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If you regularly play golf on unfamiliar golf courses or you just need some additional help to determine the exact distance to hazards and the flag, you should consider getting a golf rangefinder.

With the use of a golf rangefinder, you can enhance your game experience while also improving your distance approximation skills and sense of direction that much faster. But with so many brands out there, knowing how to pick the right one should be your priority. And that is what this article is for.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Golf Rangefinder

Bushnell Tour X Laser Golf Rangefinder - accurate and tour approvedLike mentioned above, rangefinders come in many brands. But, if you know what features and specifications to consider, which will be discussed below, then you’ll be able to narrow down your list of potential buys. Here are the factors you need to take into account:

  • Accuracy

A golf rangefinder is a distance measuring device, so it is really not a surprise for accuracy to be a key factor in procuring the right product. Most models are able to measure with precision down to half a yard or one yard. For most golfers this accuracy is sufficient.

  • Interface

Generally, most rangefinders are user-friendly, however, there are still some that manages to stand out due to their simple interface. Some brands will have multiple, yet unnecessary, numbers of buttons, while the few good ones can already find success with just two.

Bushnell Pro X7 Slope Golf Laser Rangefinder with JOLT specifications comparison

  • Visibility

If you can’t see anything with your rangefinder, then it’s practically useless. Golf is naturally susceptible to environmental changes, so having a device that can adapt is advantageous. To elaborate, look for a brand that can give clear results even in less or darker lighting and has an adjustable eye piece, and make sure you get one that is resistant to weather changes.

Since we’re in the topic of visibility, you might also want to consider the magnification of the device. Typically, models vary from 4x magnification capability up to as high as 7x magnification. The higher the better since the more magnification, the easier it is to shoot to certain targets.

  • Weight and Size

The bulk of the rangefinder will mostly depend how stable your hands are and whether you want to use just one hand or both. Most golfers only use one hand to use the golf rangefinder and an ergonomics grip will make this an easy task. Most recent rangefinders are quite compact and can easily be stored in a pocket, in your golf bag or on your golf trolley.

  • Price

Price factor is a no brainer for canvassing for any potential purchases. High quality rangefinders usually ranges around $300-$500, while budget-friendly rangefinder are between $100-$300, so manage your budget beforehand.

  • Extras

Bushnell Tour X Laser Golf Rangefinder slope compensation explainedThere are a lot of extra features that can come in a rangefinder, which will hinge mostly on its brand and cost. Majority of modern brands now comes with features like pin seeker and first target priority. Scan mode and slope measurement are also useful add-ons to have. However, please be aware that some of these bonuses are sometimes barred in certain courses and game setups.

One useful feature of the quality golf rangefinders is the golf club selection feature. The golf rangefinder will advice you a certain golf club to use after you’ve setup the device with your specific details.

What is a golf rangefinder?

A golf rangefinder is a scope-like device used to measure distances in golf. You use it by looking through a lens while the device gives you the distance between your current location and the target ahead. With this data, you’ll stand better chance of successfully gauging which club to use and how much power you need to hit the ball effectively. Golf training is still very important in order to become a technical better golfer, but by using the help of a rangefinder in the golf course, you can concentrate more on your golf technique and not be distracted by guesstimating distances all the time.

There are dozens of golf rangefinder brands (best-known are Bushnell, Leupold, GolfBuddy, Nikon, Callaway), which adds diversity in your options, but it can also be confusing. Features may even vary from model to model, which you should consider if you want to get the best value. Do bear in mind that there are rangefinders other than golf-intended ones, so don’t buy a random rangefinder you find cheaply somewhere but do read the reviews and get the best advice about real golf rangefinders.

Golf rangefinder or golf GPS watch?

Garmin Approach S2 Golf GPS WatchA golf rangefinder is not the same as a golf GPS device. A golf rangefinder uses laser technology to shoot to all targets you can think of (trees, bunkers or the flag) and it will provide you the distance to all these targets. Therefore it is really independent on the golf course or even the exact position of the flag for that day. You don’t need any subscription and you don’t need to download any new database file in order to keep the golf rangefinder up to date.

golf GPS watch or golf GPS handheld will provide you information based on predetermined targets that are saved in the database of the golf GPS brand. Depending on the golf GPS, it might not display all the hazards (targets) of the hole. Maybe the device is only capable of displaying 3 hazards and you could miss out on information. Golf courses do change over time and the golf GPS device will require course library updates once in a while. Also when a new golf course is created, the golf GPS brand will need to go to this golf course and measure all the known targets and store these in the course library file. Therefore is a golf GPS less independent and is limited in the distances it can give you.

When to use golf rangefinders?

Most models can be played in an amateur or non-professional golf game setup. However, competitive settings rarely allows the use of such device, which is not that bad a deal since pro players usually have a personal caddy along to do the job.

In the event that rangefinders do get permitted, normally limited to just certain amateur leagues, there are still some features of the device that are not permissible, such as slope measurement. But then again, if you are just playing for fun and leisure, you won’t have to worry about such restrictions, except for the rules imposed by the establishment you are playing in. 

Also remember, there are no perfect rangefinders, only the right one. And hopefully, by using all these nuggets of information above, you’ll be able to find the best golf rangefinder to suit your needs.