By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) - The PGA of America said on Tuesday it will allow distance-measuring devices to be used during competition at the three major tournaments it operates, including the PGA Championship, in a bid to speed up play.
The policy, which also allows for such devices to be used at the Women's PGA Championship and Senior PGA Championship, will debut with the May 20-23 PGA Championship that will be played at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
"We're always interested in methods that may help improve the flow of play during our Championships," PGA of America President Jim Richerson said in a statement.
"The use of distance-measuring devices is already common within the game and is now a part of the Rules of Golf. Players and caddies have long used them during practice rounds to gather relevant yardages."
According to the PGA of America, the devices allowed can report only on distance and direction. Devices that calculate elevation changes or that suggest a club for a player will not be allowed.
The rule could mean players and caddies spend less time figuring out tricky yardages as they give competitors the ability to zero in on a flagstick or other object in the distance to get a more precise measurement.
The use of such devices had previously been allowed in practice rounds but never during competition on the sport's biggest tours or at its major tournaments.
World number 49 Will Zalatoris, who will be seeking his fifth top-10 finish of the PGA Tour season at this week's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, said he favoured the new rule.
"I'm hoping it helps, I'm all for whatever makes the game faster," Zalatoris told reporters. "I don't really see a downside to it."
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Ken Ferris)