05 Apr 2006
Tiger Woods warms up for the defense of his US Masters crown this week by winning the Laser Link long drive contest.
Laser Link Golf of the US has developed a handheld laser range finding system to accurately measure the distance to the flag. Using a laser and a retroreflector mounted on the flagstick itself, the golfer simply fires the laser at the flag to measure the distance.
"Golfers really want to know the distance to the flag and the only tool you can really do that with is a laser," Dan Steiner, vice president of Laser Link Golf told optics.org. "Our system is very simple - basically one touch. You press a button and a laser starts pulsing. When it picks up the reflection, it calculates the return time and tells you how far you are from the flag."
At the Tavistock Cup, an exhibition tournament that was held in Florida on 27-28 March, Tiger Woods fired a drive 340 yards to win Laser Link's long drive contest.
The handheld rangefinder uses a class one laser powered by a 9V battery. The other aspect is a retroreflector. "The reflector module contains five retroreflectors embedded in a nylon polymer to give 360 degree coverage," said Steiner. "It's very durable and sits in the top of the flag."
Steiner revealed that the laser system has been accurate to within one or two yards every time during tests. "The only problem comes when it is foggy and the route to the flag becomes obscured," he added. "Rain and wind have never been a problem."
The Laser Link has been adopted by over 1000 US golf courses and the company is optimistic about the future. "For purely getting the distance to the flag - this is the way to go," concluded Steiner. "Caddies find that this helps them in their job. They are able to get better information and faster. At the end of the day, a caddie's job is more than just distance - it's about the conditions as well."