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Phil Mickelson made history in 2021 by becoming the oldest golfer to win a major golf tournament.
He also became one of the first golfers to win the tournament using a rangefinder to approximate the shot distance.
The PGA Championship in 2021 was the first major tournament that allowed using rangefinders during competition, and many people scrutinized the use of rangefinders in such tournaments.
Caddies and golf players both use rangefinders, especially in practice. Since the device came out in 1995, it has been utilized to make training more enjoyable and fast-paced, but it is still uncertain whether rangefinders will be used in all competitions in the future.
Let’s explore the importance of rangefinders in golf and their meaning for the sport.
The Importance of Rangefinders in Golf
Rangefinders are essentially used to estimate the distance between the golf ball and the pin on the golf course.
Golfing authorities decided to use rangefinders to improve the game’s pace. Still, players, caddies, and commentators received it with scrutiny and could not decide if it was a good idea or not.
It is crucial to measure the distance using a rangefinder because it allows players to choose a particular club or decide the most suitable shot type to reach the target area accurately.
Certain golfers were opposed or not too sure about the use of rangefinders in the sport because most of the measurement work is commonly carried out by the player’s caddie.
There has been a lot of advancement in golf, and technology has been used to determine how best it can assist the game of golf in making it more exciting and fast-paced.
However, we must draw a line to ensure that technology is only used to assist and improve human performance, but not to the degree that it reduces the need for human skill, which can decrease confidence.
This concept is applied to all sports, including golf.
Some of the previous research carried out by experts indicated that psychological factors play a crucial role in determining technology usage.
Reasons to Use Technology in Golf
People and golfers need a level of trust in technology before they feel comfortable enough to use it. Trust can only develop if there is belief in the benefits of technology.
For example, a professional golfer may see the benefits of a rangefinder if they see their friend using it successfully and may think of using it themselves.
Research by experts has indicated that golfers’ trust in the technology of rangefinders increases after playing only one round of golf.
Professional golfers use rangefinders during their practice and non-competition rounds to their advantage, but it is still not fully allowed in all major competitions.
Golf analysts have discovered that if players use rangefinders regularly, their trust in the technology is consistent.
A player’s self-confidence is also affected by the use of technology.
If players are confident in their golfing skills, they do not feel like they need to use rangefinders, and vice versa.
Ultimately, it boils down to a balance between self-confidence and trust in technology if the use of rangefinders is to be utilized more often in competitions.
Some external factors can also affect the use of rangefinders, such as the difficulty of carrying out a particular task or situation, which can play an important role.
Despite professional golfers being much more confident in their skills to play golf effectively, most of them, including their caddies, opted for using rangefinders at the PGA Championship.
Players influenced this decision mainly because they realized they could confirm their distance estimate between the pin and golf ball and make adjustments if their prediction was wrong.
However, it is important to note that if players and their caddies become reliant on using rangefinders to estimate the distances frequently, this could affect their overall confidence in their own ability, and rangefinders can quickly become a crutch or substitute for actual skill.
Rangefinders For Training Vs. Competition
Many professional golfers use rangefinders in their practice rounds despite not being allowed to use the technology in most competitions.
For best carryover from practice to competition, players must mimic the exact conditions in competitions to maximize transfer from training.
A worry that many people face regarding rangefinders is their overuse, making training sessions better than their actual performance in competitions.
If a professional golfer starts relying exclusively on rangefinders to estimate the distances, the skill that comes from walking off distances and being reliant on yardage books becomes underutilized and suffers in development.
Players are not recruiting the same cognitive processes for estimation in training and competition, which means that training may give them a false sense of confidence in their ability.
However, it is important to remember that this is basic knowledge for professional golfers who can choose to experiment with whatever works and reach their own conclusions.
Any golfer playing at an elite level knows more about how to improve their performance than those on the outside.
But since we are all human and prone to making mistakes, it is still likely that the adverse effects described may occur.
Using rangefinders is like a double-edged sword; there are benefits and also negatives.
Making an informed decision means being aware of all the factors and choosing a particular playing style, which can serve as an excellent self-experiment if players wish to switch things up and depart from a more traditional way of looking at things.
The current generation of golfers has adapted well to minimal technology in their games. Still, since all sports are constantly evolving, we may expect to see greater similarities between training and competition performance.
People will always use technology to modify the traditional approach to sports, and some trial and error are important before reaching permanent changes.
Rangefinders were introduced back in 1995, and Mickelson had a successful three years of professional play under his belt, during which he had successfully estimated the shot distances.
However, he made a change in recent times at the 2021 PGA tour and used the rangefinder device alongside his caddie to great effect.
The recent PGA Championship has shown the world that the future of golfing using rangefinders is soon to come.
The implications of using the device are still not thoroughly researched, but you can expect the pace and performance to be greatly affected, which has the potential to change the sport as a whole.
Both caddies and professional golfers frequently use rangefinders. It is up to them whether they decide to use the device during practice, especially when training for competitions that do not allow its use.