Are you one of those golfers that has a hard time judging distance? Estimating distance is an important skill in golf. No one likes adding extra shots to their score because they can’t calculate the power they need in their swing.
A golf rangefinder offers newcomers to the game the chance to accurately measure the distance between points. When you have the right distance in mind, you’ll find it easy to gauge the right club for the shot and the amount of power you need to generate in your swing.
Rangefinders are available in many models from leading manufacturers. Regardless of the brand or price tag, the rangefinder serves a single purpose – to measure distance.
What are rangefinders? How much do they cost? What benefits do they bring to your game? Let’s unpack these questions in our guide to this handy golfing accessory.
What are the Types of Golf Range Finders?
- 1 What are the Types of Golf Range Finders?
- 2 How Do I Use a Golf Rangefinder?
- 3 Where Do You Aim the Golf Rangefinder?
- 4 How to Use Golf Rangefinders on Slopes
- 5 Important Notes on Rangefinders for Buyers
- 6 Tips to Improve Golf Rangefinder Stability
- 7 Wrapping Up –What Golf Rangefinder Should I Buy?
Golfing rangefinders are available in three primary designs, laser, optical, and GPS. The rangefinder uses several environmental inputs to accurately calculate the distance on the golf course. Let’s look at the differences between the three rangefinder designs.
These rangefinders utilize light beams to measure distance. They are challenging to aim, requiring a steady hand and plenty of practice to get it right.
The laser rangefinder works best on sunny days with optimal light conditions. It bounces light beans off the target and back to the device, using the time it takes for the light to return to the rangefinder to estimate the distance to the target.
It’s not the best choice for golfers that experience frequent overcast conditions in their geographic region.
- Precise Slope Measurement: Our highly accurate laser rangefinder accounts for elevation changes and measures the angle of incline/decline, then calculates the slope adjusted distance
- Maximum Magnification: Equipped with 6x magnification, our rangefinders for golfing feature a range of 5-1000 yards with +/- 1 yard accuracy and even measure in both yards and meters
- Pin-Locking Technology: Our precise laser measure with Pin Acquisition Technology (P.A.T.) allows you to lock onto a pin up to 300 yards away
- Pulse Confirmation: Our range finder will emit a short vibrating "burst" when the laser locks onto the pin to confirm you have the correct distance
- External Slope On/Off Switch: Legal for tournament play
The optical rangefinder is the least user-friendly model in the design range. These rangefinders rely on the user focusing on the target with one eye open and the other closed.
You’ll use the height of the pin to determine the distance with a simple calculation according to the manufacturers’ specs.
- The most cost-effective rangefinder you can find on the market to provide you reliable performance for golfing, hunting, bowhunting, and other professional application. Both models have slope functions. The slope switch is for tournament legal.
- Provide high-precision distance measurement. Integrates latest functions such as continuous range readings, ARC (angle range compensation), Pin-Seeking and Flagpole-Locking Vibration (Vibrate when the flagpole is locked), and Speed Measuring
- Measuring range from 5 to 650 yards, with +/- 1m high accuracy and 6x magnification. The flagpole locking function supports a distance up to 150 yards (Flagpole only) and 250 yards (Aim the flag when it's unfolded). Our rangefinder can meet most user’s needs
- Fully multi-coated optics lenses effectively reduce reflected light and increase the transmission of light giving you a brighter clear image. The diopter is adjustable for precise focus on display
- TOURNAMENT LEGAL: The "MTL" version features a slope switch that can let you turn off the slope function anytime you want, making your tournament legal.
The GPS rangefinder is the most user-friendly option, and it offers the best accuracy. Golf GPS rangefinders use the GPS satellite system to accurately measure the distance from your location to anywhere on the course.
However, GPS golf rangefinders are usually the most expensive models. You’ll also need to ensure you get a rangefinder from a brand offering maps of courses in your area.
- Precise Distance Measurement: Our highly accurate golf range finder is preloaded with over 38,000 global course maps; features auto course recognition, auto hole-advance and individual shot distance measurement for a better golfing experience
- Accurate Distance Display: The golf distance finder displays yardage in 2 different ways: front, center and back display; or a new, simple mode that displays yardage to the center of the green only, with front and back distances on the next screen
- Score Card Tracker: Keeps track of scorecard, GIR and PPR; features a universal micro USB charging port and a water-resistant body ideal for wet weather
- Magnetic Hold: Our golf rangefinder with an easy-to-read external LCD display features a powerful integrated magnet, allowing you to mount the laser to any cart frame for ultra-convenient access
How Do I Use a Golf Rangefinder?
All three rangefinders come with different operating procedures. Read the instruction manual before taking the rangefinder to the course.
Laser, GPS, and optical rangefinders have unique designs and operations, with some offering different features than others. Let’s unpack everything you need to know about using each model.
A Brief User Guide to Laser Rangefinders
Turn on the rangefinder. Check the mode matches the playing environment. For example, many models have independent settings for calculating distance on slopes. Others may have modes for different lighting conditions.
After adjusting the device, check you can see clearly through the viewing window.
Track the target through the rangefinder window and center it using the viewing tools.
Press the capture button on the rangefinder, and the device calculates the distance, displaying it in the rangefinder window or on the display panel.
The light beam operation of the laser finder means that it’s more accurate in good lighting. If you’re aiming in low-light conditions, look to track reflective items for best results. Some golf courses attach reflective tabs to the top of flagsticks on the course.
A Brief User Guide to Optical Rangefinders
Optical rangefinders are less common due to their unfriendly user function. However, they are useful in calculating accurate distances on the golf course.
To use an optical model, look through the rangefinder window and adjust the focus knobs on sight to clarify the picture.
Most optical rangefinders require you to manually estimate the distance using a height measurement in the rangefinder window. As a result, they’re less accurate.
A Brief User Guide to GPS Rangefinders
GPS rangefinders work by calculating the distance from your exact GPS coordinates to the target. When purchasing your rangefinder, it usually comes preloaded with maps, and you have the option to upgrade the maps or ad-on other maps for golfing locations around the globe.
After ensuring you have the right map, the device automatically calculates your position, issuing you with data through the onboard screen.
Select the target and get the reading on the slope and distance. The GPD rangefinder offers the best accuracy of the three models, but it also has the steepest price tag.
Where Do You Aim the Golf Rangefinder?
If you’re on the fairway and see the pin, that’s your target. However, there are those times when you can’t see the flag, so aim at another target close to where you want the ball to land and work out the difference.
Tracking distance becomes more important as you dial in your equipment and swing. As a beginner, you’ll spend the first few years trying to figure out these elements of the game. So, distance isn’t as important, and if you have to aim off target, a difference of a few feet isn’t going to matter much to your overall score.
However, it’s important to note that your aiming technique needs constant refinement. Like your swing, it takes time to master. Here are the methods for aiming the rangefinder from the tee and the approach.
Aiming from the Tee
Most players will benefit from using the rangefinder on those par fours and fives. Just because you can’t see the tee doesn’t mean you can’t use the rangefinder to calculate distance and improve the outcome of your shot.
Use the rangefinder to measure distances to objects along the fairway and around the tee. This strategy familiarizes your brain with accurate distances. It improves your mind-movement connection when adding the right amount of power into your swing.
It only takes a few seconds to complete this exercise, and you’ll find it has a big effect on improving your game. Try to hot the trees, bunkers, and other objects with the rangefinder to get a lay of the landscape before making your shot at the tee. It also allows the rangefinder to learn the landscape.
Rangefinders with settings to account for slope can accurately measure distance along uneven fairways and up or down hills. By understanding and familiarizing yourself with distance on the course, you’ll find it impacts your club choices and strategy for the hole and the game.
Maybe it’s better to tee off with the 3-wood than the big dog on this hole? The rangefinder gives you the data you need to make better decisions around your game in real-time. The more you practice with your rangefinder, the faster you become familiar with how to gauge distance in your mind. You’ll find that after a few sessions with the rangefinder, your realistic estimation of distance vastly improves.
Aiming Your Approach Shots
When aiming your approach shots in situations where you can hit the green, take time to assess the landscape. It pays to spend a few minutes getting a lay of the land with your rangefinder like the tee shot. Don’t snap the yardage and head straight into the shot. Take your time.
Beginners to the game need to focus more on avoiding making mistakes than making the perfect shot with every swing. Measure the distance to the front and back of the green and note the distances to surrounding objects like bunkers and trees.
After measuring the distance and assessing the lay of the land:
- Make your shot with the intention of landing on the green.
- Don’t focus on the pin.
- Concentrate on getting it onto the green instead.
How to Use Golf Rangefinders on Slopes
Golf courses aren’t flat terrain. They have hills and slopes and obstacles throughout the playing area. Every beginner golfer understands the importance of measuring distance on a slope, and many find it challenging to do it accurately.
Variations in elevations along the course create different surfaces affecting the ball’s travel. Many GPS and laser rangefinders allow the golfer to adjust the rangefinder to accommodate the slope in the measurement.
When encountering a slope on the course, choose the correct setting on the rangefinder and aim the device at the target.
Make sure you’re standing with your hips and shoulders parallel to your target.
Use the adjustment settings to resolve the picture in the rangefinder window and receive an accurate measurement.
After clicking the button to calculate the straight line distance to the target, aim the device at the floor and press the button again.
The second press of the button helps the device measure the slope angle.
Important Notes on Rangefinders for Buyers
It’s important to note that most rangefinders have distance limitations, usually around the 400 to 600-yard mark. The more expensive models have the longest ranges, but plenty of affordable models do the job well.
The premium models can measure distances up to 1,000-yards, and they have a portable, compact, lightweight design. It’s important to think about accessibility when purchasing your rangefinder. Look for small models with slimline form factors that easily tuck away on your golf bag and retrieve when you need it.
Some models come with IPX waterproof ratings to prevent damage to the unit if it gets wet. It’s also important to look at the manufacturer’s warranty when selecting your rangefinder.
Some golfers might balk at the sight of the price tags on some GPS golf rangefinders. However, it’s important to remember that this is a one-off purchase, and your rangefinder will last you for years. Don’t be afraid to spend a bit of money on your device.
Tips to Improve Golf Rangefinder Stability
One of the biggest hassles for golfers learning to use the rangefinder is keeping the device steady. Having shaky hands disrupts the viewfinder and the ability of the device to accurately measure distance. If you’re having a hard time keeping the rangefinder steady in your hands, pull your elbow to your side to stabilize the view.
Hold the rangefinder in your dominant hand, laying your elbow at the side of your chest. You’ll find your hand stability improves immediately. Take deep breaths when measuring the distance to prevent your body from becoming nervous and shaking.
After you’re confident you have a steady shot, turn on the device and press the button to take the measurement.
Remember to read through the owner’s manual the night before you take the rangefinder to the course for the first time. Trying to figure out how to use it during the game will frustrate your playing partners.
Step out into the yard and test the device. Measure distances to objects around the yard and familiarizes yourself with handling the rangefinder.
Make sure you understand the rangefinder’s functions and modes and how to use them effectively. Once again, this isn’t something you want to try to figure out during matchplay.
If you still have trouble stabilizing the rangefinder, consider using one of your clubs as a tripod. Balance the rangefinder on the top of the grip and kneel down to get an accurate look through the rangefinder.
Wrapping Up –What Golf Rangefinder Should I Buy?
A golf rangefinder offers you a way to accurately gauge distance the next time you’re on the course. Understanding how to measure distance is critically important to your golf game. When you have a good eye for distance, your club selection and swing power alter to provide you with better results.
With the right rangefinder, your golf game will see significant improvement. If you’re thinking about shopping for a golf rangefinder, we recommend looking at the GPS models. You get the best accuracy and user-friendly operation.
It’s also important to check that you choose a rangefinder that measures distance on slopes. Check with the owner’s manual or the specifications before making your purchase. Assess your budget and look at models in your price range. We recommend spending around 5% more than your max budget if you want the best equipment.
If you need help choosing a model, read through our top picks & buyer’s guide here.