A golf rangefinder can be a great addition to your golf game.
Playing with a rangefinder can be like having a caddy with you all the time.
There are, however, both positives and negatives to having a rangefinder.
The main negative is going to be the cost.
In this guide, we will explain what a rangefinder is, what it is capable of, and whether or not it is worth it.
Are Golf Rangefinders Worth It?
If you are a golfer working on your game and you feel like you need to get better at course management, the range finder is worth it.
Rangefinders will let you know why you keep missing the green and how to get more accurate with your approach shots.
Most people don’t know how to pace golf courses properly, and they miscalculate their yardages.
The other thing that is great about a range finder is that it can help to speed up the pace of play considerably.
The more time golfers spend walking around trying to figure out their yardage, the longer the overall round will take.
With a rangefinder, a golfer can walk up to the ball and be ready to go within seconds.
Golfers also find that rangefinders help when playing a new golf course.
At a new course, you may not know how far it is to a specific bunker or water hazard.
Even with yardage markers, these types of yardages can be complicated to calculate.
A rangefinder lets you zero in on the spot you want to hit it and have an exact club choice rather quickly.
If you are a golfer that plays once or twice a month just for fun, the rangefinder will not be money well spent.
However, if you are serious about your game and you think you want to improve, you will notice some great benefits from using a rangefinder.
What Is A Rangefinder?
A golf rangefinder is a device used to measure distance on a golf course.
A rangefinder can be used for other sports and purposes as well, but several manufacturers make rangefinders specifically for golf.
With a rangefinder, you will point your device to a flag, and you will get a reading as to how close the flag is.
The rangefinder is usually accurate within a yard or two.
Some rangefinders can also give you the distances to things like water hazards or sand traps.
There are select rangefinders that can give you slope readings as well.
The slope function gives you information about how your yardage will be affected by elevation.
When a pin is elevated twenty feet or so about the ground, there will be an effect on the club needed to reach it.
Usually, it will result in you need one or two additional clubs.
The slope function almost makes golf a bit too easy; that is why it is not legal to use in tournament play.
There are many styles and features when it comes to golf rangefinders.
What Types of Rangefinders Are There?
There are two basic types of golf rangefinders.
The three types are GPS, and Laser rangefinder.
Each one is going to work differently.
For the GPS Rangefinder, you have an electronic unit that is going to give you yardages automatically as you move around the course.
The GPS Rangefinder comes with golf courses loaded on it.
You can also add other golf courses to a GPS rangefinder if needed.
Most GPS rangefinders are enjoyed by people that like to see a course flyover, the shape of the green, etc.
The downside to the GPS is that it only gives you yardages to the front, back, and middle of the green.
You do not get exact pin yardage.
A laser rangefinder is more of a manual method for getting the proper yardage.
With a laser rangefinder, you will hold it in your hand and focus on the object that you want to get yardage for.
Some rangefinders will pick up the distance on this automatically, and others will require you to press a button when you zero in on the object.
The laser rangefinders are getting easier to use and now have the capability of measuring the yardages of lots of different objects.
Most lower handicap players like the laser rangefinders because it gives them an exact distance to the pin.
With the GPS, only having the distance to the center of the green can sometimes be difficult and not as accurate.
The nice thing about laser rangefinders is that you can use them at every golf course.
You will not need to make sure that the golf course is loaded up on your unit before heading out to play.
The batteries in a laser rangefinder also tend to hold up much longer than the GPS.
GPS batteries need to be charged after about a round or two.
How Much Does A Typical Rangefinder Cost?
Some golf rangefinders are under $100, and others are closer to $400.
The more features you add, the more expensive a rangefinder will be.
Some units will vibrate when you narrow in on an object, they will have slope functions that can be turned on and off, and they may even be magnetic to stick to the cart bar.
Tons of features will increase or lower the price of a rangefinder.
For most golfers budgeting around $150 to $250 can get you an excellent rangefinder that will last you many years.
When you consider the cost of a caddy for a round, the rangefinder doesn’t seem so bad after all.
Is Slope Function Worth It For The Extra Money?
When you start shopping for golf rangefinders, you will notice pretty quickly that anything with a slope function is considerably more expensive.
Since the slope function cannot be used during a tournament, many golfers want to know if it is worth the money.
This depends on how often you think you will use it.
If you are new at the game and trying to learn how far you hit and what club to use, the slope function is a great choice.
If you are an experienced player that mostly plays the same courses over and over again, the need for slope function is probably not a great one.
Many amateur golfers will never play in a golf tournament, and the fact that they use slope on their rangefinder will not matter.
Most golfers are so happy to have exact yardage to the pin that the slope function does not matter all that much.
If you play a very hilly golf course or live in a mountainous area where slope comes into play quite a bit, you may also want to consider this feature.
In the end, you will have to determine which one makes the most sense for your game and your budget.
How Accurate Are Yardages Without A Range Finder?
When you decide as to whether or not a rangefinder is worth the money, you should consider how accurate your current yardages are.
Some golf courses have yardage on every single sprinkler head.
This is a great feature when you never have to walk more than a few feet to get the proper yardage.
However, some courses will only have a 200, 150, and 100-yard marker.
This means if you have a 125 yard shot into the green, you will have to walk twenty-five yards there and back to get your yardage.
This takes time, and chances are your pacing somewhere along the way could be a little bit off.
If that then causes you to choose an incorrect golf club, it will directly affect your golf score.
Even with a rangefinder, your numbers could be off by a few yards, but without you will have to expect it could be off by five to ten yards.
Are Rangefinders Hard To Read?
Some rangefinders have a very small viewing window, and the yardage displayed is going to be very small.
This small window means that you have to have some decent vision to read what your yardages are.
Luckily there are some ways around this.
For starters, the GPS units are much easier to read.
You can choose one with a large screen that shows you the number in large clear print.
Another option is to choose a rangefinder that also has audio capabilities.
Some rangefinders will get the yardage and then say it out loud to you.
This is a great benefit and will work well for those that have trouble seeing the smaller numbers on a rangefinder.
What Handicap Player Should Have A Rangefinder?
Golf rangefinders are designed for all handicap levels.
Each handicap level is going to see different benefits with their rangefinder.
For a higher handicapper, the rangefinder will help them understand what their different yardages are for each club.
A new player may not know how far they hit their hybrid or irons, and the rangefinder can help establish some knowledge and feel.
For the mid handicapper that is playing lots of golf courses, you may enjoy having the rangefinder to help you when playing away from your home course.
If you are a mid handicapper that is looking to start to pay attention to course management and scoring, the rangefinder is helpful.
For the lower handicapper that needs the most accurate information to play their shot perfectly, a rangefinder is also a great option.
So each handicap level can benefit from a rangefinder, but they will very likely use it in different ways.
Are Golf Rangefinder Cases Worth It?
When buying any electronic device, you will likely be offered a case to go with it.
Of course, this case is going to cost extra money, and you will have to decide whether or not it is in your budget.
A rangefinder is a fragile tool.
With all the sand, water, sweat, dirt, and grass that a rangefinder is exposed to on a golf course, it can start to have issues rather quickly.
Not only do we recommend purchasing a case for your rangefinder, but it also makes sense to clean it.
A rangefinder doesn’t need to stay in your bag at all times; in fact, you should take it with you and store it with other electronics.
The better care you take of your rangefinder, the longer you will have it before it needs to be replaced.
Golf rangefinders have come a long way in the last few years.
They are priced better, and you get much more for your money.
Golf rangefinders have also become much easier to use, and you can get them in a few different models that will work for lots of golfers.
If you feel like you are spending too much time pacing off yardages or missing greens because you had the wrong number, then a rangefinder is worth the money.