A recent debate at the European Institute of Golf Course Architects AGM about whether “ball finders” should be legalised?
LOST BALL FINDERS
One of the topics at the European Institute of Golf course Architects AGM was a discussion whether new ball finding technology should be legalised. The system which is already used on some driving ranges uses a chip in the ball which sends a signal to a sensor operated by the golfer, leading them straight to the ball, no matter how well hidden (unless submerged under water)
Currently these devices are not allowed but approaches to the R & A are being made to legalise them. After-all distance measurers are now legal (in the amateur game only; professionals have caddies) so why not ball finder technology?
It is argued that ball finders will go a long way in solving slow play issues. No matter where the golf ball finishes, the golfer can walk straight to the ball without any delay and play the shot; the penalty is still the same and what is without doubt the most serious problem in golf (slow play) is sure to be improved upon. This can only be good for the game and its future.
However there is another side to this discussion; the psychology of the game. Ignoring water features; imagine standing on the tee with trees and rough galore either side of the fairway but without a care in the world, because you know that no matter where the ball goes, it will be found. A nice feeling and sure to relax you; a more carefree swing. The result; a better shot or maybe not? Relaxing might mean not properly concentrating and the end result, the need for the ball finder and even when you do find the ball amongst trees or in thick rough, the shot still has to be executed; we are not all Seve Ballesteros.
So in my view, ball finders are an excellent idea and will not dramatically affect the tradition or phycology of the game. In fact, ball finders more than likely will make the game more enjoyable and also help secure the long-term sustainability of golf. It would not be required for professional tournaments (they have caddies and crowds) but certainly if used by the regular golfers one of the main frustrations of the game would no longer ruin a golfers day as well as improving the pace of play.
It may put some of the ball manufacturers out of business but ball finders might well revolutionise the game.