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19th Hole

Junior golfer penalized for using rangefinder in tournament…from 40 yards

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Unlike most junior competitions, rangefinder use is not permitted at this week’s Junior Invitational at Sage Valley. Akshay Bhatia forgot this and paid the price.

Facing a pitch shot from short of the green at Sage Valley’s par-5 fourth hole, Bhatia busted out his rangefinder and shot the pin, determining that he was 40 yards away. His next determination: He just made a big mistake, forgetting that the devices were not permitted at the Invitational.

Kids these days! Too reliant on technology and all that. 40 yards away, come on! But really, it’s an unfortunate error. The pro move, obviously, is not to even have the rangefinder in the bag. Bhatia, just 16, received this wisdom the hard way.

“I knew I couldn’t use a rangefinder, but I decided to take it out for some reason and use it… It’s my fault. I should’ve taken it out of the golf bag (before the round). It sucks, but I’m grateful I’m still in this position and not disqualified.” said Bhatia, per Golfweek.

Bhatia was hit with a two-shot penalty for the violation, carding a double-bogey seven on the hole accordingly. However, he still managed to tally a four-under 68 for his opening round and was tied for the lead after the first day of competition.

Coaches would be better equipped to dive deep into this one, but there are a couple of angles to approach range finder use from 40 yards out in general. However, I’ll say this. While it’s easy to say, “What the hell do you need a rangefinder from 40 yards for?” Here are a few more thoughts.

  1. Bhatia may stick to a fixed pre-shot routine on drives and approaches. The rangefinder use may be part of that. Thus, he erroneously pressed play on his usual routine before realizing his error.
  2. If Bhatia only uses a rangefinder situationally, it’s worth saying that an awkward third-shot yardage at a par-5 is a situation where you may want to get an exact yardage…it’s not like he was 11 yards out or something.
  3. Maybe he’s of the Dave Pelz-ian school and “timed wedges,” in which case he’d want the exact number, rather than merely feeling the distance for a 60-degree wedge shot, etc.

I don’t know, GolfWRXers, what do you think?

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61 Comments

61 Comments

  1. e

    Apr 21, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    Nbd. Sounds like he did it, owned it, took his penalty and still shot a great score, lived and learned, and is a very promising young player. Hope he closes it out today!

  2. Bill

    Apr 21, 2018 at 10:25 am

    Everyone is saying he shouldn’t play golf because he used a rangefinder from 40 yards, he’s one of he best junior players in the country. Joke will be on all of you when he’s on tour.

  3. Gary

    Apr 21, 2018 at 2:08 am

    Range finders should now be legal in pro tournaments, it speeds up play. It’s so old school pacing yardages and busting out bits of paper and yardage books. This sport needs to play catch-up big time

  4. Serr

    Apr 20, 2018 at 10:31 pm

    Enough about the rangefinder, where do we get that belt?

  5. Luke.

    Apr 20, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    I hope he wins

  6. LP

    Apr 20, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    Do you think Jordan Spieth would hit a shot without knowing the exact yardage? He’s using a range finder from that distance because it would be slightly too far to step out. Every inch counts for these guys.

  7. Jonah m

    Apr 20, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    Let the kids use rangefinders in the event..they still need to hit the shot, at least they know the correct distance.

    • Jason

      Apr 20, 2018 at 3:49 pm

      I’m a caddie in this event, all 54 players have a full time year round Sage Valley caddie. They’ll get the right yardage.

  8. Scott

    Apr 20, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    I walk the courses that I can, most of my friends ride. I sometimes pull out the range finder on short distances just to catch my breath or slow down my process. Can’t speak to why he did it, however, it is a lot more time efficient than having him walk off the distance like we did in prior years.

  9. lulu

    Apr 20, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    I believe his right to use a rangefinder is covered by the Second Amendment and the First Amendment. He should take the tournament to court and even the SCOTUS and then sue.

  10. Ell

    Apr 20, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    I was referring to the range finders that you have to look through and site the pin. Those are the ones that slow down play, the ones like skycaddie are instantneous in providing the distances to the front, middle, and back of the green.

    • Dan Jones, PGA

      Apr 20, 2018 at 11:52 pm

      Which slows down play more, stepping off yardage, deriving your yardage through a yardage book or using course markers, or taking 10 seconds to shoot the flag with a range finder? If anything,I I would say a range finder is the fastest way of getting a yardage. I know what club and what swing combination goes a certain yardage from 21 yards back to 80. I absolutely want to know the exact yardage in those ranges, and I have taught several of my students to learn the same method, one of them lowered his handicap from 18 to 12 in 3 months with just that one lesson alone, so I think golfers at all levels should know their yardage exactly.

  11. Ell

    Apr 20, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    When I started playing 50 years ago the only range finders were the yardage markers on the fairways. If you can’t decide which club to use with the yardage markers, then maybe you shouldn’t be playing golf. First of all the idea that rangefinders speed up play is b.s., that’s a myth perpertrated by Garmin and the other manufacturers of range finders. Just step off the distance from the yardage marker and either add or subtract to get the yardage, that is unless you need a calculator to come up with the answer. If that’s the case you are hopeless.

    • JThunder

      Apr 20, 2018 at 7:22 pm

      You’re saying it’s faster to find a yardage marker and then walk off the distance – as opposed to pressing a button? Umm…

  12. Robert Parsons

    Apr 20, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    Is 40 yard info even useful?

    Would these same people use a range finder for putts more than 30 feet out too?!?

  13. Garb

    Apr 20, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    Should’ve been DQ’ed. The rules are way too soft these days, no wonder kids like Eldrick think they can pork all these women and think they only have to pay a penalty

    • RJ

      Apr 20, 2018 at 8:34 pm

      @Garb
      Did you manage to drop “I’m a Tiger Woods HATER for life” reference in a story that could not have been any further from him…. Just stick to the script or reread the article so your thoughts don’t make you look foolish.

  14. plusfore

    Apr 20, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    You can’t fix stupid.

  15. joro

    Apr 20, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    If you can’t figure it out from 40 yrs. get off the course. Today they have to have a range finder from everywhere. Learn to play the game the way it should be played, by you senses and feel. Todays the shot may call for an 8 iron, the same shot tomorrow may call for a 7 Iron, get used to using your head, not a rangefinder, How did we ever figure it out in the old days. Remarkable.

  16. frank cichon

    Apr 20, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    I watch so little golf on TV these days. Why would the PGA Tour allow a player & caddy to both bring out their books and start to read once they are on the green. Maybe provide both with a lawn chair and they can sit on the apron to figure out the contours.How good were the guys on Tour before Jack got into “Yardages”. Tee Boxes on Tour today are as good to putt on as GREENS were in the 50’s & 60’s were and yet scoring DOES NOT reflect it! Most likely time per round was at least an HOUR LESS than it is presently. THIS IS ONE REASON THE GAME IS DYING! Why should I listen to a player & caddy discuss the shot for over a minute and than take another 30-50 seconds to hit the shot. Give them 50 seconds PERIOD …than a warning and next time violation a 1 stroke PENALTY…next time infraction a 2 stroke penalty and we would save 60-90 MINUTES per round! Now Jack is talking 12 hole golf courses! I started playing golf in 1956 at Weston Golf Club in Toronto where Arnold won his first PGA event (Canadian Open) and I volunteered every year at the PGA stop in Vancouver B.C. and my comment regarding the Greens and Tee Boxes is very close to realty. Shows the talent these guys had …forget the strides in equipment NO Lob wedges AND they were NOT afraid to hit the shot without having their Caddy assuring him that he is lined up perfectly and it is OK to hit the shot

  17. Golfgirlrobin

    Apr 20, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    Not sure why everyone’s getting so ramped up about this. Kid knew rule, kid made mistake, kid took penalty and moved on. So should everyone else.

    • Robert Parsons

      Apr 20, 2018 at 3:27 pm

      In case you missed it, golfwrx wrote an article about it then went on to email everyone the link to read it. AND, you decided to post a comment telling others to “move on”. I’m told it’s here, to read it, given the option to give opinion, yet you are the end all be all and tell everyone to move on.

      Great. Glad you determined what was best for all. Did you tell the golfwrx site owners/admin to remove the article too?

      • JThunder

        Apr 20, 2018 at 7:25 pm

        And the 40+ comments are what will convince Golfwrx to keep writing articles exactly like this – and keep emailing you about them.

        The buzzword being “penalized” – everyone loves a good train wreck.

  18. Greg

    Apr 20, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    I prefer to pace off shots like this. Walk off to front of green to look

  19. youraway

    Apr 20, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Yes if you violate the Rules or the Conditions of Competition then you pay the penalty, simple. If you want to grow the game, maintain the standards of the game.

  20. Adam

    Apr 20, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    I’m sure this will make it’s way to cnn….

  21. Mike

    Apr 20, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    I’m sorry but the USGA talks at great length about growing the game and speed of play. Whats wrong with using range finders? I know I will get some push back from those old minded individuals who take great pride in being the rules police but those are the same guys the would complain about being behind a group that routinely walked of a 40yd shot. Time to bring the game out of the dark ages.

    • cb

      Apr 20, 2018 at 12:49 pm

      Im totally with you on the pace of play and the fact that rangefinders can help with that. But in an amateur tournament I can understand not allowing or limiting them for the sole purpose that they can be very expensive and not all golfers can afford them. So you wouldnt want to start the tournament off by having some golfers benefit solely by the fact that they can afford a rangefinder over other golfers who may be just as good but wont have the luxury of the rangefinder.

      • Adamj

        Apr 20, 2018 at 2:09 pm

        This is the AJGA. These kids usually have loads of money. They spend tens of thousands a year on tournament travel alone, never mind the equipment, coaching, club dues, nutritionist, trainers, psychologist, etc…

        Some have been known to travel by private jet to tournaments.

  22. Patrick Echelbarger

    Apr 20, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    I am a Pelzer afficianado and I use the rangefinder at 30 yards. The kid made a mistake. He moved on.

  23. Ken

    Apr 20, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    A teenage “move” by a teenager. Oh, well – live and learn. He clearly didn’t need his rangefinder for the other 17 holes.

  24. Bob Jones

    Apr 20, 2018 at 11:56 am

    A rule is a rule. But why this particular case was presented to us is beyond me.

  25. D

    Apr 20, 2018 at 11:50 am

    I have used a rangefinder many times from 80 yards in as I have some issues with depth perception. Though I am doing it less now and gethe comments about other keys in terrain etc to help judget the distance.

    I see in the picture the young golfer wears glasses…perhaps he has some similarperception issue. Not forgiving his mistake, just pointing out that judging a 40 yard or 60 yard etc distance isn’t as simple for everyone.

  26. Dennis

    Apr 20, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Some including myself use it at about that distance only to determine the length of backswing required with varios clubs. Seems like a harsh penaty as range finders as allowed everywhere in this day and age

    • Bob Castelline

      Apr 20, 2018 at 11:56 am

      Same here, Dennis. I routinely practice wedges in 5-yard increments. There’s a big difference between “exactly 40 yards” and “about 40 or 50,” which is where most of us end up when we guess.

  27. Rob Pfeil

    Apr 20, 2018 at 11:47 am

    Guessing yardages inside 100 yards is one reason why amateurs are so much worse at inside 100 than pros. You think a pro doesn’t know exactly how far they are away? How many times do we see them step off 30-40 yard shots?

    • Bob Castelline

      Apr 20, 2018 at 11:52 am

      A pro knows the exact yardage because his caddie tells him the exact yardage because the caddie has gone out with a rangefinder and written down the yardages.

      Not being able to use a rangefinder is a dumb rule. Rangefinders don’t make you a better player. They simply give you information. You still have to execute the shot. Plus, I’d rather see a guy use a rangefinder than take 10 minutes to step off the yardage. We complain about how long rounds take, then blast the use of something that speeds up play? Whatever.

      • Tom Hertwig

        Apr 20, 2018 at 12:17 pm

        Your 100% correct and yet the usga can’t see it. They will allow range finders in certain tournaments and not in others…….go figure…..and they allow a book with every conceivable break for reading greens which is legal…

      • Terry Chang

        Apr 20, 2018 at 12:48 pm

        Agree with you completely. Rangefinders should help speed up the game for both pros and amateurs. It does not confer an unfair advantage because the golfer still has to execute the shot, which is the skill element. It just stops the unnecessary pacing and checking back and forth with yardage books and looking for yardage markers.

  28. Dave r

    Apr 20, 2018 at 11:46 am

    If this junior can shoot 68 and that’s with a two stroke penalty and only use his range finder once for a forty yard shot he is not in need of a range finder. Rules are rules and they were broken. I feel sorry for him but he was the better man and took the result with its my fault and I know better good on him.

  29. JJ

    Apr 20, 2018 at 11:45 am

    ..or the jokes on you for wanting to make fun of a 16 year old.

  30. mbu

    Apr 20, 2018 at 11:44 am

    I don’t know why they can’t just allow rangefinders all the time at all levels. IT’S a quicker game that way, and it desperately needs speeding up.There are far too many rules in golf.
    Where to drop in water hazards, how many club lengths,grounding in a hazard,I don’t see the need for all the vagaries

  31. Tom54

    Apr 20, 2018 at 11:44 am

    While we’re on the subject of range finders could their use help speed up the PGA players? Having the player and his caddy back and forth with that yardage book seems to take a lot of time. Knowing the exact yardage would seem to help but something tells me they would find a way to dramatize that too. I’m always amazed that the last one to hit in the group waits till it’s their turn to hit then it’s time for the book and the grass throwing, etc. Seems like range finders might help perhaps.

  32. Chisag

    Apr 20, 2018 at 11:38 am

    There are feel players and technical players. I can’t imagine needing a range fonder from 40 yds as that is a feel shot. Technically approaching that shot I would think it very difficult to have a specific swing for that distance when having to consider the slope, the lie, the grain if bermuda and where you want your ball to finish … past the hole, short of the hole, right at the hole or left or right of the hole depending on the green.

  33. Barry Jones

    Apr 20, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Range finders should be allowed in all proffesioal competitions.The amount of time wasted by players and their caddies in consulting charts & notes would be reduced. We would also get quicker play which is constantly called for.

    • Al Fong

      Apr 21, 2018 at 12:23 am

      Absolutely! I’ve thought the same for years. Not only would everyone get the correct yardage the fastest way possible but the results of good shots would make for lower scores, less shots, and save even more time.

  34. Sam

    Apr 20, 2018 at 11:02 am

    The difference between 39 and 41 yards is crucial is you’re a skilled wedge player. It would be foolish to think that a rangefinder from 40 yards would not be useful. The alternative is to walk off the yardage if you don’t already know it, which adds time to the round for everyone involved.

    • Robert

      Apr 20, 2018 at 12:09 pm

      It doesn’t add more time to the round if you start pacing off the yardage from the 100 yard marker on the way to your ball.

      • Carl

        Apr 20, 2018 at 12:21 pm

        Robert, that only tells you to the middle of the green, doesn’t take into account the pin placement.

  35. Josh

    Apr 20, 2018 at 10:49 am

    You can get a pretty good scan of the green slopes and contours from 40 out…quite the baller for a 68 nonetheless.

  36. M-Herd4

    Apr 20, 2018 at 10:43 am

    Why is the range finder even allowed in the bag for tournaments like this? If they’re not allowed how is that any different then the 14 club rule? Meaning, why can’t someone then carry 15 or more clubs but only use 14 or less during the round without penalty…

    • bandrz

      Apr 20, 2018 at 11:12 am

      I’m pretty sure you can, you just have to declare which of the 15 clubs you are not going to use before you begin. I think… who knows. the rules of golf consistently reverse course from common sense.

    • JC

      Apr 20, 2018 at 11:41 am

      You can declare on the first tee you are not going to use a club. It’s the same as having a training aid in the bag. It can be there but you can’t use it.

      • david

        Apr 20, 2018 at 12:31 pm

        No you can’t

        • fred

          Apr 20, 2018 at 1:09 pm

          Yes you can

          • Kenny V

            Apr 20, 2018 at 1:34 pm

            Per USGA rule 4-4 you may only start a round with 14 clubs. Local rules may allow you to carry 15 and declare one out of play but you technically may only start with 14. Hence the Woosnam US Open breach.

            • Nigel Kent

              Apr 21, 2018 at 9:19 am

              It was at Royal Lytham & St’ Anne’s in the Open Championship . The 1st hole is a par-3 , which Ian almost aced , getting a birdie from less than 2 feet . Only on the 2nd tee did his caddy , reaching for a driver , realise there were 2 of them in the bag ( from Ian’s practice on the range ).So a 2-stroke penalty , Ian’s playing 5 off the 2nd tee .

  37. Brandon

    Apr 20, 2018 at 10:27 am

    I was going to make fun of him for using a range finder from 40 yards but he shot 68 with a 2 stroke penalty. I can only dream of shooting a 68. so i guess the jokes on me.

    • john ballas

      Apr 20, 2018 at 9:35 pm

      why would a kid that shot 68 really need a range finder

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The DailyWRX: What’s buzzing on social media (5/26/2020)

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I hope everyone had a safe Memorial Day weekend—but we back to work and the golf season is in full blossom.

Here is what was a buzzin’ on the interweb.

Hmm…

I wonder who from the top sheet is a legitimate stick. My money is on Steph. I’ve seen him up close and the guy can get it around—meaning the guy can hit it all over the place and still shoot in the low 70s. That’s the mark of a player.

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Selected sports stars' golf handicaps ????

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Thank you…

I get to work a dream job because you all fight to keep us safe. We are nothing without you.

If you were placing bets before the tee shots…

No one, I mean no one, bets on TW having the worst shot. Odds are 6.5 billion to 1.

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Public service announcement…

He split his pants. It’s Tom Brady. No amount of memes, Twitter posts, or IG things will make it anything. I was hoping the world would let that one go due to its LOWWWWWWWWW hanging fruit appeal. I mean I’m writing a “do not post”…post on it, What a world.

DM @johnny_wunder with non-Tom Brady tore his pants stuff.

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GolfWRX Classifieds Spotlight (05/26/20): Miuras, Mizuno, Callaway

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At GolfWRX, we love golf equipment plain and simple

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment for the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball, it even allows us to share another thing – the equipment itself.

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These are some of the latest cool finds from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

Member BennettSmed1 – Mizuno T20 RAW wedges

They’re so new they haven’t rusted yet! Here’s your opportunity to get some almost new Mizuno T20 wedges in your bag for less than new price.

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As Phil likes to say “it’s all about hitting bombs” and that is exactly what you will be doing with this hard to find 5.0° Callaway XR16 LD Driver head. **Phil-like results NOT Guaranteed*

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Callaway Long Driver XR

Member dlarocca1 – Drool worthy Miura Set

There are nasty sets, and then there are NASTY SETS!! These Mitsubishi OTi110 shafts are not common and to see them in a set like this is even more impressive. To top it all off they have been built with BB&F Ferrules, to give them an extra premium look (it’s not like it was really needed – but they are appreciated). This set is expensive but still well under what it would cost new.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Miura Set with OTi110

Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds 

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The 6 best #GolfWRX photos on Instagram today (5.26.20)

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In this segment, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best #GolfWRX tagged photos on Instagram. In case you aren’t already, there’s a whole load of action going on at our page, so follow us: @golfwrx

Let’s get to it then, here are six of the best #GolfWRX photos from the past 24 hours.

Memorial Day headcovers from Pine Curtain Customs.

New Memorial Day additions from Bettinardi.

Great shots of Washington County Golf Course courtesy of Garrett Renzelmann.

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Washington County Golf Course ??????

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Memorial Day wedges from The Golf Garage.

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Custom Memorial Day Golf Sub 70 wedges from Wedge FX.

Get hashtagging your golf posts #GolfWRX for your chance to feature in our best of Instagram posts in the future!

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