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It's time for blazers to approve lasers; WORLD OF SPORT... WORLD OF SPORT...Technology can be shot in the arm for pro game.


GOLF is suffering a lingering and painful death due to slow play - so why do the game's guardians suppress technology that could aid the patient's recovery?

Backward-thinking disguised as tradition has undermined too many golf establishments over the years.

But when it comes to the burning issue that threatens the sport's long-term health in terms of both participation and commercial appeal, rule makers cannot afford to ignore answers staring them in the face.

Some call them range finders or GPS, the technical moniker is laser or satellite-based Distance Measuring Devices and to those of a certain vintage it's simply "the doofer".

But whatever you call them, these rapid point-and-shoot distance calculators are a key weapon in the fight against slow play and should be rolled out at the highest level to stop paying punters and viewers switching off in their droves. The perfect example came during last Friday's second round of the Australian Open.

Geoff Ogilvy, in the marquee group with Rory McIlroy, stood on the seventh and blasted his drive wildly onto the neighbouring eighth fairway.

The kind of stuff you see from local club hackers toiling in the monthly medal. If only the former US Open champion had indeed been playing in the Aberdour Sunday Sweep.

Then he'd have been able to whip out the DMD, point the laser and within seconds have an accurate yardage to select the right club, play his shot and clear the fairway with the customary sheepish wave at the group who are actually supposed to be on that fairway.

But because Ogilvy is a top professional competing at the elite level of the game, he had to wait. And wait. Everybody did. The first delay was to let the group coming up the eighth play their tee shots, get to their ball, play their next shot and move on.

Fair enough. But what was ridiculous was the next wait while Ogilvy's caddie paced it out from his ball to the fairway and back as they tried to find some reference to gauge how far he still had to go to the green.

By the time he, McIlroy and Matthew Jones holed out they had taken well over 20 minutes to complete the hole. Much of which was taken up by toing and froing that could have been avoided with one simple zap of a laser.

in the last few years in the last few years the word bifurcation has been thrust into the vocabulary of golf writers around the world.

It means splitting one body into two parts, or to put it in golfing terms - one rule for them and another for the rest of us.

In some ways it's a positive thing. This horrible word would make it illegal for pros to compete with an anchored stroke such as a belly putter.

But it would still allow my old man with his shaky hands to enjoy a game without stabbing the ball from one end of the green to the next and back again.

Sometimes it makes sense to alter the rules because, let's face it, half the time these guys at the top play a completely different game from the rest of us.

After all, to Nicolas Colsaerts 470 yards is a driver and a lob wedge. To me it's a four quid ride in a taxi. But with pace of play there is a universal benefit in there is a universal benefit in a DMD free-for-all. a DMD free-for-all.

Around this time last Around this time last year positive steps in the year positive steps in the right direction were taken right direction were taken by the R&A when they by the R&A when they announced the announced the use of range use of range finders would finders would be permitted be permitted in competitive in competitive rounds of all rounds of all amateur events, including the prestigious Amateur Championship.

But it stopped too short by retaining the restriction on professional tournaments including Open qualifying.

Hopefully a decision to relax the rules to accommodate the pro ranks will follow soon because I can't see any harm in it.

Some purists who long for the old days when caddies called a yardage by sight might object at the latest encroachment of technology on the ancient game. But those days are long gone.

Whether a pro has a perfect yardage or not, he must still draw on all his skills to execute the shot properly and take into account elements such as wind and course condition to judge what club to hit and how.

It's a no-brainer. If pros and caddies are permitted to use the gizmos on practice days to map their way around the course what harm can come from allowing them to do the same when the action starts for real?

For the good of the game, it's time the blazers approved the lasers.


OUT OF RANGE Slow play a big yawn to Rory McIlroy Pic: Getty Images

MADE TO WAIT Geoff Ogilvy
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 2, 2014
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