THOUGH the PGA have given the green light to the use of electronic GPS distance devices in all their tournaments, it is a different matter in the amateur game.
The English Golf Union and Yorkshire Union of Golf Clubs do not allow their use in national and county events and the Halifax, Huddersfield District Union take a similar stance on what is developing into a controversial issue.
While a club is free to create a local rule allowing the use of the devices, sales of which are on the increase, and the R&A make it clear that they may be used strictly for gauging and measuring distances, their use is banned in national and county championships with the Halifax, Huddersfield Union following suit.
“We have nothing on our agenda relating to this matter as our competitions are governed by the Rules of Golf,” said Union secretary John Lawrence, referring to Rule 14-3, which deals with artificial and unusual equipment.
“I have not had any enquiries from our member clubs about the use of the devices and I’m not aware of any of our clubs having created a local rule allowing their use on their course.”
Leeds Union have also banned their use, announcing: “GPS distance devices are not permitted in any event organised by the Union unless otherwise stated.”
Neither will their use be permitted in Yorkshire Inter-Union League matches.
While the use of the devices is regarded by some as helpful in speeding up play, they create something of a grey area.
A past captain of a prominent Yorkshire club told me that a number of his fellow members use range finders, sparking protests from playing partners not using them that they are being placed at a disadvantage.
The PGA recently gave the go-ahead to the aids following a trial in an event at Fulford – and now one of their major championships is sponsored by a manufacturer of the devices – but one leading regional champion who tried a device in that tournament was not enamoured by them, saying players in the same group were at times given conflicting yardages.
Meanwhile, I understand the question of girls being allowed to play for club teams in Halifax, Huddersfield Junior League matches has raised its head again.
Such moves are a waste of time. The constitution and rules of the Union clearly state that playing members should be “full and junior male members of a member club” and that no new rule or regulation can be made or rule altered unless approved by at least two thirds of votes cast by representatives at the AGM or an EGM convened for that purpose.
The chase for the Union Scratch Team championship starts tomorrow at Elland where Hanging Heaton, Bradley Park, Elland, Ryburn, Longley Park, Willow Valley, Queensbury, Marsden, Crosland Heath, Lightcliffe, Todmorden and Crow Nest Park go in the Division II event from which the leading four will join exempt clubs in the Division I championship at Willow Valley on June 3.