are borderline unwatchable because of how slow they play - *cough* *cough* - Bryson.
I know what you’re thinking, what do I think? Personally, and this may be me being a golf snob for a second, I don’t think there should be lasers on TOUR. I just think the caddies job is so important to the art of the game, and the relationship between caddie and player would become non-existent with lasers. TOUR pros pick guys, or ladies, that they’re comfortable with, people that they can trust during the entirety of a round, a tournament, a season, a career.
I also don’t think the pace of play would improve as much as everyone thinks. Sure, does it sometimes take too long for a distance to be determined. Yup. But the problem really lies when a player can’t decide what kind of shot to hit. Rangefinders would help the situation a bit, but not enough that you would see a sizable difference. We’re talking, what, 10-15 minutes per round? I just don’t think that’s a big deal over the course of a 5 hour round of golf.