We decided to do some research on golf rangefinders when we found ourselves hitting the trees behind the flag instead of the actual flag. There’s nothing worse than hitting a shot thinking you have hit it sweetly and watching it sail over the green, over the flag because you got a bad yardage.
The best golf rangefinder is not necessarily the most expensive option on the market. You want the one that’s most reliable in terms of the distance to the flag while also being very easy to use. You may have heard of brands such as Bushnell and Nikon on the rangefinder market but how did they compare against each other…. Let’s find out!
New advances in technology means accurate information is available on the course to golfers of all abilities. There was a time when only professional golfers had good yardage information thanks to their caddies but that has changed.
Golf Rangefinders vs GPS Golf Watch
There are several devices on the market which present amateur and beginner golfers with the opportunity to see precise yardages before playing shots. Two of the devices in question are the golf RangeFinder and GPS golf watch.
There is so much choice when it comes to choosing between the two, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Despite having the same purpose (to provide accurate yardages), let’s take a look at the differences between the golf Rangefinder and the GPS golf watch.
One of the benefits of the GPS golf watch is it can be worn on the wrist, which gives easy access to the device. One glance at the watch and you can find the yardage to the middle of the green, simple.
Even if you cannot see the hole because of a mound or some trees, a GPS golf watch will still provide accurate data, which is very reassuring.
However, you must remember to download the course map before starting your round. In addition, the accuracy on a GPS golf watch is not always 100% precise and may not consider changes to flag position. If you like to aim for the flag regularly on approach shots, this could be a problem.
A simple GPS golf watch displaying yardages digitally can set you back between £130 and £220. GPS golf watches which feature detailed course maps can start at over £300.
If you are a player who likes to attack the pin whenever possible, a golf RangeFinder may be the better option. These give an accurate yardage to the flag, which means you can select a club with confidence, knowing exactly how far you need the ball to travel.
Furthermore, you may want to know the yardage to something which is not included on a course map. This could include trees or an object you would like to hit close to or use for aim, such as a stake. A golf RangeFinder will allow you to measure the distance to any object in view on the golf course, which can be very useful.
The key to using a golf RangeFinder is being able to see the target towards which you want to aim. As you are looking through the RangeFinder using your own eyes, you must be able to see whatever you want to measure.
So, if you are targeting the flag but cannot see it, you will not be able to use a golf Rangefinder to get an accurate yardage. Also, they can struggle to work properly when playing in rain or fog.
A basic golf RangeFinder starts at £150 with more advanced models coming in at £300 plus and now lets have a look at the differences between a budget golf rangefinder and a top of the range option.
Cheap vs expensive rangefinder
Obviously, there is quite a big difference between the bottom-end and high-end rangefinders on the market. But is there really much difference in what they offer and the information they provide in terms of the distance?
Well in terms of the physical characteristics, as you’d expect, the more expensive one looks a bit crisper and sharper whereas the cheaper options can feel a little bit flimsier. This could be because the bigger brands may have put more effort into the design and looks of their equipment.
But it means that the cheaper options can sometimes be a little more durable we think because the more expensive one can break easier if you just leave them in your bag or something and they get shoved around everywhere.
Size wise, the cheaper options are a little bulkier. They don’t sit as nicely in your hand as the more expensive options but we don’t think this is a huge deciding factor. You are talking about very minute differences in size for the difference of $200 or $300.
So, the question really is “are those extra couple of yards really worth the extra couple of $100 dollars. For us, it depends on how much you play and the level that you play at.
But there’s range finders out there around $200 or $300 that have performed nearly as good as the ones below $100 and so hopefully we can help you save a tonne of cash.
Are Golf Range Finders Worth the Money?
For our pro, she would say that it’s a horrible feeling hitting a shot not knowing the exact distance to the pin.
It’s one of those things, once you have used it, you’ll always have one by your side.
Specially if you’re an amateur or if you’re bad at judging distances, you might find situation where you think it’s 150 yards to the pin and do the hard part with a perfect strike of the ball. You then find out that you have left yourself a 20ft put.
So, for us and like many golfers out there, they are absolutely worth the money for anyone who wants to control their distances. But the question now, how much of the added functionalities do you need to help your game?
Do I need slope technology?
Slope technology is something a lot of golfers don’t understand and it’s vital to accurate readings which is what sets this piece of equipment apart from all the others. So, for example if we have 150 yard shot and 2° elevation, that will play more like 158 yard shot which is now a full club.
This is even more important on the longer shot when there is an incline or decline on the hole. So, with slope technology, it will give you an actual yardage and an adjusted yardage based on the elevation.
But do keep in mind that you can’t use slope technology during competition. It’s fine for general play and training but when it comes to tournaments, they are not allowed. It’s fine to use the rangefinder itself but the ones with the technology will need to be switched off.
So, the question really is do you want to guess that yardage or would you rather have a piece of equipment which is going to give you a much more accurate number.
Rangefinders can cost fortune and there’s loads of specialist ones out there.
Are rangefinders legal?
As we mentioned, rangefinders are legal and you’ll see almost all the tour players have one by their side. However, what is not legal is the use of slope technology during competitions.
So, what that means is that your rangefinder must have an option to switch the slope technology off to be able to use it in tournaments. As you will find out soon, this is very easily done as most of the products come with a simple switch you use just to switch it off.
Now you know about rangefinders in general, it’s time to brace yourself as we reveal the best rangefinders on the market right now.
Best Golf Rangefinders 2019
Bushnell Tour V4 Shift
These guys invented the rangefinders almost over 15 years ago and it is fair to say from our research that these guys are the market industry leaders. If you have played much golf or watched any on TV, you will be well aware that they dominate the market with over 95% of the players using Bushnell on Tour.
Quite simply, the reason for that is that they are the best! It comes down to the reliability, accuracy and the impressive slope technology that the company stands out from all the others.
There most impressive bit of technology is the slope switch which you probably understand now from our earlier discussions. It’s simply activated using a switch on the side and is easily accessed which is very convenient for competition players.
While seeking for the pin with these, when you focus in on one of the flags, you’ll see their Jolt technology which gives you a short vibration burst in your hands to let you know that it’s locked in with the flag giving you confidence that you have the exact distance to the right flag.
For us the most impressive thing about this is the custom-made feel you get in the hands. It will sit snug in your hands almost as if it made specifically for your hand with grippier areas on the top and bottom to give you a firm grip.
Comes with a pretty cool carrying case too which simply clips onto your bag and makes sure it’s protected from any wear and tear that it might get from being bumped around if left inside your bag.
Bushnell Pro X2
As mentioned before with the Tour V4, this one includes the switch slope technology but has a longer range, up to 1300 yards with 450 yards range for the vibrating jolt technology which will be very useful on par fives.
But the first thing you notice when you pick it up is that it is slightly heavier than the Tour V4 and other rangefinder which is due to it’s metal casing that gives it the 100% waterproof attributes. So, you haven’t got to worry about getting caught in the rain or any water getting onto the lens.
It’s still quite small giving the range of functionalities that come with this and include the rubber grip on the top and bottom which make it very easy to hold onto.
Personally, we think with the slightly heavier weight, it gives the rangefinder a bit more stability when picking you flags on the viewfinder.
Again, this is on the top end of the pricing spectrum, but if you are serious about your game and want pin-point accuracy in your distances then this is a must have.
Nikon Coolshot 80 VR
With this one, right off the bat, we loved the feel with these as it fits so nicely in your hands and it’s so easy to get a firm hold of it with this sticky tacky feel on top.
Nikon have introduced the vibration reduction technology which stabilizes the target in the viewfinder to help you look for the flag more easily. We can see this going on and is designed to not only reduce errors but also speed up the use.
It’s also got the first target priority mode which helps avoid zapping the distance to the background instead of the flag by picking out the shorter distance of the two. This is also confirmed in the viewfinder as there will be a sign that appears when you are zapped into the flag.
Also, another added bonus is not only that its waterproof but also fog proof for all you golfers out there who get out on the course early in the morning.
One thing to consider with the white colour is that, it may discolour a little bit if you are someone who tends to throw it in your bag. Nothing a bit of cleaning can’t take care of but worth mentioning.
Golf Buddy LR7
This one is an upgrade on Golf Buddies popular LR5 with now four different modes that help you measure distances accurately. The one we used the most was the pin-mode which helps pick out the flag from the background. Very clear view and reacts pretty fast as well.
However, we didn’t get much of a chance to test the scan-mode but our research suggests that this is quite a useful model especially when building up a strategy for the hole off the tee and selecting the right club.
In terms of feel, we would say it’s quite box-like shape which slots nicely into your hands and comfortable to use. Also, easy to store in a golf bag and carry around the course.
We also liked the simplicity of the viewfinder with all the information very accessible and easy to read.
Golf Buddy are well known for their GPS products and how reliable they are which they have brought over now to the rangefinders.
Pretty reasonable price as well compared to the high-end equipment even though you are getting a lot of features and functionalities for your money.
Nikon Coolshot 20
This one I love as a great value for money product. Obviously, we covered the Nikon Coolshot 80, but if you are looking for something a little cheaper, then I would say go for this one instead.
It’s quite simply a clean and simple device that’s very well priced. 550 yard range which is more than enough for any course that you will go out and use this on.
We love the snug fit with these, they are quite small and very easy to use. Sometimes with rangefinders, if they are really light, they might not be so sturdy or durable but you don’t get that feeling with these. It sits very stable in your hands for that awesome accuracy.
In terms of technology, it’s very simple! Doesn’t have any jolt or slope technology. It does that basics really well and that is to tell the distance accurately.
One thing we will mention is that it wasn’t as quick as some of the other higher-end options with the speed of locking into the flag. I would say that is expected for this price-range. But again you are talking about a couple of seconds and we don’t think it will make that much of a difference as long as the accuracy is still there.
So, whilst it may be considered an entry-level rangefinder, we think it is quite a capable tool that is worthy of its position on the list.
Leupold GX – 3i2
This one is a premium rangefinder and comes in at the higher-end of the price range. There Pinhunter technology has always been super impressive when it comes to measuring distances and locking onto the target.
The display is very easy to read with their OLED display and all the functionalities are pretty easy to pick up especially for a beginner.
You’ll get all the functionality and quality you expect from a high-end rangefinder but what really impressed us from our research is their level of customer service. They are known for being very helpful after the purchase and really looking after their customers.
Callaway 300 Pro
This is Callaways own rangefinder and first thing you’ll notice is the sleek sophisticated design along with the great fit in the hands.
But, the thing that sets this one apart is not only the 1000-yard range but the pin seeking technology which includes a birdie chirp sound when you lock into a flag to get the distance. So instead of a vibration like in the other products, this makes an audible noise to confirm that a target has been found.
Slope technology is pretty good too, gave us accurate original and adjusted yardage. Therefore, a couple of different modes on there to help your strategy out in the course.
We would definitely recommend this for someone with bigger hands as they will find it much more comfortable and easier to use than the smaller products.
What is also quite impressive is that this is waterproof and fog-proof which for the price that you can get this for, is very impressive indeed!
Hopefully, this article helped you broaden your knowledge about rangefinders and which ones is best suited for you. Don’t forget we have a ton of great information on here so have a look round especially if you are in the market for other products as well.