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Smart Phone GPS Now Not Allowed?

post #1 of 272
Thread Starter 

http://gps.about.com/od/sportsandfitness/a/USGA-iPhone-GPS-Ban.htm?rd=1

 

That's what Fred thinks at About GPS:

 

 

Quote:

So, is it even still possible to use a smartphone golf GPS app under local rule? Most smartphones, such as the iPhone, have default weather apps installed, for example. The iPhone's weather app is part of its operating system, and cannot be deleted, so the iPhone is not legal under this ruling. Less obviously, apps such as the default web browsers installed on all smartphones are probably not compliant, since you could look up all types of information on a browser.

 

Further probing of this ruling has revealed that the USGA considers it okay to carry a smartphone on the course with prohibited features, as long as the phone isn't being used. It's okay if it's in your bag or pocket, but not if you're using the smartphone on the course. I have contacted the USGA for its response to the effective smartphone ban caused by this rule, and will update here if additional clarification is provided.

 

What do you think? Did the rules change in 2012? Can smart phone GPS apps be used legally (when sanctioned) or are they now non-conforming?

post #2 of 272

They have gone overboard with the rule on the apps

 

How a weather app is going to help your game is beyond me.

post #3 of 272
Quote:
Originally Posted by camper6 View Post

They have gone overboard with the rule on the apps

 

How a weather app is going to help your game is beyond me.



It tells you wind direction and strength, temperature, humidity, pressure, precipitation, etc. All of those things have a huge effect on your shots, so knowing the exact numbers is a pretty big advantage. If I had a launch monitor and had you hit shots under known conditions, you'd do better than if you had no clue. You can go by feel when on the course, but knowing that kind of precise information makes golf too automatic and takes the weather out of play. 

 

Pros shouldn't have phones in their bag when playing competitively. Seems like golf should be more important than any phone call to them, seeing as it's their job. There's no reason to use any electronic device during a competitive round.

post #4 of 272
Quote:
Originally Posted by LuciusWooding View Post




You can go by feel when on the course, but knowing that kind of precise information makes golf too automatic and takes the weather out of play. 

 

Pros shouldn't have phones in their bag when playing competitively. Seems like golf should be more important than any phone call to them, seeing as it's their job. There's no reason to use any electronic device during a competitive round.

That's right. If only I knew when it was raining I'd be able to make allowances.

 

A weather app on a smart phone that tells you that the wind is blowing into your face at 60 knots and that it's raining essentially takes those conditions out of play.  It makes golf so easy and "automatic", doesn't it?

 

Let's not stop at phones. Pros should not be able to carry car keys or credit cards in their golf bags either becuase their job is to play golf, not think about petrol proces and credit limits.  Imagine if one had a spanner or even a tape measure or a piece of chalk in his bag! I'd have them removed from the PGA Tour if there's even SUSPICION that they have their phone oin their bag. POulter is highest on my list. I actually saw him turn his on after his win in the Australian Masters a couple of weeks back. He even tweeted before the presentation ceremony.

 

BTW - which electronic devices other than the ones already banned in tournament play by pros - i.e. all of them - do you have in mind?


 

 

 

post #5 of 272

So if Tiger Woods was monitoring wind speed, direction, temperature, humidity, and the like through a weather app, you wouldn't mind? That info is too precise and gives too big of an advantage to a pro.

 

If he practiced under known conditions, knew exactly how wind and rain affected his shots (which he does), then knowing the precise conditions take the guesswork out of the shot. It's the same reason yardage isn't measurable, though I find that yardage books are essentially the same.

 

Ever hear someone say they misjudged the wind? You can't do that if you know the exact speed and direction. You can still misplay, but pros will have a measured method to compensate. It'd be like if someone in the gallery told them precisely how far left and right to aim, and what club to hit. Aside from their caddies, who have no more background information than they do, that's not allowed. Judging those conditions during a round is a part of the game.

 

It would be a pretty small step from allowing apps like that to allowing the pro to see the simulated putting line they show on TV. Most putts that are missed are due to misreading on tour.

 

As for your lengthy digression into the absurd, I'd say it bears no merit. Most pros don't drive themselves to the course, many have drivers, so there's no reason to have keys in there. As for credit cards, I'd think they'd be in the player's wallet, not the bag. If anything, I'd prefer the players not to have the wrenches for adjusting drivers with them, but tape measures aren't a big deal. Club shafts have been traditionally used to measure short distances. Chalk could be applied to club faces which is cheating, and I can't think of any legal uses for it. All of this crap should be cleaned out of their bags prior to the round. No reason for it to be in there during a tourney.

 

I can't see a reason to allow phones. They can be used illegally a million different ways, and there are no legit uses in a competitive round. And it's also bad etiquette. A player can be disqualified for having 15 clubs accidentally in the bag, so why shouldn't they remove all their practice equipment?

post #6 of 272


You are being ridiculous. Even if you knew the wind at your ball, trees and other obstacles provide shelter from the wind so quite often the conditions at the flag are quite different than at your ball. Having any sort of practice aid in your bag during a round does not make a difference since you actually dont use it....

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LuciusWooding View Post

So if Tiger Woods was monitoring wind speed, direction, temperature, humidity, and the like through a weather app, you wouldn't mind? That info is too precise and gives too big of an advantage to a pro.

 

If he practiced under known conditions, knew exactly how wind and rain affected his shots (which he does), then knowing the precise conditions take the guesswork out of the shot. It's the same reason yardage isn't measurable, though I find that yardage books are essentially the same.

 

Ever hear someone say they misjudged the wind? You can't do that if you know the exact speed and direction. You can still misplay, but pros will have a measured method to compensate. It'd be like if someone in the gallery told them precisely how far left and right to aim, and what club to hit. Aside from their caddies, who have no more background information than they do, that's not allowed. Judging those conditions during a round is a part of the game.

 

It would be a pretty small step from allowing apps like that to allowing the pro to see the simulated putting line they show on TV. Most putts that are missed are due to misreading on tour.

 

As for your lengthy digression into the absurd, I'd say it bears no merit. Most pros don't drive themselves to the course, many have drivers, so there's no reason to have keys in there. As for credit cards, I'd think they'd be in the player's wallet, not the bag. If anything, I'd prefer the players not to have the wrenches for adjusting drivers with them, but tape measures aren't a big deal. Club shafts have been traditionally used to measure short distances. Chalk could be applied to club faces which is cheating, and I can't think of any legal uses for it. All of this crap should be cleaned out of their bags prior to the round. No reason for it to be in there during a tourney.

 

I can't see a reason to allow phones. They can be used illegally a million different ways, and there are no legit uses in a competitive round. And it's also bad etiquette. A player can be disqualified for having 15 clubs accidentally in the bag, so why shouldn't they remove all their practice equipment?



 

post #7 of 272
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post


What do you think? Did the rules change in 2012? Can smart phone GPS apps be used legally (when sanctioned) or are they now non-conforming?



As far as I've understood there is no change, most (if not all) smartphones are prohibited.

 

As far as weather app is concerned, my iPhone has one but I have had no use of it at all, not even outside golf course. On the other hand, the compass has been of great value during practice rounds. Before I start a round I check the wind direction from the web and write it down (eg. S-W). Once I am in a place where wind is directed by the trees or hills I can use the compass to check what is the actual wind direction up there where my ball will fly after the stroke.

 

I have said this before and say it again: the ruling bodies are buried so deep in the past reg this issue that they should quickly wake up. Smartphones are only going to gain more terrain and more and more apps will come. It is ridiculous to ban an equipment that can be and constantly is used for keeping score by millions of golfers around the world. Also GPS distance measuring is becoming more and more common with low-cost apps available to everyone. There is no way any Rule will ever prohibit cheating because if someone wants to cheat he will find a way. At some point players should be given the choice as most golfers are responsible people with high integrity in the game of golf.

post #8 of 272

I use GolfShot on my iPhone for yardages and to keep score during social rounds. I don't use any of the device's other functions (including and especially voice communication a2_wink.gif) on the course and I don't give a toss what the rule making bodies say. I'm deriving no advantage that is not available to any other player willing to spring for a SkyCaddie or rangefinder and my conscience is fine with that. As Ignorant notes, this is an issue that needs to be revisited soon by the USGA and R&A. They are pissing into the wind on this one.

post #9 of 272

Weather is so variable with terrain that the app would be very misleading other than general information.  It is not updated often enough by the NWS to be useful (every 15 min and hour normally except for radar).  If you look at the weather report right before a round, you can get a general idea of wind direction and speed and if a T-storm is coming, the humidity and barometric pressure, but that is about all that is useful.  It's not like the app has a anemometer and barometer on it.

 

We've all been on the course and seen the flag blowing one way and the wind at the tee coming from the other way.  We need to trust our eyes.

 

If they want to ban GPS and rangefinders in the future, then I suggest they require courses to put up better markings on the course.  If we knew the distance with local markings, then we wouldn't need GPS or rangefinders would we?

 

This being said, I don't have a smartphone, just a regular cell phone.  I keep it in my bag for emergencies and don't use it at all when I play.

post #10 of 272
Thread Starter 

I'm inclined to say that those of you who think knowing wind speed and direction doesn't help much apparently haven't played competitive golf at a reasonably high level.

 

Pros (or the caddies, typically) will almost always note the wind speed and direction when they're in the clear (often on the range, where there are no trees). They'll compare it to an app oftentimes. They have north or a compass marked on each hole, and given that golf balls typically reach 80-100 feet in height and that the dominant wind condition will take over there because there aren't that many trees which are ten stories tall, the dominant wind condition and speed is a vital piece of information. Absolutely.

 

You can't look at the flag to see what the wind is doing with a high level of confidence. Who cares what the "wind" is doing in the lowest 10 feet or even 20 feet off the ground? The ball is in that area for about 0.3 seconds of its flight. Good golfers look at the tops of the trees or flags well up in the air, factor that in to what they know from their last look at the wind in an open area, and arrive at a conclusion. The flag is virtually meaningless (except as a psychological toy).

 

There's one hole in particular at Whispering Woods where the wind is often the dominant wind - left to right - but the way the trees lay out it'll feel into your face or downwind almost every time you tee it up. It's not. You need to play the wind to push your ball to the right if it's the dominant wind that day. Tall trees, too... but only 35-40 feet or so. Maybe not even that.

 

Anyway, the guy was asking a question, not necessarily saying definitively that the rules changed.

 

post #11 of 272

If they are going to ban weather apps, then they might just as well ban all golf GPSs and yardage books because knowing the exact yardage is just as much, "cheating" as is knowing exactly what the wind speed and direction is.

post #12 of 272

USGA is really going to have to think this through.  I know the goal is to have the same rules for amateurs as pro's but it appears that it's getting more difficult for them to do so as discussions about new golf ball regulations and Smart Phones will begin to heat up.  I'm a business owner, even when I'm golfing I need to have access to my phone to check e-mail and take an emergency call.  If I'm reading this correctly, if I take my iPhone out to check e-mail and it has an app that is considered phohibited (weather, compass, altimeter) then I can't count that round toward handicap?  I don't see how that's going to hold up given one of the key demographics for golf is business people. 

post #13 of 272

What is cheating is more defined by tradition than actual benefit. As Eric points out knowing the wind is a big help and it is illegal to have an app tell you that. But you can have a Caddie tell you all sorts of local knowledge (i.e. how the wind swirls on holes, breaks on greens, where to place the ball in the fairway,...) that is at least as valuable.  

 

It really depends on what you consider a golf skill is. Ball striking and hitting a putt the speed and direction you want are definitely skills. Is determing yardage the same? Right now it is split as you can get the distance but not elevation changes or wind measurements. When putting right now I am not aware of any maps that tell you the exact break for a given hole position and point on  the green (in theory these are possible) so reading the greens is important. Would the game be the same if for every putt you knew the exact break needed?

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by TitleistWI View Post

If they are going to ban weather apps, then they might just as well ban all golf GPSs and yardage books because knowing the exact yardage is just as much, "cheating" as is knowing exactly what the wind speed and direction is.



 

post #14 of 272
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

I'm inclined to say that those of you who think knowing wind speed and direction doesn't help much apparently haven't played competitive golf at a reasonably high level.



I wouldn't say it wouldn't help, but I will say there's no way an app is going to give you any usable information. Weather info is given by zip code or city, which isn't specific enough to possibly be accurate for an area in which a golf shot.of 300 yards or less is made. Local terrain can cause the wind to have a much different speed and direction than the prevailing winds reported by the weather service. 

post #15 of 272
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TitleistWI View Post

If they are going to ban weather apps, then they might just as well ban all golf GPSs and yardage books because knowing the exact yardage is just as much, "cheating" as is knowing exactly what the wind speed and direction is.


Distance has always been considered public knowledge. Which way and how strong the wind is blowing is not. It's that simple.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by newtogolf View Post

USGA is really going to have to think this through.  I know the goal is to have the same rules for amateurs as pro's but it appears that it's getting more difficult for them to do so as discussions about new golf ball regulations and Smart Phones will begin to heat up.  I'm a business owner, even when I'm golfing I need to have access to my phone to check e-mail and take an emergency call.  If I'm reading this correctly, if I take my iPhone out to check e-mail and it has an app that is considered phohibited (weather, compass, altimeter) then I can't count that round toward handicap?

 

Rounds counted towards handicaps are under different (looser) rules. Before rangefinders were made "legal" (under conditions of the competition) you could use them all you wanted in "handicap rounds."

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sacm3bill View Post

I wouldn't say it wouldn't help, but I will say there's no way an app is going to give you any usable information. Weather info is given by zip code or city, which isn't specific enough to possibly be accurate for an area in which a golf shot.of 300 yards or less is made. Local terrain can cause the wind to have a much different speed and direction than the prevailing winds reported by the weather service. 


It can help, and I've given a scenario in which it does every time on one particular hole. And WeatherBug lets you choose the reporting station. Oftentimes you can choose one very close to you. Terrain doesn't affect the wind as much as you seem to think it does, and when it does, again, it's often only in the 20 feet off the ground.

 

Again, IF THE GUY IS EVEN RIGHT ABOUT THIS (and he may not be), the USGA would simply be drawing a line in the sand or whatnot about saying "some skill at judging conditions is required and part of the game of golf."

 

If you play in tournaments, then get a GPS. They're not that expensive these days. Borrow one from a friend. Go without... who cares?

 

IF this is correct, and smart phones have effectively been banned, I support that decision. Who knows what the guy I'm playing against is doing on his phone, and while golf is a game of integrity, I shouldn't have to peer over a guy's shoulder to make sure he has the integrity I'd expect of a golfer.

post #16 of 272
Quote:
Originally Posted by TitleistWI View Post

If they are going to ban weather apps, then they might just as well ban all golf GPSs and yardage books because knowing the exact yardage is just as much, "cheating" as is knowing exactly what the wind speed and direction is.

Weather apps are banned.
 

 

post #17 of 272
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shorty View Post

Weather apps are banned.


Good catch (and good point).

post #18 of 272

People are on their phones too much anyway. The golf course is the only place one can reasonably expect to be rid of them these days, and people are still using them. I don't care if you use a phone for emergencies, or to make quick calls. Just don't do it if you golf for a living. 

 

The pros have circumvented the whole yardage thing with the books, amateurs on a new course will have no clue what to hit because they didn't do a week of preparation. I think allowing yardage books is a stupid exception to the rule, if they don't allow rangefinders. Using GPS and weather apps in a casual round doesn't bother me one bit, but remember that the governing bodies care mostly about pro competition and don't legislate in any way to benefit casual golfers.

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