Golfers are becoming more and more reliant on rangefinders.
A rangefinder is a beneficial tool which can make the game of golf a bit easier.
It is difficult to pace off yardages and get an exact number.
With a rangefinder, you will get much more accurate results.
Some people are curious about how helpful a rangefinder is, and if it is legal.
Are Rangefinders Legal in Golf?
When golfers wonder about the legality of a club or a tool, they are often referring to tournament play.
Some rangefinders are legal in tournaments, and some are not.
There is a function on a rangefinder called slope, and if your rangefinder has a slope function (with no option to turn it off), then it is not legal in tournament play.
The majority of rangefinders sold will clearly state if they are legal to use in a tournament or not.
What Is Slope?
When you aim a rangefinder at a pin, it is going to give you a direct number to the pin.
When you have the slope function enabled on your rangefinder, you will get yardage which also accounts for the slope.
If the green is elevated ten feet from where you stand in the fairway, the rangefinder will give you this information.
The slope is something that will have a significant effect on the yardage.
Since the slope function gives you such an accurate and exact yardage, it is illegal to use it in tournaments.
Who Should Use the Slope Function?
If the slope function is illegal for tournament play, why is it a feature at all?
Although some golf traditionalists will say the slope function should be outlawed completely, there are a few situations in which slope is helpful.
1. The Beginner Golfer
For beginner golfers, it can take a long time to learn how hitting uphill and downhill is going to affect your golf game.
When you are trying to figure out all the other factors and rules of the game, hitting downhill and uphill will be the last thing you are thinking of.
Sometimes, if a golf ball is toward a slightly elevated green, you could need one or many two clubs more to get it there.
Without this information, you will very likely end up short of the green even though you thought you’d hit it poorly.
Most likely, you just didn’t read the yardage properly.
A rangefinder with a slope feature will help a beginner understand how far they can hit the ball and help them develop feel.
If you keep hitting to an uphill green that is 100 yards away with a pitching wedge and it comes up short, you will think that you can’t hit your pitching wedge far enough.
This is just not the case.
You are hitting a 120-yard shot when there is that much slope.
Some rangefinders will also take into account wind, and these are also illegal for tournament play.
2. Tournament Prep Work
Even though a rangefinder with slope cannot be used in a tournament, some people may use it to get ready for a tournament.
If you are playing a practice round and want to get a lot of information about a golf course, the slope function can help you.
Keep using it to collect all the information you need, and just make sure you turn it off for the actual event.
Does the Slope Function Cost Extra?
Yes, rangefinders with slope cost considerably more money than something which does not have slope.
The slope feature is more expensive to manufacture, and therefore it costs more money.
Rangefinders have dropped considerably in price from when they were first released.
It is now possible to get a good rangefinder for around $100.
The models with the slope function are almost always well over $200.
If you think about the accuracy and the helpfulness of the slope feature, you can understand why it is more expensive.
Can You Turn Slope On and Off?
On most rangefinders with the slope function, you can turn the slope on and off.
This will allow you to use the slope feature during your non-tournament rounds and then turn it off for tournament play.
In years past, some models would visibly show that the slope was turned off so that people couldn’t cheat.
There are still many rangefinders being built like this.
It does, however, seem that most great players who play in golf events are getting away from slope altogether.
Determining how much the height of green is going to affect your yardage and distance is something that can be learned over time.
Is a Rangefinder with Slope Worth the Money?
Since rangefinders with slope are priced so much higher than the standard rangefinders, many people wonder if it is worth the extra expense.
For some golfers who don’t have to worry about the budget, the slope is an excellent function to have.
For the average mid-handicapper who is never going to play in a tournament, the slope could help your weekly rounds improve by a few shots.
For the beginner trying to learn the game, the slope feature is probably worth the money.
When it comes to the better player who plays the same golf course most of the time, the slope feature is probably not going to matter.
One thing that is worth mentioning is that a range finder is a great tool to add to your bag.
If you can find one in your price range, you will see that they give you a much better understanding of what your actual distances are on the golf course.
Many people think they hit their seven-iron 150 yards.
When they start measuring exact yardages and paying attention to what the rangefinder says, they realize it’s more like 145.
Although the difference between 145 and 150 doesn’t seem like much, it is a 15-foot putt.
We would much rather have a one-foot putt for birdie than a 16-foot putt.
These little differences are what can help you break 100 or even 90.
For most golfers, a very simple rangefinder which gives you the exact distance to a pin should do the trick.
What Is Better: A Golf GPS or a Rangefinder?
Golf GPS devices and golf rangefinders are made for different people.
If you are more of a simple golfer who wants a number, then the rangefinder is for you.
If you are a visual learner and you want to see a picture of the hole and a layout of the green, then the GPS is the better choice.
A golf GPS is also good for people who like to record their scores and stats.
Many of the GPS units will record this information for you without you having to enter anything into the unit.
The rangefinder is a bit more for the golf purist who just wants yardage and can handle the rest themselves.
The rangefinders and golf GPS units tend to cost about the same amount of money.
Choosing between the two will end up being a matter of preference.
The most important thing a golfer can do is listen to their rangefinder or GPS, which will almost always be more accurate than you pacing off yardages.