For those that are not familiar with AimPoint, it is a popular system, apparently used by a number of Tour golfers, designed to assist players with their putting, by applying their estimates of distance, level of the green at the mid-point of the putt and the grade of slope on either side, to reference charts, so as to determine an actual distance number/break for them to play.
In my opinion, use of AimPoint on the course does not breach any Rule of Golf. Those that disagree (yes, there are some) suggest that the charts may breach either Rule 8-1 -Advice, or Rule 14-3 - Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Unusual Use of Equipment. Rule 8-1 does not seem to be relevant, as it deals with asking for or giving advice to a person, as evidenced by all the Decisions on that Rule. This is the wording of Rule 8-1;
During a stipulated round, a player must not:So, that leaves us with Rule 14-3. Let me first establish that AimPoint charts are a player’s equipment which, as the Definition confirms, includes anything worn or carried by the player. The charts are also artificial devices, similar to that described in Decision 14-3/5;
a. give advice to anyone in the competition playing on the course other than his partner, orb. ask for advice from anyone other than his partner or either of their caddies.
Q. A booklet contains illustrations of the holes on a course, including isolated trees, bunkers, etc. Superimposed on each illustration is a yardage scale in increments of ten yards. Thus, a player using such a booklet can estimate how far his ball lies from a putting green or a tee. Is use of such a booklet during a round contrary to Rule 14-3?Exception 2 to Rule 14-3 states;
A. No. Although such a booklet is an artificial device, its use has been traditionally accepted and Exception 2 to Rule 14-3 applies.
A player is not in breach of this Rule if he uses equipment in a traditionally accepted manner.In my opinion, numbers and diagrams written on a piece of paper (or stored electronically) can be considered as a sophisticated extension of the type of information that many players and caddies pre-prepare before an important round, or in other words, traditionally accepted aids.
There are two other Rules considerations relating to the use of AimPoint and similar green reading systems; touching the line of putt and undue delay. Decision 16-1a/12 clarifies that a player may not intentionally walk on their line of putt;
Q. A player walked on his line of putt. Did he incur a penalty for a breach of Rule 16-1a?So, a player may not stand anywhere on their line of putt, which incidentally includes a “reasonable distance” on either side of the line. This seems to diminish the potential accuracy of the data that could be obtained about the line of putt, as the player must walk away from the intended line of putt. Walking alongside the intended line of putt could also be detrimental to the lines of fellow competitors, or opponents, faced with similar putts, or putts that transverse the line being walked, which at the very least is a breach of common etiquette on the greens.
A. Yes, if he did so intentionally. No, if he did so accidentally and the act did not improve the line.
With regard to undue delay, the use of the charts is inevitably going to take some additional time. I am not suggesting that a player should be penalised for occasional instances of spending time working out a line of putt using this method, especially if it is done whilst others are making their strokes. But if players habitually take extra time over their putts to apply this method I think that a Committee would be justified in warning them that this practice was causing an unacceptable delay to the play of their fellow competitors, which could result in penalties or sanctions. I am sure that I am not the only golfer that thinks that slow play is already one of the biggest problems facing the future of our game.
(Edit 1st May 2015: Several readers have pointed out that the original AimPoint system has been modified to a less complicated and easier to use version, marketed as AimPoint Express. My concerns remain.)
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