If you had taken a break from the game of golf over the past 10 or 15 years, you would simply be shocked to find how much has changed upon your return. Of course, clubs look quite different than they did a decade ago, with the ability to adjust everything from weights and lofts to shafts. Golf apparel has shifted toward a more athletic look as well. Golf shoes are far removed from where they were around the turn of the century. One part of the game that has also changed how distances are measured.
Walking off your distances used to be a necessary part of playing the game, as you would find a yardage on a nearby sprinkler head and then pace off yardage to your ball in order to get a final number. Was it highly accurate? No. It was the only option, until technology changed things.
Two Modern Approaches
There are generally two categories of golf rangefinders – GPS units, and laser rangefinders. There are plenty of golfers who swear by each, and you will find that laser rangefinders and GPS devices have their own strengths and weaknesses.
If you are getting ready to purchase a golf distance finder we’ve put together some information to help you find the best golf rangefinder to add to your bag.
If you are looking for simplicity, the laser rangefinder is going to be the way to go. To use it you hold it in your hand, look through the viewfinder to select a target, and press a button to get your yardage. While it might take a little bit of practice to get consistent at ‘hitting’ your target with the rangefinder, you should pick up that skill after just a few uses.
There are several benefits to using a rangefinder, beyond just the simplicity of the unit. Rangefinders are also extremely accurate, so you can count on the yardage you receive as being the right one time after time. Also, since they are completely self-contained, there is no need to pay for an ongoing subscription as you may have to do with a GPS.
The one notable drawback to using a laser rangefinder is the fact that you need to have a physical object to ‘bounce’ the laser off of in order to get a distance. For example, if you are trying to figure out how far to hit your tee shot, and there is nothing around the fairway to use, it might be difficult to use your rangefinder effectively. This is not an issue on approach shots, however, as you will just use the pin itself to retrieve your yardage.
Handheld GPS Units
This class of devices is the main competition for laser rangefinders, as most golfers will typically pick either one or the other. Rather than using a laser to measure the distance between yourself and your selected target, a GPS unit will use satellites to determine how far you are away from any given point on the course. Often a GPS unit will be used to measure the distance to the center of the green, but most are capable of picking out any spot that you choose.
The advantage of using a GPS to get your distances is the fact that you don’t have to do anything at all. Since the satellites are working in the background, you can just glance down at the display and you will have a yardage waiting for you. Unless you want to adjust the point on the course that you are measuring, you can mostly leave your GPS alone while playing a round of golf.
Of course, there are some drawbacks with going in this direction. For one thing, GPS devices are not quite as accurate as rangefinders, so you may notice some inconsistencies from time to time. Also, some GPS units require a subscription to keep the course information up-to-date, so that is a potential cost to factor into your decision.
GPS Watches, Smartphone Apps
Also GPS-driven, however GPS Watches and Smartphone Apps deliver the information to you in a slightly different manner. Obviously, a GPS watch is strapped onto your wrist as you play, so you can look down at any time to check your yardage. The display on these devices is smaller than it is on other GPS options, but the convenience is hard to beat. Also, many of these watches are stylish enough to wear around as an everyday watch when you aren’t on the course.
If you don’t want to buy a whole new device simply to measure your yardages, you can consider simply getting an app for your existing smartphone. There are a variety of smartphone apps available for this purpose – both paid and free – so you should be able to find one that meets your needs nicely. While it is great to save money by not having to purchase a whole device strictly for distance measuring, it can be somewhat inconvenient to have to access your phone prior to each shot.
With so many great options available, it would be a mistake to hit the course without one of the distance measuring options close at hand. Having an accurate yardage for all of your shots is one of the keys to playing good golf, yet many amateurs take this point for granted. Pick up either a rangefinder or GPS, learn how to use it correctly, and look forward to lower scores!