Do I Need A Golf Rangefinder?

Golf rangefinders are very useful tools for a golfer if used correctly. Depending on which type of golf rangefinder you are looking for and how you will use it, these digital and optical devices can add value to your game and your round.

Do I need a Golf Rangefinder?

Yes, You will need a GPS golf rangefinder if you play golf regularly, whether on your home course or different courses, and you need consistent yardage to target measurements. If you are looking to calibrate your club distances, a golf rangefinder would be a good investment.

golf gps watch for exact yardages

Before you run off and invest in either one, you’d need to consider the pros and cons of each different type, as well as the level of golf you are playing at currently and the level of golf you are aspiring to play at.

The GPS Golf Rangefinder

These GPS devices are essentially the same as the SATNAV system you might have in your car. Using a network of 32 satellites, they can pinpoint your location on the planet – which happens to be on a golf course- and give you the distance to the target on the hole you are playing.

They do this by having the golf course data pre-loaded on the device, and then you can select the course you are playing on before you start the round. These units also have other information, such as the course rating, and some of them may come with scorecards as well.

play tournament golf with exact yardage

How Accurate Are GPS Golf Rangefinders

In general, the modern GPS golf rangefinders are accurate to between 4 and 8 yards on the hole, but remember that these units may not have the slope or elevation included. This can make a difference in your find distance and club and shot choice.

That aside, they make finding the distance very easy. Many of them have full-color touch screen displays for a convenient and familiar operation showing bunkers’ positions, water, and other hazards.

The level of detail they provide depends on the course mapping provided to the manufacturer. These devices allow players to download updated course maps and other course data.

play golf with a golf rangefinder on golf courses

What Level Of Golf Are These Rangefinders Suitable For

While their accuracy is good, for the single handicapped players and better, a discrepancy of between 4 and 8 yards is a little too much, and they need more accurate devices to properly determine the club, shape, and swing for the shot.

If you are not in this range of skill, then a GPS rangefinder will be more than sufficient for your requirements, and bear in mind that you can only use the device for distance during competition according to Rule 4.3 of golf.

If you need a device that delivers greater accuracy, you will need a laser rangefinder.

The Laser Rangefinder

These are the most accurate systems available for golfers in terms of yardage as they use a laser to determine the exact distance to target. They do this by emitting a laser beam that bounces off a reflective target surface, and then it measures the time taken for the beam to return to the device.

Laser golf rangefinder are accurate to between ½ yard and 1/10 yard, and if you are playing golf at a level where this kind of accuracy is essential, then the laser rangefinder is the one you should be looking at.

Another big advantage of these laser devices is that you can use them on the range to check and calibrate your club distances like the pros do, which you cannot do with a GPS unit.

Some laser golf rangefinders also have settings for slope and elevation but remember that under rule 4.3 of golf, you may not use those features during play or competition.

What Level Of Golfer Are Laser Rangefinders Best Suited For

Golfers of any level can buy and use either a laser rangefinder or a GPS, but here is a consideration before buying one.

The laser rangefinder is particularly effective when playing using it has a solid, consistent swing and produces consistent shot shape and distance with each club. There would be no point really in spending money on a rangefinder when your actual swing produces seriously inconsistent ball striking, shape, and distance.

gps technology for distance control on approach shots

The other advantage of laser range finders is that they work on any course and give you accurate distance to hazards, bunkers, and water, and distance to flag or back or front of the green from your current position.

You are better off taking the money you would spend on a rangefinder and investing in improving your swing to a consistent level, and then investing in a laser rangefinder to calibrate your irons and woods properly.

The weekend golfer and casual player for GPS rangefinders would derive good benefits from these devices. In contrast, laser rangefinders would be more suited to players of higher skill levels that require precise distances.

Are You Allowed To Use Rangefinders In Competition On The Golf Course

You may use rangefinders in competition as changes in the rules to allow these devices were made in 2006 and then amended in 2016 to define and restrict the use of certain features on GPS devices that may and may not be used in competition or normal play.

You may only use the distance features on any rangefinder, provided the local rules permit them in competition. Still, you may not enable any feature that provides slope or elevation information or wind conditions.

use a golf rangefinder for tournament play

During play, you may not contact your coach, review images or video of your golf swing, or use any feature that offers club suggestions or assist with reading greens as this will be a breach of rule 4.3, and you will be disqualified.

Certain features can be used, including sharing GPS distance information with other players, access to messages, emails, clock and calendar information, and scorecard function if the unit has this feature available.

You can also record your swing for review after the round. The use of multifunction devices such as smartphones or tablets to provide distance information is also permitted under the same conditions discussed above.

Rangefinder Golf Game Conclusion

The use of GPS or laser golf rangefinder will take the distance guesswork out of your game, so investing in one would be a good idea for any golfer.  Our Peakpulse rangefinder review is a good place to start when evaluating the options.

The type of golf rangefinder you choose should be based on what you intend to use it for when you play golf and not just the whim of having one.

Properly used, these technological tools can add great value and help you improve your game or enjoy it more when on the course, but without a clear purpose, they will only become another excess accessory. They make a great addition to your golf bag.

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