Please allow me a minute while I climb atop my soapbox….

Wasn’t it wonderful when Malcolm Butler engaged his bionic eye to calibrate exactly where the pass was being thrown to make the interception that inevitably won Super Bowl XLIX for the Patriots? Or when Brad Marchand leveraged his nifty robot wrist extenders on his way to a 19-point Stanley Cup winning season? What about Michael Phelps’ third lung installation prior to the ’08 Beijing Olympics where he claimed eight gold medals? Wait a minute…….you’re telling me these pieces of equipment weren’t actually used? Then why the heck is it being embraced in golf?!?!

I have been deeply disturbed by the use of rangefinders in golf since their very inception. Rangefinders, for those of you not familiar, are high-tech gadgets that offer unbelievably accurate distance measurements using lasers. They are small and portable and becoming highly adopted by everyone from beginner golfers to world’s #1 ranked, Scottie Scheffler. There are two main reasons why these devices cause such a visceral reaction for me: 1) since the very early days of golf, courses would provide yardage markers to give you a sense of distance – 250 yards away, 200, 150, 100. Using those markers, it’s up to you to determine how far away you are by either blindly guessing or walking-out the distances by counting steps. My point is, there was a degree of skill to this that has gone by the wayside with the new rangefinders. 2) There is nothing worse than a manufacturedly (yes, not a word) slow round of golf. With these devices becoming more frequently used to ‘shoot’ (pressing a button to send the laser to give a reading) distances in every which way – shooting the pin, the bunker, out of bounds, your buddy’s beer in the golf cart besides you – the game has gotten even slower. What’s worse is 99% of golfers can’t hit precise enough shots to benefit from this extremely accurate data. My blood is boiling as I try to conclude this paragraph.

Which brings me to my conundrum. A couple of my friends from home and I exchange gifts around the holidays and more often than not, they are golf-related. Harry, as seen in the photograph below pretending to teach me how to swing a club. Knowing my stance on rangefinders, he ponied up the dough to buy me the top-of-the-line rangefinder. After I cursed him out and begrudgingly thanked him, we left our favorite breakfast spot (All Night Eggplant in Syracuse, NY) and went our separate ways.

Later on that day I decided to unwrap the gift, install the batteries and do a few test shots around the house. How cool! I can determine precisely how far the Christmas tree is from me on the couch – 7 yards!!!! I say that jokingly, however is was kind of cool. More than kind of cool – I hadn’t been so excited to use a new Christmas gift since elementary school. I excitedly strapped on my rain boots and took Mia for a walk to get a chance to shoot other landmarks around our neighborhood. I shot the Smith’s chimney down the block – 143 yards! The tallest tree in Sherwood Forrest (a small gathering if trees on the corner) – 86 yards. It’s embarrassing how much fun I had shooting these objects on a rainy, raw 38 degree day.

It’s hard to say where my future lies with these rangefinders. But if you happen to be playing behind me and I’m slowing the pace of play by shooting distances similar to my sworn enemies, please do the right thing and run me over with your golf cart.

Happy Holidays!

By Thomas Schulte CFP® Director of Financial Planning Read More