golf range finder guideAre you considering buying a golf range finder? In this article, we have compiled a list of features we consider most relevant when you are looking to buy a golf rangefinder. We cover some basic requirement first then look at more refined targeting modes and their purpose.

Then we show you the results of our market survey and produce a selection of recommended golf rangefinders from different manufacturers and price points.

Finally, we point out some common questions about golf rangefinders that golfers often talk about and we give you our answers.

Accuracy

To improve as a golfer you more accuracy in your estimated range to target and in the yardage you can deliver in your shots. A rangefinder, when used correctly, delivers much more accuracy than we as golfers can eyeball. This is the number one criteria we rely on in a golf range finder. Almost all modern quality rangefinders are more accurate than we are in accessing ranges.

Range

What’s the realistic maximum distance it can range reliably?  Some manufacturers claim rangefinder can range roughly twice as far as would be practical in normal use. This is because they normally calibrate them on a large highly reflective target at maximum range. In practice, you’re trying to range a Flagstaff at a few hundred yards. Golf rangefinders typically have a magnification of 5x -6x which is practical up to 400 – 500 yards. Having a 400+ yard functional range is good enough for all practical purposes.

Magnification

Magnification helps to see targets at long range. So it is essential to have the correct magnification.  Poor magnification is worthless if you can’t see the target from where you are. Be sure to have a large enough magnification (at least 5x) to see far-distant targets.  As mentioned earlier most golf rangefinders typically have a magnification of 5x -6x which is practical up to 400 – 500 yards

Ease of Use

In this day and age, we are all used to carrying around mobile phones and interacting with them. A golf range finder is just another box of electronics that should be easy to use and give quick and accurate answers.  We want to know whether you’re able to grab the device from your bag, easily find the target and quickly display a range reading before shooting.  Pressing the range button and getting a reading back should take a second or less.

Speed

Once you have ranged a target whether in scan mode or using pin-seeker technology the display reading is almost immediate in most modern rangefinders. Due to the evolution of modern processor chips in mobile phones, the modern golf range finder has benefited as well by the use of this borrowed technology. Lasers pulses pass at the speed of light so the only real time expended is the time for the processor to calculate range once the target is locked on. Speeds are really fast across all major models now resolving range in one second or less.

Battery Life

Most laser rangefinder batteries will last a most, if not all, of your golf season.  But it will be wise to carry a spare battery with you when you see that battery indicator blinking of down to low bars reading. GPS devices including watches have to recharge much more frequently because of the GPS use. If you are playing an extended round you need to ensure you have enough battery charge to compete.

fully waterproof Bushnell X2Waterproofing

Water and electronics simply don’t mix well.  Many rangefinders now employ rigid plastic and rubber composites to make rangefinder bodies. These have gotten much better over the years making them more resistant to water damage. You naturally want to know if a rangefinder will withstand any sudden rain or if you drop it into a puddle will it survive? The Bushnell X2 Pro, Pro X7 and Z6 Jolt are waterproof models while the V2, V3 and V4 are not.  The Leupold’s GX series is also waterproof range.

Durability

Durable, shockproof and rugged construction is the thing to look for. Will it survive if you drop it or if it falls out of your cart on a path? To protect your investment, durable construction ensures you’re not going have to replace it with a new rangefinder.

good quality Bushnell X2 durable hard caseCase/Storage

A good quality hard case can protect your investment and also help you access it more easily while on the course.  Belt and carbenes attachment can help in portability. A good case can be a real factor in your choice.

Price

Rangefinders tend to fall within the $140-$599 range.  The $140 rangefinders are pretty solid and offer great for that price. The most comfortable price point is around $250 where you get the most desirable features for that money. Some higher-end branded models while more expensive have some useful extra features, waterproofing, better optics, dual display, fog modes, slope calculation, better pin seeking technology and longer warranties.

Golf Range Finder Target Modes

All rangefinders provide the very basic and simple line of sight distance to your target which is usually the hole. To improve measurement accuracy in laser rangefinders, you can also have different target modes that can help you zero into the flagstick, ignore water droplets, and can even adjust for inclines and declines that can affect your distance to the hole.

First Target Priority Mode

A golf range finder uses a first target priority mode system to get the most accurate distance to the target. It ignores background objects like trees, mounds, or anything in the distance that can serve as a distraction to successful target acquisition. By firing the laser in first target priority mode, it will search for the nearest target and provide you with the nearest distance. In golf, this is the most helpful target mode since that nearest distance is usually the flagstick.

pin seeking modePin Seeking Mode

Most of the different golf rangefinder manufacturers refined their first target priority mode to have specialized Pin seeking abilities. Each brand has their own name for this technology, such as Bushnell’s “PinSeeker”, and Leupold’s “PinHunter” modes. These pin seeking modes are are really helpful and well worth investing in because they can make ranging a flag so much faster and more accurate than before.

They’re designed to specifically to seek the flagstick while ignoring potential background targets like trees etc. Furthermore, sometimes these modes can be enhanced to provide a confirmation that it’s locked onto the flag, such as a vibration like Bushnell’s Jolt series. This gives the golfer extra confidence in the distance readings displayed while ranging.

Distant Target Priority Mode

This is sometimes referred to as last target priority mode. Hunting rangefinders use this mode as the standard default target mode. It works by ignoring all foreground distractions to acquire the last target distance. When playing golf, the idea is to get the distance to the hole, and this is usually the closest distance, not the furthest. But, it sometimes helps to have this feature so that you can range out to any target you want, making it a versatile device for dual use in hunting or golf. The Nikon COOLSHOT AS is an example of a dual purpose rangefinder that has Tru-Target Technology. It allows you to toggle between First and Last target priority modes.

in scanning modeScan Mode

This mode is super convenient and you shouldn’t be without it if you’re going to have a rangefinder at all. While hunting, you’re more likely going to use it for a continuous update of distances on a moving target like a deer.

If you want to quickly evaluate relative distances of objects in a target area of the course, there’s no need to press the range button for each target or landmark one at a time. Scan mode is normally achieved by holding down the range button as you pass over stationary or moving targets. It continuously sends out laser pulses 3 or 4 times per second constantly updating distances in the viewfinder.

Is Scan Mode Useful For Golf

While this rangefinder feature is arguably better suited to hunting rangefinders it can also be useful for golf rangefinders too. Bushnell’s latest golf rangefinders have no longer have dedicated automatic scan mode. But the excellent and affordable GOLF LASER RANGEFINDER VPRO500 has a scan mode if this is important to you. In scan mode, the VPRO500 continuously provides range readings for up to 10 seconds. This golf range finder also has an adjustable eyepiece for easy focus and offers enough eye relief. The display has a battery saving time out of 30-seconds if not in use.

Angle/Slope Compensation Mode viewAngle/Slope Compensation Mode

Like the other modes, it acquires a distance to the hole, but it will also take into consideration the degree of any incline or decline on the course that can affect that true horizontal distance to the hole. This feature is considered an “illegal” feature by the USGA to use in tournament games.  With the ability to switch between normal and slope compensation mode, it is possible to use the same golf range finder in a practice round to gauge angle compensation readings for later use in tournament play with slope mode turned off.

The Precision Pro Golf NX7 Pro Laser Range Finder uses an angle compensation feature called “Adaptive Slope Technology”. This is a similar feature to Bushnell’s slope technology employed in the Tour V4. The Precision Pro Golf NX7 Pro golf rangefinder is a direct competitor to the Bushnell Tour V4 Shift Golf Laser Rangefinder but is considerably cheaper.

The NX7 Pro’s slope mode will display angle compensated distances helping you select the right club on uphill and downhill shots. There could be a 5 to 20-yard difference in shot length using the NX7 Pro’s slope measurement feature.

Fog or Rain Mode

If you are a keen golfer you will take the wet or foggy weather in your stride. However,  rain particles can interfere with the quality of ranging since water droplets can refract the laser emissions from the golf rangefinder. This scattering can affect the golf range finder preventing it from acquiring accurate distances. Not all manufacturers provide such rain of fog compensation features.  The Popular Leupold GX-3i2 features a Fog Mode to accurately range through such weather conditions. Similarly, Bushnell has their Rain Mode, Leupold has their smart Fog Mode, and Simmons has their built-in rain and reflector targeting mode

Getting the Most Out of Your Golf Range Finder

Stick With Golf-Designed Rangefinders

In this article, we are concentrating on laser rangefinders. But Golf GPS rangefinders exist and use pre-loaded GPS points to give you the distance from predefined course information which can be downloaded and installed in such a device. We are concentrating on laser golf rangefinders that use pin seeking technology in first target priority mode as the standard for their design. Golf rangefinders seek out the closest flagstick target first.

People are often confused when they think a hunting rangefinder can easily be used as a golf rangefinder. Hunting rangefinders operate in the last target mode, the exact opposite of whats required in a “golf range finder”. So unless the rangefinder is for dual use and has a priority mode switch you are unlikely to get the best results for golf from a hunting rangefinder. So stick to Golf specifically designed rangefinder. The Bushnell Tour V4 is a golf-specific laser rangefinder that utilizes PinSeeker Technology.

GPS Rangefinders

 

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GPS rangefinders require that you first have the course preloaded and updated for the most recent map, hazard, and pin locations. The GolfBuddy Voice 2 is a GPS device preloaded with over 38,000 courses worldwide. To avoid concerns about lack of up to date golf course information this rangefinder solves this issue as a brand new device. While this is a useful device It can never be as useful as a laser rangefinder which does not depend on keeping a world map of databases up to date. It is vulnerable to local hazard changes or even local courses which have not been added to the database.

The GolfBuddy Voice 2 Specification

  • Distances to front/center/back of the green
  • Up to 14-hour battery life (2+ rounds per charge)
  • Shot distance measurement
  • Dynamic Green View technology with distance readings from the golfer’s perspective
  • Water resistant
  • Automatic course and hole recognition
  • Male/Female voice options through free GolfBuddy Manager Program
  • Detachable unit to provide versatility
  • Multilingual (up to 11 languages, 8 preloaded)
  • Legal for tournament play

Remember also, that some clubs don’t participate in providing their course mapping. So you should double check with your local club or other GPS rangefinder users first before committing to purchase. These devices also need charging time with its rechargeable battery, which could be annoying if it dies during a game.

Laser Range Finders

How do Laser Rangefinders Work?

You might have heard some users complain how temperamental they can be to use. But It’s important to understand how your laser rangefinder works. Inconsistent readings, not reaching maximum yard range, and poor accuracy are all common complaints you might hear about them. But most rangefinder errors result from the user’s expectations being unreal?

A laser rangefinder uses a laser diode to reflect off a target and back to the device. The light produced by the laser diode is pulsed at a wavelength of light that’s invisible to the human eye.

dual display pin finderWith a push of the range button, a laser beam pulses are emitted from the device to a reflective target. Depending on the amount of ambient light available and the target’s reflectivity, shape, size, density, and colour will affect how much light is reflected back to the rangefinder. The unit measures how much time it takes for this process to happen and converts it to display distance. In spite of the technology involved good rangefinders can resolve distances in a second or less.

User Errors

A lot of the reason inconsistencies occur is because of the user. Many people don’t understand that a laser beam actually increases in size the further your ranging distance. For example, a laser diode measured in mils (an angular measurement) that is approximately two mils wide and four mils high would expand to be about two yards wide and four yards high at a range of 1000 yards.

To get the most accurate reading, the target size should be less than or equal to the beam size for the target distance. To avoid errors; ranging small sized targets is best for close range distances and larger targets are best to range for longer distances. Not understanding the way a laser beam changes in size can cause your device to not generate a reading, fail target acquisition, or worse range an unintended target instead.

Ensure your rangefinder can work on average reflective surfaces is important. The more the reflective the target the better the chance of target acquisition and the more accurate a reading you’ll get. Some laser range finders rely on prism-mounted reflectors to enhance laser efficiency on flagsticks. We don’t recommend these, the TecTecTec VPRO500, on the other hand, can zone in on flags without reflective prisms (up-to 540 yards). However, more and more clubs are installing reflectors of some sort since laser rangefinders use is becoming more common.

How Using A Laser Rangefinders Will Benefit A Golfer

Rangefinders are much more accurate than any other practical means of measuring the range of your shots or targets. Imagine that you finally know the actual distance to all of your targets. Also, you finally know the actual distance of your shots. A rangefinder can really help improve your golf score. Knowing the correct distance to your target can mean the difference between dropping your ball in the water hazard and getting a chance for a birdie.

Laser rangefinders enable you to aim directly at a target and know the exact distance, within fractions of a yard.  This margin of error is much less the error margin in your shotmaking. This means using a golf range finder is always going to be better than your own guesswork.  Improve your game by having your club distances clearly set-out and by knowing the exact distance to the target for every shot.  This is what the pros do with their caddies.

Rangefinders help you to eliminate unrealistic expectations

Rangefinders help you to eliminate unrealistic expectations in the actual range of your shots. They can give you the actual yardage of your shot and not some imaginary number you plucked out your mind that you thought right from experience or simply guessed. Knowing your shot and target data will prevent you from failure on nearly every shot.

Also, picking 2 or 3 targets close to your intended landing area gives you a better feel for the club you select. If you only picked just one target, say at 170 yards while your safe landing area is 170-190 yards range you could under club. In fact knowing the safe range you’re likely to want to take a longer club than you might have picked for the 170-yard shot. Pick your targets before you arrive at your ball so you can shoot quickly and avoid slowing up the play for others.

Also, by noting on your actual shot distance compared to your target distance you could be playing about 1 club short. Start compensating on the course immediately by taking that extra club instead. Play the game you have, not the game you want. You should play rounds with realistic expectations and strategy.  So the sooner in the round, you identify your shot tendencies, the better to make adjustments.

Best Golf Range Finder Reviews

We set out to find the best golf rangefinder in 2017 to help you make better decisions on the golf course. We selected on the basis of segregating them into the following categories..

  • best overall golf rangefinder
  • best value
  • best new
  • best budget

We conducted a survey of golf rangefinders from different manufacturers and compared features, performance and price. After considering every quality rangefinder in detail, we selected the best golf rangefinders as:

close contenders:

The rest we considered:

Here are our reviews…

Best Rangefinder BUSHNELL PRO X2 Golf Range Finder Review

The X2 also has (DDT) dual display technology, which makes viewing the display numbers easier to see in any lighting condition. Just press of the Mode button and DDT switches between a bright red vivid display or a sharp black display. This option is a great feature, giving users better clarity of information in changing lighting conditions.

PINSEEKER WITH JOLT TECHNOLOGY

pro x2The Pinseeker targeting technology gives user perfect confidence that they have indeed correctly ranged the distance to the flagpole. It is able to discriminate between the flag and any background objects like trees even where the background objects are relatively close to the flag. The user is given feedback when locked on the flag by vibrations of the body. This is also the signature Bushnell ‘jolt’ feature.

SLOPE COMPENSATION TECHNOLOGY

This is Bushnell’s angle compensation feature. It allows for shots with large angle both up and downhill. It gives the true horizontal distance to the target which will help the golfer choose the right club.

Bushnell Pro X2 Range Finder Slope switch on the side of the housingAlso, If you’re playing a course on the side of a hill this rangefinder slope feature can be a great help. Players competing in USGA tournaments may use this slope compensation feature to mark their yardage cards in practice rounds. Having the ability to disable the slope technology with a simple switch also renders the X2 an acceptable legal device in tournaments.

The X2 Slope Switch

The Pro X2 slope switch is unique among competitors. You may flick a switch on the side of the device to move between the two modes. This makes it a quick and easy operation while giving the golfer the benefit of both modes at the flick of a switch.

DISPLAY INDICATORS

The Pro X2 display incorporates the following illuminated indicators:

  • PinSeeker™ Indicator
  • Aiming Reticle
  • Battery Life Indicator
  • Active Laser
  • Distance Displayed in Yards/Meters
  • Slope Compensated Distance
  • Battery Indicator Blinks – Battery needs to be replaced

BUSHNELL PRO X2 SPECIFICATIONS

  • Magnification: 6x
  • Obj. Lens: 21 mm
  • Dimensions: 1.5x4x3 inches
  • Weight: 8oz
  • Battery Type: 3-Volt Lithium (CR-2) included
  • Display: Dual Display Technology
  • Range: 5-1300 yards; 450+ yards to Flags
  • Ranging Accuracy: 1/2 yard
  •  Water Proof: Yes
  • Eye Relief: 16mm
  • Exit Pupil: 3.5mm
  • Optical Coatings: Fully Multi-Coated
  • Built-in Accessory Mount: No
  • Field of View: [email protected] yds

We have a full review of the Bushnell Pro X2 Golf Range Finder Here

 


Best Value Rangefinder – Bushnell Tour V4 Golf Laser Rangefinder with JOLT and slope

Golf Rangefinder Reviews - Bushnell Tour V4 Shift Golf Laser Rangefinder
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In our golf rangefinder reviews series, we simply cannot ignore the Bushnell brand. It is the leading rangefinder maker in the marketplace with many innovative and well-loved products. Bushnell’s flagship golf rangefinder product is the Bushnell Pro X2. But that is a premium product at a premium price.

The Bushnell Tour V4 Shift Golf Laser Rangefinder costs less than its big brother at around $360. However, it incorporates some similar really nice to have features seen in the Pro X2. It includes a switchable slope mode for angle compensation and uses the same Pinseeker technology with Jolt for locating pins accurately. Its accuracy is specified as +- 1 yard. While the X2 Pro is accurate to +- 0.5 yards.

Bushnell 2017 New Tour V4 Shift Slope & Non Slope Edition Patriot Pack Golf Laser Rangefinder & 1 Custom Ball Marker Hat Clip set (Eagle US Flag)The Bushnell Tour V4 Shift has a weatherproof body, unlike the Bushnell Pro X2 which has a compact rubber armoured fully waterproof metal housing. The Bushnell Tour V4 Shift is the perfect compromise of size, speed, accuracy, slope and Pinseeker with JOLT technology. Bushnell also sells the 2017 New Tour V4 Shift Slope Edition Patriot Pack. This pack includes the rangefinder and a red silicone sleeve for extra weatherproofing protection.

BUSHNELL TOUR V4 SHIFT PINSEEKER WITH JOLT TECHNOLOGY

The Pinseeker targeting technology with Jolt gives the user feedback when ranging a flag. By pulse vibrating the rangefinder body,  it signals when a flag is correctly ranged. This gives the golfer confidence that they have indeed correctly ranged the distance to the flagpole.

The Tour V4 Shift It is able to separate the flag from any background objects like trees. This works even when the background objects are close to the flag. As soon as the golf range finder rapidly locks on a flag the body vibrates to confirm a locked on an accurate reading of distance to the flag. This is the characteristic Bushnell ‘jolt’. feature.

BUSHNELL’S SLOPE TECHNOLOGY

Bushnell’s slope technology is its name for a targeting angle compensation feature. It provides compensated distances for shots with large decline or incline angles say when playing up and down a hilly course. It measures the true horizontal distance to the target flag, helping the golfer to choose the right club for the shot.

Also, If you’re playing a course on the side of a hill this rangefinder slope feature can be a great help. Players competing in USGA tournaments may use this slope compensation feature to mark their yardage cards in practice rounds. Having the ability to disable the slope technology with a simple switch also renders the X2 an acceptable legal device in tournaments.

See the full Bushnell Tour V4 Golf Laser Rangefinder Review Here

 


Precision Pro NX7 Pro Laser Rangefinder – Best New Rangefinder

Golf Rangefinder - Precision Pro Golf NX7 Pro Laser Range Finder
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This golf rangefinder is a direct competitor to the Bushnell Tour V4 Shift Golf Laser Range Finder but is considerably cheaper. The Precision Pro Golf NX7 Pro Laser Range Finder uses an angle compensation feature called “Adaptive Slope Technology”.  This is a similar feature to Bushnell’s slope technology employed in the Tour V4.

The NX7 Pro’s slope mode will display angle compensated distances helping you select the right club on uphill and downhill shots. There could be a 5 to 20-yard difference in shot length using the NX7 Pro’s slope measurement feature.

The mode button lets you toggle between slope and non-slope. The display indicates “M1” is non-slope tournament legal mode. In slope mode, it displays “M2”

The NX7 Pro TAG system

Similar to the Bushnell Tour V4  Pinseeker Jolt system the NX7 Pro employs a pulse vibration technology which sends a quick body vibration when you’re locked onto the target.  This TAG system (Target Acquisition Technology)  scans your field of view and locks in on the target. It ignores targets in line of sight but behind the intended one to ensure you measure a precise distance. This, for example, would separate a flagpole distance from the trees close behind it.

precision pro nx7The NX7 Pro has a rugged water resistant and shockproof body design. It’s built to survive accidental drops and knocks and the elements you will find on a golf course. It’s accurate to +/- 1 Yard, has a 400 Yard Range, 6X Magnification and a 2-Year Warranty. The product Includes the NX7 Pro Rangefinder, a premium carrying case, a 3-volt battery, instruction manual, cleaning cloth and lanyard.

NX7 GOLF RANGEFINDER MAIN FEATURES

  • Adaptive Slope Technology –  toggle switch between elevation measuring Slope and  Non-Slope mode
  • Tournament Legal – the NX7 Rangefinder is legal for tournaments that allow distance measuring devices in none slope mode.
  • (TAG) Target Acquisition Technology – scans your field of view and locks in on the target using “First Target priority”, selects foreground target over the background.
  • Pulse Vibration Technology – gives a quick body vibration pulse when locked on to the target.
  • Water Resistant Design – ensures the NX7 can be used in wet and rainy conditions without issue.
  • Shock Proof Design –  helps to survive the drops or other impacts on the golf course.
  •  Accuracy +/- 1 Yard
  • Multi-Distance Mode – easily switch between measurement units; yards and meters.
  • 400 Yard Range
  • 6X Magnification
  • 1/10 Yard Measurement
  • High-Speed SD Laser – picks up distance readings in under 1 second
  • 2-Year Warranty
  • Premium carrying case with elastic strap and carabiner for easy access on the course.
  • 3 Volt Battery (included)
  • Instruction Manual, Cleaning Cloth, Lanyard.

PRECISION PRO NX7 GOLF LASER RANGEFINDER

The Precision Pro NX7 Golf laser golf range finder really hits that sweet spot where it provides the most desirable features as seen in premium competitor models but at a much better price point. It’s lightweight and feels good to grip in your hands. As you would expect from one of the best laser rangefinders it has excellent accuracy, good battery life,  x6 zoom, and target locking.

The NX7 laser golf range finder is relatively new on the market and is well priced. We think it is the best new rangefinder and a cheaper rival to the Bushnell Tour V4 Shift. It also challenges the VPRO500 from TecTecTec as the best value laser rangefinder for money.

See the Full Precision Pro NX7 Pro Laser Rangefinder Review


Best Budget Golf Range Finder  – Golf Laser Rangefinder VPRO500

Golf Laser Rangefinder VPRO500 Golf Laser Rangefinder With Pinsensor
Check Out Todays Price

The Golf Laser Rangefinder VPRO500 from TecTecTec has gained a reputation as a quality budget rangefinder with many positive reviews. The company is a relatively new name in the rangefinder world but is gaining inroads. The VPRO500 laser golf range finder has a targeting mode technology called Pinsensor.  It is used for finding the pins from the background. With 6x magnification, the VPRO500 has a realistic 400-yard range. At this low price it really is an affordable and effective golfing rangefinder. It is a top seller on Amazon with over 2000 customer reviews. We have added it to our budget top ten rangefinders.

The VPRO500 rival Bushnell V3 competitor on paper has similar if not better specifications for magnification, comparable range and accuracy. However, there have been a few more defect reports on the V3.  The VPRO500 is a sturdy weatherproof design. But gets the job done and is a great entry-level rangefinder for golfers. Top that with the 2-year warranty offered by TecTecTec you’ll be covered.

 KEY FEATURES

  • The LCD display is uncluttered and easy read. 
  • Three mode settings: normal, scan and pin
  • It displays distance,  battery meter, and also scan or pin depending on mode settings.
  • It also provides fast and convenient operation!
  • Measuring from 5 up to 450 yards
  • employs “Pin seeking Tech” pin targeting mode
  • 6x Magnification
  • Multi-Coated Optics
  • Objective lens 24mm
  • adjustable eyepiece for focusing
  • It incorporates (Eye-safe rangefinder Class 1 laser with <0.5mW average power output)
  • Carrying pouch and also a lanyard
  • Also provided, a free CR2 3-volt battery, strap, microfiber cleaning cloth and quick start guide!
  • 2 Year Warranty & TecTecTec Happy Customer Guarantee!
  • Measures just 104 x 72 x 41 mm and weighing just 185g ( 4.2 x 3 x 1.5 “, 7 oz)
  • Water and dust resistant, durable body
  • Tournament Legal (no slope)
  • Accurate to 1 yard

See the Full Golf Laser Rangefinder VPRO500 Review


Some Q & A’s Regarding Buying or Using a Golf Range Finder

Do You Have To Be A Good Player To Use A Golf Range Finder?

Not at all. We all aim to hit consistent distances with our shots. We can use a rangefinder to record and improve our shot consistency. By recording your shots on different parts of a course its beneficial to be able to check your actual on-course distances from fairways, rough and hazards and make course notes about it. You will certainly get to know your ranges by club choice and get to know what distance you actually shoot consistently.

Doesn’t the course give you the distances already?

Golf courses do try to help the golfer by showing distances on scorecards, signage on the tee and markers on fairways. However, they give you the distance to the middle of the green from that position. Now green locations and flag positions change on a green to allow grass regrowth. In addition, a fairway marker can be accurate if your ball is close by. In the end, you are left to make an estimate of the distance to the hole because in general, most golfers don’t consistently drive down the centre of the fairway. Permanent markers may not be updated when holes are redesigned.

Does The Use Of Rangefinders Slow Down Play?

aofar1000Some golf purists tend to disapprove of golf rangefinders in golf, believing that the technology dilutes the level of skill needed to play the game well without aids. However, golf range finder enthusiasts argue they improve their enjoyment of the game and engages those who like their gadgets. They have also been shown to improve the pace of play with one study. Bushnell and the National University Golf Academy completed a study which showed that the use of rangefinders by mid-handicapped players sped up rounds by up to 30 minutes. That’s over 10% of a typical round.

Practical Tips

In general, keep your rangefinder in reach so it’s easy to grab and get some readings. When walking use scan mode to estimate the range a number of targets close to your intended one to get an approximate range in advance. The relative difference in these readings can help to decide when to lay up and when to go for it. As golf is a game of calculated risk the importance of knowing your distances cannot be overstated to minimise the risks involved. Studies on human depth perception have shown estimating distances to targets, even at close range is not good. An accurate laser golf range finder can help us fix that weakness.

PGA Tour Players Don’t Seem To Use Them, Why should I?

In fact, most professional PGA players and their cadies use rangefinders during practice rounds. They collect large amounts of range and target data that they note in their yardage books. They then use this data during tournament play without the need for the rangefinder to be in employed.

Is it legal to use a golf range finder during a golf round?

The short answer is Yes if they only measure distance. Most rangefinders are USGA legal if they only measure distance.

In 2006, the USGA and R&A introduced a change to Rule 14-3 which had prohibited the use of distance measuring devices. The new rule permits the use of distance measuring devices (not slope, or wind speed or direction) as a local rule – meaning that local course rules would determine whether allowed or not. In 2014, distance measuring devices were allowed for use in all amateur events. While new slope-measuring technology is great to have, it looks like the current rules are not going to change soon.

I understand the penalty for breaching the rule was revised in the USGA Rules of Golf in 2016 to two strokes in stroke play or the loss of hole in match play. A second breach would call for disqualification. These rules are in effect for a 4-year period through 2020.

Should I get a GPS or Laser Rangefinder?

A laser rangefinder is, in the end, more flexible. It can be targeted at any arbitrary target. This could be any hazard, trees or obstacle that would not be in a predefined map data in a GPS rangefinder. GPS systems rely on a database of fixed data which has to continually updated but in the end, you’re just getting green and hazard numbers.

Do I need a Golf Range Finder with slope mode feature?

It all depends on your intended use. If you play on a hillside course you could well do worse than buy a slope feature rangefinder. Now that the USGA has clarified rangefinder rules (USGA rule 14-3/.05) which allows rangefinders with slope technology to be used by local rule in tournament play providing its slope compensation function is turned off.

Do I Need Pin Seeking Technology?

Laser rangefinders can be difficult to use on a target like a flagstaff at distance. At 200-300 yard distance and with shaky hands, it can be difficult to lock onto a pin especially with big trees behind it. Manufacturers have developed their first priority targeting technology to lock onto the pin more easily. As a golfer, we would not buy a golf range finder without some kind of pin seeker feature. Bushnell version of this is called “PinSeeker” and Leupold calls it system “Pinhunter”.

What is the Downside To laser rangefinders?

Lasers need a clear path to travel to the target and back. Weather conditions like rain and fog can scatter the laser possibly leading to inaccurate readings. The Popular Leupold GX-3i2 model features a Fog Mode to account for such conditions. However, if you’re playing in the rain or fog you’re unlikely to be playing your best golf anyway. Furthermore, we would definitely not let this issue stop you from buying one.

Which Golf Range Finder?

Here are the key players in the golf range finder industry:

Bushnell

Bushnell is the most well-known company in the golf rangefinder market. It is the market leader and claims 99 percent of all PGA Tour players as its users. Bushnell is based in Overland Park, Kansas, USA.

Leupold

Leupold is another established outdoor hunting optics company which has made the move into golf optics.  Their GX series rangefinders cover most golfing needs and it also includes the entry-level Pincaddie rangefinder.  Leupold is based in Beaverton, OR, USA.

TecTecTec

TecTecTec is a newcomer to the rangefinder world.  There is little company information available but lots of users swear by their products and excellent customer support. We voted the VPro500 golf range finder our best budget and entry-level rangefinder on the market.

Nikon

Nikon, is a company famous for its cameras and optics. They began marketing their own line of rangefinders after producing Callaway products for several years. Nikon’s current product line is the COOLSHOT with 20, 40 and 40i models.

Summing It Up

In this detailed article, we have shown the benefits of rangefinders and how they can help improve your shotmaking and golf course game strategy.  Also, they are a huge help to train your estimation skills and expectations.  Golfers who are converted to use them, never look back and continue to use their golf range finder on a regular basis.