The American Junior Golf Association announced Wednesday that it will not allow distance-measuring devices during its 74 championships this season. This decision came in response to the United States Golf Association’s new entry in its 2006 Decisions on the Rules of Golf giving tournament committees the option of allowing such devices in competition.
The two primary factors in the decision revolved around an unfavorable AJGA membership survey and the AJGA’s concern over equal access to yardage-finding devices.
In an e-mail survey of 283 AJGA members, 54 percent opposed the use of distance-measuring devices during this season’s AJGA tournaments.
“I think finding your yardage is a skill that every junior should learn,” said Arnond Vongvanij, a first-team Rolex Junior All-American who sits on the AJGA Board of Directors as player representative. “To me, it’s an important tradition of the game of golf.”
Another contributing factor involved equity among members. The AJGA did not want to be put in the position of having some players with a device and others without.
“The reality is some individuals have the financial means to afford this piece of technology while others do not,” said AJGA Assistant Executive Director Peter Ripa. “If there was a way to provide a range finder to every player or every group, we would revisit the idea and survey our members again to see if their opinions change.
“We will closely monitor the impact of distance-measuring devices at the collegiate level,” he continued. “At this point, our members have spoken. We will continue to look to those who make up our Association to guide us on the issue.”
The AJGA already takes a number of steps to aid competitors in finding their yardages. At permitting venues, the AJGA Operations staff paints AJGA-logoed stencils in fairways at 100, 150, 200 and 250 yards from the front of the greens. These yardages are measured the days leading up to an event with a laser range finder to ensure accuracy. Each player also receives a detailed hole location sheet prior to the start of their round. The combination of pre-existing course yardages, AJGA stencils and AJGA hole location sheets gives all juniors the ability to determine their yardages.