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USGA position on smartphone GPSs  

post #1 of 89
Thread Starter 

In another thread someone posted the following quote:

 

 

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.

post #2 of 89

It does appear to be a contradiction to what the rule says.

post #3 of 89

How does it contradict the following?

 

A Committee may establish a Local Rule allowing players to use devices that measure or gauge distance only (see the Note to Rule 14-3). However, the use of a distance-measuring device that is designed to gauge or measure other conditions that might affect a player's play (e.g., gradient, wind speed, temperature, etc) is not permitted regardless of whether such an additional function is used.

 

 

Further, I have just confirmed with the R&A, my post (below) of a couple of months ago.

 

 

I have just received a phone call from the R&A confirming that a non conforming function has to be able to physically measure or gauge the information itself. Viewing or receiving weather related information from the web (say) is OK. 

The only qualification is that a device having the facility to communicate to a non-conforming on-course device, which can measure or gauge (say an anemometer), would render it illegal if also used as a DMD 

 

 


Edited by Rulesman - 3/29/12 at 4:02am
post #4 of 89

I think the previous thread may have gotten sidetracked into the weather app issue, but as Rulesman states, the ability to access a weather app was never an issue with phones as DMDs.

 

The iPhone is illegal as a DMD not because of its weather apps, but because of its compass, and the fact that you can't remove the compass app.

post #5 of 89
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mordan View Post

I think the previous thread may have gotten sidetracked into the weather app issue, but as Rulesman states, the ability to access a weather app was never an issue with phones as DMDs.

 

The iPhone is illegal as a DMD not because of its weather apps, but because of its compass, and the fact that you can't remove the compass app.



Remind me again why a compass is nonconforming?

post #6 of 89

Because the Ruling Bodies say  a compass is considered to be an artificial device 

 

Decision 14-3/4

post #7 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mordan View Post

I think the previous thread may have gotten sidetracked into the weather app issue, but as Rulesman states, the ability to access a weather app was never an issue with phones as DMDs.

 

The iPhone is illegal as a DMD not because of its weather apps, but because of its compass, and the fact that you can't remove the compass app.



Where is this non-removable compass app located on Android phones?  I went through every app on mine, and can find no such app unless you are referring to a GPS navigation app.  The only time I can get a north indication to show on that is if I program a route to somewhere.

 

Turtle, it looks like they fell off the fence in regards to their original position on the subject, which I posted in another thread, even though they generalize everything into "iPhone", which all smartphones certainly are not.  Luckily, my practice course is not rated, so I can't enter scores from rounds played there anyway.  I am still planning on using my golf gps app to track my stats while playing on that particular course though, as 90% of my rounds played are there.

 

 


Edited by moparman426 - 3/30/12 at 1:31pm
post #8 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by moparman426 View Post

Turtle, it looks like they fell off the fence in regards to their original position on the subject, which I posted in another thread, even though they generalize everything into "iPhone", which all smartphones certainly are not. 

 

 



 

Can you point to or give a link to that post please. I'd like to see exactly what the USGA said.

 

 

Edited:

 

I think I've found it but I can'r see where there is any conflict with the line they have always taken nor where they have used 'iPhone' as a generic.

 

Their line has always been that if an app or facility on any device (phone or not) provides a non conforming function, then if the device is used as DMD, the player will be DQd whether or not the illegal function is used or switched off. 

post #9 of 89

You're right, it was the author of the article that was linked that mentioned iPhone and Blackberry specifically.   I wasn't keeping up with the newest ruling for 2012.  I still can't find this non-removable compass app on my phone yet though.  I also think implying that if it is a local rule, it's not a definite yes or no, hence the fence comment.

 

From USGA:

 

"5. Distance-Measuring Devices (Rule 14-3)

During a stipulated round, the use of any distance measuring device is not permitted unless the Committee has introduced a Local Rule to that effect (see Note to Rule 14-3 and Appendix I; Part B; Section 9).

Even when the Local Rule is in effect, the device must be limited to measuring distance only. Features that would render use of the device contrary to the Local Rule include, but are not limited to:

• the gauging or measuring of slope;

• the gauging or measuring of other conditions that might affect play (e.g., wind speed or direction, or other climate-based information such as temperature, humidity, etc.);

• recommendations that might assist the player in making a stroke or in his play (e.g., club selection, type of shot to be played, green reading or any other advice related matter); or

• calculating the effective distance between two points based on slope or other conditions affecting shot distance.

Such non-conforming features render use of the device contrary to the Rules, irrespective of whether or not:

• the features can be switched off or disengaged; and

• the features are switched off or disengaged.

A multi-functional device, such as a smartphone or PDA, may be used as a distance measuring device provided it contains a distance measuring application that meets all of the above limitations (i.e., it must measure distance only). In addition, when the distance measuring application is being used, there must be no other features or applications installed on the device that, if used, would be in breach of the Rules, whether or not they are actually used."

 

 

Does this not mean that if a smartphone does not have the illegal apps installed, it can be used as a GPS distance measuring device?


Edited by moparman426 - 3/30/12 at 11:49pm
post #10 of 89
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rulesman View Post

Because the Ruling Bodies say  a compass is considered to be an artificial device 

 

Decision 14-3/4



Thanks

post #11 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by moparman426 View Post

Does this not mean that if a smartphone does not have the illegal apps installed, it can be used as a GPS distance measuring device?



 

Yes. Providing the Local Rule permitting DMDs at all is in force.

 

Incidentally, a tape measure is a DMD a2_wink.gif

post #12 of 89
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rulesman View Post



 

Yes. Providing the Local Rule permitting DMDs at all is in force.

 

Incidentally, a tape measure is a DMD a2_wink.gif



I remember when, years ago, the penalty for hitting the flag stick was based on proximity to the hole (20 yards seems to spring to mind as the distance, although I wouldn't vouch for it) rather than being off the green, which didn't become the rule until the late 60s. 

 

In the back of Golf Digest there would be these little ads for tape measure of the specific length so players could tell whether or not they could leave the pin in with no penalty risk.

post #13 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by turtleback View Post



I remember when, years ago, the penalty for hitting the flag stick was based on proximity to the hole (20 yards seems to spring to mind as the distance, although I wouldn't vouch for it) rather than being off the green, which didn't become the rule until the late 60s. 



Ready for more info than you wanted?

 

Before1956 - Hitting the flagstick when unattended in the hole from closer than 20 yards (no matter where the ball lies) in stroke play was penalized by 2 strokes.  No penalty in match play.  Hitting an attended flagstick was (and still is) a penalty in either form of play.

 

1956-1968 - No penalty for hitting an unattended flagstick in either form of play. 

 

1968 to present - Penalty only applied if hitting the flagstick when the stroke is played from the putting green, or if the flagstick is attended.  Stroke play - two strokes.  Match play - loss of hole.

 

post #14 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by turtleback View Post

In the back of Golf Digest there would be these little ads for tape measure of the specific length so players could tell whether or not they could leave the pin in with no penalty risk.



Prior to (or without) the LR permitting DMD it was (is)  illegal to use a calibrated measure (eg tape or ruler) to determine who was nearest the pin (in a ntp competition). It had to be done by relative not actual distance.

If the DMD LR is not in force a LR may be made to allow such a measurement.

 

post #15 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by moparman426 View Post



Where is this non-removable compass app located on Android phones? 



I thought he mentioned the non-removable compass as being on the iphone but I might have missed it..    Anyway, there isn't a non-removable compass on my Android phone (Samsung Captivate) or my wife's Android phone either (Motorola Bravo).   If we want a compass app, we would have to download it from the Android Market.  So your Android phone may not have one either.

 

post #16 of 89
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourputt View Post



Ready for more info than you wanted?

 

Before1956 - Hitting the flagstick when unattended in the hole from closer than 20 yards (no matter where the ball lies) in stroke play was penalized by 2 strokes.  No penalty in match play.  Hitting an attended flagstick was (and still is) a penalty in either form of play.

 

1956-1968 - No penalty for hitting an unattended flagstick in either form of play. 

 

1968 to present - Penalty only applied if hitting the flagstick when the stroke is played from the putting green, or if the flagstick is attended.  Stroke play - two strokes.  Match play - loss of hole.

 



Why would you think that is more than I wanted.  I LOVE golf history in any form.  Thanks for posting that, as it was not only interesting but it pretty much confirmed my recollections. 

 

Do you have a library of all of the rule books by year?  That would be cool to have. 

 

I recall reading that back in the day the base rule was that if a ball plugged on the green then it was too bad, and that affected strategy, calling for more run up shots when it had been raining and the green was soft.  But sometimes there would be a local rule allowing the ball to be taken out of the plugged position.  I think that came up during the Ouimet/Vardon/Ray US Open.

post #17 of 89
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rulesman View Post

Because the Ruling Bodies say  a compass is considered to be an artificial device 

 

Decision 14-3/4



Presumably it is illegal because it can be used to tell direction.  But in that case shouldn't an analog dial type wristwatch be prohibited, since with a little knowledge a watch can be used as a compass?

 

Link

 

PS: oops, should have multi-quoted.  Sorry Eric.

post #18 of 89

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by turtleback View Post

Presumably it is illegal because it can be used to tell direction.  But in that case shouldn't an analog dial type wristwatch be prohibited, since with a little knowledge a watch can be used as a compass?


No, because you've crossed into the silly zone. Presumably someone could make a sundial out of their 7-iron, but that's just as silly.

 

I have a watch with a compass on it. I don't wear it except in practice rounds where I mark the location of north on each page of my yardage book/notes.

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