In another thread someone posted the following quote:
"In the case of multi-function and smartphone devices that can run golf GPS apps, such as the iPhone and BlackBerry, the ruling is more complex, but it is clear. Some have interpreted the 2009 USGA/R&A Joint Statement to mean that multi-function devices that may include phone, Web-browser, and weather app capability, are not permitted for competition under any circumstances.
That is not the case, says Carter Rich, equipment standards manager for the USGA Test Center, based in Far Hills, New Jersey. For example, use of a conforming golf GPS app on an iPhone or BlackBerry is allowed when the local rule permitting use of such apps is in effect, with some qualifiers.
These fall into two categories:
1. Resident functions normally found on smartphones, such as web browsers, and calling capability.
2. Golf-specific apps or other apps that might assist the player in making a stroke or in his or her play.
Even though a golfer could potentially open a weather site via a Web browser during competition, Rich says, the rules do not prohibit the use of a Web browser-equipped smartphone in competition. There are other, permitted uses for a Web browser, such as checking e-mail, for example (don’t do that in my foursome, though!). As with many rules of golf, it’s up to the golfer to stay within the rules with these capabilities on devices in his or her possession during competition.
The same is true for phone calling capability, for example. “It’s fine to call your family and let them know you’ll be late for dinner. But calling your coach for swing tips is of course not permitted under the Rules of Golf,” says Rich.
Regarding specific apps, there are some that you may not have on your device, whether you use them or not. For example, green slope-reading capability is not permitted on dedicated GPS or laser rangefinders, nor is it permitted on smartphones and other multi-function electronic devices, says Rich. Simply having a green-slope reading app or functionality on your device is enough to make it non-conforming, and to disqualify the golfer.
However, a conforming golf GPS smartphone app that provides distances is still permitted."
This is a lot different than what we were hearing just a few weeks ago when we had an extensive thread on exactly this issue. I've asked the person who posted the quote for a reference to where it came from. It seems like a much more common sense approach than what was being said before but I'd like to see the quote in context. I would specifically like to see if there is any list of the type of specific apps that would make the phone non-conforming.
But it sounds to me like either we were misunderstanding the USGA's position or they have changed their position.