Rangefinder vs GPS for Golf: What to Use and Why?
- Robert Stevens
The introduction of technology into golf has made the game much enjoyable to interested parties. Gone are the days when you had to pay caddies to analyze distance and select the right clubs. Modern innovations have taken over those duties and simple gadgets can now give accurate calculation. This assures reduced number of strokes.
For a golfer, amateur or professional, finding the right gadget is paramount. It could mean the difference between hitting the green and trimming the hedge with a 5-iron. Of the many devices developed, rangefinders and Golf GPS devices are the most popular.
A golf rangefinder is a portable device, like a mini camcorder. You look through the lens to get accurate measurement of distance from the flagpole. In some versions, slope indicators are included. These take into account the elevations and depressions along the target line.
A golf GPS device employs satellite imaging to give a mapping of the course. It provides aerial imagery of the entire course. The player’s location is indicated, as well as his distance from the hole. Other factors such as hazards, distances and even scores are also highlighted.
Originally, the technology behind these devices was not made for golfing. GPS was created for location services while laser tech was meant for distance reading. This does not in any way underemphasize how much both have changed the game of golf.
Adding both GPS devices and laser rangefinders to the sport revolutionized play. Efficiency, game time, skill development and overall satisfaction significantly improved. Now, more people are interested in playing than watching.
Both devices are effective game changers. With any of these gadgets, an amateur can up his game in a short while. However, they each have their unique distinctions and trump cards. Eventually, picking either the best golf GPS or best golf rangefinder rests on your style of play.
Now, let us see what we come up with when we set up rangefinder vs GPS for golf.
Rangefinder vs GPS for Golf
Laser rangefinders use laser beams to generate measurement of distance between two points. This technology has proven to be most reliable under such requirements. This is why it is heavily used in military, forestry, 3-D modeling and industrial production.
Application of laser rangefinders to golf ensures accuracy of distance and yardage. It also goes a long way in helping players choose the right club. This is mostly because it depends on calculating target distances by bouncing a laser beam off it.
To read a distance, players look for the flagpole or pin through the viewfinder. Then, a button is pressed and/or held, sending the laser to the target. The result is an accurate reading of distance.
Laser rangefinders also includes magnification features that allow user to see the target clearly. This capability can be a huge confidence booster as it sets targets to seem closer. With morale like that, an average golfer could become a pro in no time.
Laser rangefinders are also able to pinpoint the exact distance of the pin from the player. Knowing this, a player can easily decide how heavy a swing he needs.
Golf GPS, on the other hand provides pictorial details of the yard. It takes into account the elements that might hinder the game. It also measures distance between player and target. This is possible through satellite imagery.
The imaging features that come with golf GPS gives a player detailed information about the course. You can tell where the green is, as well as the hedges, ponds and valleys. It works like a personal photographer from above.
Avoiding obstacles, as well as building familiarity with the course are general objectives achievable with GPS devices. As they allow tracking capabilities, keeping up with the ball becomes easier through location features.
With it, players can also view scorecards, analyze games statistically and even, in some cases, keep track with betting costs.
Constant update from a satellite feed enables precision of details on the course, keeping golfers in the know. This automatically takes golfing to another level.
1. Design and Shape
Laser rangefinders are generally compact in design and shape. Sizes may range from the equivalent of a digital camera to that of a compact binocular. They are also built for easy handling as they need to be raised like telescopes. This accounts for the lightweight feature.
Golf GPS are more versatile in design and shape. They may come as wrist-watches, handheld rangefinders or sensors attachable to belts or clothes. There may also be screen or voice-interactive interface, depending on the player’s choice of preference.
2. Functional Features
Generally, laser rangefinders come in two modes; one that scans the whole environment, and the other, the closest target. However, there are certain extra features that set each models apart from the other. Technical features of laser rangefinders include;
- Slope units to detect and account for elevations
- Pin seeker and Jolt technology to focus on the pin only
- Scorecard display
- Waterproof and water-resistance
Golf GPS however, vary with modes, as they may feature screen view or voice options. The combination depends on the type, cost or manufacturer. Some common technical features of most golf GPS devices are;
- Colored or black and white screens.
- Graphical imagery of the green.
- Mapping and pinpointing capabilities.
- Course point selection options.
- Shot distance tracking.
- Scorecard display.
- Waterproof and water-resistance.
- Slope feature measures angle of incline/decline and automatically calculates slope adjusted distance
- 6x magnification; range 5-1000 yards with +/- 1 yard accuracy
- Pin acquisition technology (P.A.T.) quickly locks onto the pin from up to 300 yards away
- Exclusive BIRDIE feature delivers audible "chirp" to confirm distance acquisition to flagstick
- Scan functionality allows golfers to acquire distances to multiple targets at once
3. Accuracy and Distance Reading
Laser rangefinders are well-known for their line-of-sight accuracy. The technology allows easy reading of the distance between the golfer and the pin. The jolt technology in many modes also ensures the readings are precise with just hold or click the button.
In the case of golf GPS devices, the satellite support provides pinpoint location on the course. It also helps that satellites are well designed for reading distances. This enables users to tell the distance between the ball and the centre of the green.
4. Golf Rangefinder vs GPS: Advantages
Laser rangefinders possess some benefits which make them appealing to users. These include;
- Easy to use
- Portable sizes
- Fast-focus optics
- Target precision
- Accurate measurement of distance
- Allows easy selection of clubs for shots
- Long-lasting battery life
Of course, golf GPS devices boast some qualities over the former as well. Some of these are;
- Detailed information on courses
- Colorful display
- Improves understanding of golf club ranges
- Variety in sizes and designs
- Location accuracy
- Reduction of handicap
- Impressive out-of-sight shot assistance
- Reduced game time
- Portable sizes
5. Golf GPS vs Laser Rangefinder: Limitations
Of course, when considering rangefinder vs GPS for golf, there are certain drawbacks to using one or the other. Laser rangefinders are limited to certain situations, such as;
- Readings might be tough to detect without a line of sight
- Very far targets might be inaccurately measured
- An unsteady grip might influence reading
- Only distance to pin is measured. Precise locations or positions are not
In the case of golf GPS devices;
- Weak satellite feed disrupts reading accuracy
- Only provides details of mapped courses
- Accuracy of readings are not always precise
- Smartphone versions heavily drain battery life
Laser rangefinders are relatively expensive. The average purchase range spans from $350 to about $800 though the average warranty period reaches 2 years. However, the compact nature reduces the need for constant maintenance. Water-resistance also reduces chances of damage.
In the case of golf GPS devices, the price ranges depends on the type purchased. They could go from as cheap as $97 to a steep $600! The cost variation depends on yearly update of course maps from satellite feeds as well as membership fees from GPS service providers.
So, Golf GPS or Rangefinder?
How does on decide which wins in golf rangefinder vs GPS? Perhaps, a quick overview on both devices will help us see what they have over each other;
|Laser Rangefinder||Golf GPS|
|Operation||Eye-to-lens interaction||Eye-to-screen; voice interaction|
|Ease of Use||Yes||Yes|
|Lowest Purchase Cost||Above $300||Below $300|
|Average Weight||6 ounces||6-10 ounces|
|Average Readout||500-600 yards||Above 600 yards|
The decision to pick between a laser rangefinder and golf GPS rests on the user’s level of interest, style of play and budget. So, it is most advisable to go for what suits you both in functionality and cost.
Pitting rangefinder vs GPS for golf seems unfair as both devices are amazing additions to the golfer kit. Whichever direction you choose to go is sure to satisfy your needs. Both devices are hardy and easy to use and maintain.
Applying any of these devices to your game will surely bring satisfaction and improve your efficiency. It is also guaranteed to help you enjoy your time in the course, be you a beginner or an aspiring PGA athlete.