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Gamechanger? USGA allows smartphone use for distance information during competition

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Good news, competitive golfers, you can now use your smartphone for distance information.

That’s right. The USGA, responding directly to Arccos’ request that its 360 app be permissible during competition, had this to say (per Golf Digest)

“Based on the information provided and our understanding that the Arccos 360 is incapable of gauging or measuring any parameter other than distance, use of the Arccos Caddie application in conjunction with the Arccos 360 application, as submitted, has been evaluated and it has been determined that the use of the Arccos Caddie application is permitted under the Rules of Golf when a Committee establishes a Local Rule permitting the use of distance measuring devices (see Decision 14-3/0.5). However, please note that in the absence of such a Local Rule, use of the Arccos System during a stipulated round is contrary to Rule 14-3.”

Because any information (namely, yardages) garnered from the app would theoretically be available prior to play, the USGA doesn’t have a problem with the use of the device.

“Golf is still a game of skill and judgment, and anything that can give a player an advantage and diminish that judgment is a problem,” USGA senior director of rules and amateur status Thomas Pagel told Golf Digest’s Mike Stachura. “The compilation of two or more data points to provide some recommendation that takes that judgment away from the player, that’s where the issue comes in.”

Thus, the use Arccos Caddie, which provides club recommendations and “plays like” distances to a user, is not permissible from the “two or more data points” perspective.

Needless to say, Arccos is happy.

“Everything in golf is sort of an evolutionary process,” Tom Williams, Arccos vice president of sales and marketing, told Golf Digest. “We think this is a really important step in a process that’s going to speed up, not slow down. We certainly feel the product breaks new ground, but this decision does, as well. You never know what’s going to happen when you’re pushing the boundaries, but we’re just super pleased that this is the outcome of many months of our process.”

Beyond Arccos in particular, however, and as Tom Williams rightly says, the decision builds on the 2016 allowance of rangefinder use during tournament play (Rule 14-3a), further opening the doors for the use of technology on course. 18Birdies, for example, another popular app that, among its capabilities, offers distance information, has a “USGA Tournament Mode” setting.

Certainly, the determination is good for the golf industry. Perhaps, the ripple effect is minimal, but there is at least potential both in terms of opening the door to app development, and doing something concrete about the great bugaboo of slow play at the competitive level.

Undoubtedly, some observers would go so far as to suggest the full capabilities of Arccos Caddie should be permissible for a player during competition.

From the “all or nothing” standpoint, there’s a logic to this position, which goes something like this: The USGA draws the line at information accessed during the round or using multiple data points. So, you can’t use a wind-measuring device, for example, but you can access projections of wind speed prior to your round.

Likewise (and uneasily, for the USGA), a player can have detailed green and slope maps in a yardage book, but he cannot access information projecting how his putt will break from an app during the round.

There’s a strangeness to the current climate. Don’t let players use yardage books or any devices, or let them use all available resources, lines in the sand that keep golf “a game of skill” are arbitrary, the “unrestrained technology” position holds.

Regardless, drawing lines in the sand is the order of the day, and in this case, the USGA has drawn correctly.

What do you think, WRX members?

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Joe Perez

    Dec 11, 2017 at 11:33 am

    OK, I’m a bit confused. Did the author, or USGA make a slip-up in the use of the descriptions Arccos APP and Arccos CADDIE? The first part of the article quotes the USGA in Golf Digest as saying the CADDIE feature of the Arccos app is now legal…

    “use of the Arccos Caddie application in conjunction with the Arccos 360 application, as submitted, has been evaluated and it has been determined that the use of the Arccos Caddie application is permitted under the Rules of Golf when a Committee…”

    But later in the article the author writes that the CADDIE feature is not allowed…

    “Thus, the use Arccos Caddie, which provides club recommendations and “plays like” distances to a user, is not permissible from the “two or more data points” perspective.”

    Please explain what I’m not understanding. I have Arccos, use it and like it, but do not pay the extra “subscription” fee to use the CADDIE feature, which I wouldn’t use anyway if it were free.

  2. Bert

    Dec 9, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    Use your eyes, it’s supposed to be part of the game, just like walking. I use a distance measurement device, and I know we;ll never go back, but I would support no measurement devices of any type, even the physical yardages markers, and labeled integration heads. I remember thinking, it’s a seven iron, only to see my well struck shot come up way short. As mentioned, being able to “judge” distance was part of the game.

  3. Rich

    Dec 8, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    THIS IS A BAD MOVE .tHIS IS OPENING PANDORA’S BOX ….

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19th Hole

Fancy a punt? Check out these Tiger Woods British Open prop bets

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It wouldn’t be a major featuring Tiger Woods without Tiger Woods prop bets, would it? Bettors, as we know, get off the sidelines to shovel cash behind Woods when he tees it up in major championships. This has been historically true. It was true at the Masters. It was true at the U.S. Open.

Accordingly, the good folks at BetDSI are offering a number of Woods wagers you may be keen to punt on…especially if you want a piece of the TW action but aren’t keen to take Woods at 24-1 to win The Open.

Tiger Woods makes cut

Yes -350
No +250

Tiger Woods wins

Yes +2400
No -2900

Tiger Woods finishes top 5

Yes +600
No -900

Tiger Woods finishes top 10

Yes +270
No -400

Tiger Woods finishes top 20

Yes +140
No -170

Tiger Woods finishing position

Over 25.5 (-115)
Under 25.5 (-115)

Tiger Woods lowest round

Over 69.5 (-110)
Under 69.5 (-120)

Tiger Woods highest round

Over 75.5 (-110)
Under 75.5 (-120)

Tiger Woods highest score on any hole

Over 7 (-110)
Under 7 (-120)

Tiger Woods total double bogeys or worse

Over 3 (-110)
Under 3 (-120)

Tiger Woods within 5 strokes of lead during final round

Yes +225
No -300

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19th Hole

WATCH Phil Mickelson hit a flop shot over a man 2 yards in front of him

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On the Gear Dive podcast, Fred Couples told Johnny Wunder that Phil Mickelson is the best judge of a lie (and the shots he can execute from a certain lie) in the game of golf.

This video from Carnoustie yesterday is testament both to that fact and a reminder that Phil Mickelson’s short game is truly singular.

Former European Tour pro Gary Evans was the guinea pig.

Here’s the shot from another angle. That’s gotta be a 64-degree Callaway Mack Daddy PM Grind, no?

Mother of golf gods! Check your trousers, Gary! How crazy is that shot? There’s plenty of puffery when it comes to Phil’s short game, but that shot is simply insane. Would love to see the Trackman data on that flop.

I mean, if Phil doesn’t get the contact he wants and you get hit, you gotta hope to get pelted in the stomach or chest…and not the jewels or the face.

What do you think, GolfWRX members? Would you take Evans place for viral video fame? A few bills from Mickelson’s famed cash wad?

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19th Hole

Want to watch Rickie Fowler drive it 458 yards? Sure you do!

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I’m not about to act like Rickie Fowler had some Hulk-meets-Joe Miller moment at the Scottish Open and belted a drive more than 450 yards.

No, Dick Fowler, P.I.,was massively aided by baked out Gullane, the contours of the fairway, and likely a decent tailwind. Obviously. He’d certainly admit that fact, and it’s abundantly clear he smacked his drive down a concrete ski slope.

That said, a 458-yard drive is a 458-yard drive, and it’s a spectacle worth watching.

Check it out.

All credit to the Cobra King F8+ and Aldila NV 2KXV Blue 70X shaft; check out Fowler’s full WITB here.

Fowler finished tied for sixth place at 14-under.

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