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Back to Golf Rangefinder Comparison Last update:

Golf Rangefinder Types - Best Golf Rangefinder for You

Golf Rangefinder types of tracking and yardage measuring. However, the latest models are even handier than that. While they may have started to help beginners improve their games, most professional golfers have some kind of golf rangefinder app or tracking app on their phones and watches. They probably have a few different rangefinders as well.

The basic purpose of any rangefinder is to find the distance to the target. There is a golf rangefinder that just comes with this simple feature and cost less than $100. While there are other rangefinders that attempt to do it all and may even include target switching capabilities so that it can be used for other sports, like hunting.

Golf Rangefinder Type

Golf Rangefinder TypesYou can turn on any golf rangefinder with a push of a button. The laser immediately shoots forward to target an object, typically the flag. The clock inside of the device calculates the time that it took for the laser to bounce back, allowing you to find the distance down to one yard typically. The reading is shown on the display in a matter of seconds. However, the range maximum finding distance is different on each golf rangefinder. Some rangefinders that work for both golfing and hunting can go up to 1300 yards, but this overkill for any green. Typical golf rangefinders only have a range up to 300 yards.

Golfers can enhance their game a lot just by picking the right rangefinder and lowering their scores by using the features.

There are two main types of golf rangefinder, and within those two types, there are a few different models with additional features. There are also hybrid or dual rangefinders made for both golfing and hunting, as well as surveying and ballistics.

Here are the Three different types of golf rangefinders:

GPS Rangefinder

Best GPS RangefinderGPS rangefinders are quicker tools that help you lower your score and decrease your pace, so you are able to move through courses much faster. You don’t have to guess the distance or what club, you can simply use the rangefinder to help you pick the most accurate club for the shot.

All GPS rangefinders come with pre-loaded maps and some others allow you to download real-time maps. Typically because of this, GPS rangefinders don’t take as long to find the target on the course and provide the distance. In fact, it’s almost instant. Due to the accuracy of the maps and score tracking, as well as club recommendations, these rangefinders are not always legal and may also require a subscription fee once per month.

However, GPS rangefinders are best known for their precision when covering distances from any part of the green. You don’t have to find a unit using a stable pace, which makes it easier to track your shots at each hole. You can easily pull up the layout of the course and proceed to the instant readings provided by the GPS.

You can also get GPS rangefinders in the form of watches, which makes it more convenient or stylish if you don’t want to carry around a bulky device. However, in recent years, GPS rangefinders have been shown to be less accurate than laser rangefinders. This is because manufacturers have new technology that allows lasers to instantly provide you with the distance. You don’t have to download any types of maps or pay a subscription either.

One of the main drawbacks for those who use GPS rangefinders is that the battery can die out much faster than on a laser rangefinder as well. You have to continuously charge the GPS rangefinder in order to keep its battery life. This can be a hassle on the golf course if you are in a full day of competition.

However, laser rangefinders don’t allow you to study a map beforehand that you’ve never been to. You won’t be able to see the course data as well as with a golf rangefinder either. Laser rangefinders also take a bit longer to provide distance calculations and can be more difficult to use as a beginner. However, manufacturers have been making some strides in the design and usage of laser rangefinders, as well as creating hybrid rangefinders that combine the best of both worlds.

Laser Rangefinder

Best Laser RangefinderThe handheld laser rangefinder works kind of like binoculars and a laser gun with a trigger button that lets you shoot the laser out to a point. You don’t have to download a single map or worry about the strength of a satellite on tournament day. You simply point and shoot. This emits a laser that bounces a signal off of a target and sends it back to the handset, allowing you to see the distance.

You can point a laser rangefinder at any flag or obstacle, including bunkers and trees. Rangefinders are also made to isolate the target from other targets, shooting the laser up to a maximum distance of 300 yards in most cases.

Laser rangefinders have a host of features, just like GPS rangefinder devices. Typically, it will measure the distance, as well as changes in elevation or slope. You can also see score tracking and club recommendations. There may be other factors such as wind and temperature that will affect your shot as well. All of these factors are noted within the LCD screen so that you can make the best choice for club and swing.

While laser rangefinders are often not allowed in professional tournaments because of these features, they are still very helpful when walking a green and determining different shots. There can be some issues with laser rangefinders, as well.

For example, if you are playing on a bright, sunny day with a side of fog or rain, you can have difficulty shooting the laser and getting the right accuracy. You also have to have a clear line of sight to the point you shoot, so if you are downhill or behind a tree, then a laser rangefinder isn’t going to help you much. You also won’t be able to see an overall map of the hole, unless it is a hybrid rangefinder that allows you to switch back and forth.

However, on most days, the laser rangefinder is the more accurate of the two because you are able to get the exact yardage from where you are standing to the target. You can get an idea of distance for each club in your bag as well if you use the laser rangefinder at the driving range too.

Hybrid Rangefinders

Best Hybrid RangefindersThere are a few manufacturers coming out with laser GPS rangefinders that combine the best of both worlds. These are typically not legal for tournament play, but you get everything you need in one device. These devices will allow you to view the course from the front, back, and center. You can also point and shoot the laser to get the accurate distance from wherever you are on the course, and you can always consult with GPS maps to ensure that the reading isn’t far off.

Hybrid golf rangefinders are quite expensive due to this dual technology. They typically also have features such as slope, elevation, swing tracking, scoring, club recommendations, and real-time yardage measurements. You will likely have to pay a subscription to use all of the maps as well and access the apps that come with the devices, as some of these now sync up to your Apple iPhone, Garmin watch, and Apple Watch.

The most discerning thing between these golf rangefinders is cost. You will have to determine what your budget is before you purchase a rangefinder. If you have never used a rangefinder, then you should practice with one that is handheld and just has some of the standard features for a lower price. The higher-priced rangefinders will typically cost over $500 and have a lot of features that will make improving your scores easier and faster. If you plan to play professionally or just want to impress your buddies, then you should consider a rangefinder that can give you some helpful tracking and scoring features.

When picking out a rangefinder, the most accurate yardage should be the top priority. Laser rangefinders will give you the best readings per hole, but you may want a GPS rangefinder at first to learn the different courses and shots with historical data and club recommendations. Once you have gotten the hang of using a rangefinder, you can switch to something more advanced like the laser rangefinder.

There are other golf rangefinder types that are used for hunting, surveying, and ballistics. Some manufacturers are pushing the envelope to combine all of these rangefinders together, allowing you to switch between different targeting modes for golfing and hunting on the fly.

As you pick out a golf rangefinder for your game, always consider what you are trying to achieve with each rangefinder and your own skill level. You should be able to try a rangefinder at a golf shop before purchasing to ensure that you will use the device before purchasing.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.
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