Not wanting to appear obstreperous, let me just be plain spoken:
Rule 14 defines "artificial device" and then says the player who uses one to assist in his play is DQ'd. No exception applies. Fairly simple.
Except as provided in the Rules, during a stipulated round the player must not use any artificial device or unusual equipment (see Appendix IV for detailed specifications and interpretations), or use any equipment in an unusual manner:
a. That might assist him in making a stroke or in his play; or
b. For the purpose of gauging or measuring distance or conditions that might affect his play;
1. A player is not in breach of this Rule if (a) the equipment or device is designed for or has the effect of alleviating a medical condition, (b) the player has a legitimate medical reason to use the equipment or device, and (c) theCommittee is satisfied that its use does not give the player any undue advantage over other players.
2. A player is not in breach of this Rule if he uses equipment in a traditionally accepted manner.
The Decisions say:
Booklet Providing Distances Between Various Points
Q.A booklet contains illustrations of the holes on a course, including isolated trees, bunkers, etc. Superimposed on each illustration is a yardage scale in increments of ten yards. Thus, a player using such a booklet can estimate how far his ball lies from a putting green or a tee. Is use of such a booklet during a round contrary to Rule 14-3?
A.No. Although such a booklet is an artificial device, its use has been traditionally accepted and Exception 2 to Rule 14-3 applies.
Electronic Device Providing Distances Between Various Points
Q.With regard to Decision 14-3/5, may a player use an electronic device containing the same information?
Use of Electronic Devices
As provided in the Etiquette Section, players should ensure that any electronic device taken onto the course does not distract other players.
The use of an electronic device such as a mobile phone, hand-held computer, calculator, television or radio is not of itself a breach of Rule 14-3. For example, the following uses of an electronic device during a stipulated round are not a breach of the Rules:
- Using the device for matters unrelated to golf (e.g., to call home);
- Using the device to access information on advice-related matters that was produced prior to the start of the player's round (e.g., an electronic yardage book, swing tips);
- Using the device to access (but not interpret or process) playing information from previous rounds (e.g., driving distances, individual club yardages, etc); or
- Using the device to obtain information related to the competition being played (e.g., the leader board or projected "cut").
However, examples of uses of an electronic device during a stipulated round that are a breach of Rule 14-3, for which the penalty is disqualification, include:
- Using the device (e.g., a television or radio) to watch or listen to a broadcast of the competition being played;
- Using the device to ask for or give advice in breach of Rule 8-1(e.g., calling a swing coach);
- Using the device to access information on advice-related matters that was not produced prior to the start of his round (e.g., analysis of strokes made during that round); or
- Using the device to interpret or process any playing information obtained from current or previous rounds (e.g., driving distances, individual club yardages, etc) or to assist in calculating the effective distance between two points (i.e., distance after considering gradient, wind speed and/or direction, temperature or other environmental factors).
An electronic "artificial device" is just as much an artificial device as a booklet. neither a yardage book nor an electronic device may be used to gauge or determine how to play gradient or elevation change.
So what is an aimpoint booklet? Clearly is it an artificial device. Clearly it has not been traditionally accepted, since a) it's new, and b) only YARDAGE books and plumb bobbing have been traditionally accepted by the USGA.
Does the aimpoint chart assist a player in his play? Sure it does, and that's what the proponents claim it does, and that's how and why they sell it. The aimpoint chart helps the player figure out the break and the start line and the pace of the putt. Basically, the aimpoint chart calculates this for the player and then writes it down so the player can use it to figure out the break. Any dissenters on this? I didn't think so.
Anyone who has any experience or skill at reading and applying rules knows how this comes out. Unless you ignore the plain meaning of words or willfully twist meanings to suit yourself, the use of aimpoint charts in a stipulated round violates the Rules of Golf as written.
So then the question arises why Dick Rugge would approve this form of Rules violation. The answer is a) Dick Rugge is gone now, and b) people like that make goofs all the time at the USGA (i.e., the recent Masters snafu), c) Rugge was not "the Committee" that decides Rules questions, and d) Rugge was not the USGA either.
At a more fundamental level, SHOULD a golfer want to use an artificial device to read a putt? In my humble opinion, that basically means you don't want to play the game with skill, but with crutches. So what if you COULD use it, according to some goofy decision by a products-approval guy -- should you? Of course not, because it not the sport you chose to play by skill.
Analysis of the Rules isn't near as cloudy and iffy as poor analysis makes it out to be. It's just common sense. Golf is a skill sport, not a sport involving who gets the better artificial devices to tell them what to do.
I argue, because golf needs protecting from people who think using artificial devices to substitute for one golfer's lack of skills when playing against other golfers not using similar artificial devices has nothing wrong with it. Now that's just dumb.
Glad to Discuss Anything Anytime -- if you can stand it.