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Learn More About Golf Rangefinders
Take Your Shot: Learn More About Golf Rangefinders
Drain your next shot with the help of a golf rangefinder.
Technology can give your game an edge, and the latest generation of golf rangefinders delivers pinpoint accuracy. Expect your rangefinder to come with a variety of breakthrough features such as HD optics, ultra-accurate slope readings and GPS technology.
Show your foursome you've come to play with industry-leading rangefinders from some of golf's top brands, including Bushnell®, Nikon® and Leupold®.
How Golf Rangefinders Work
A rangefinder helps you survey your most critical shots.
These devices emit a laser beam to measure the distance between you and a target. The beam reflects from the target, back to the rangefinder, providing you with valuable insight before you take your first stroke.
Some rangefinders come equipped with GPS capabilities. Preloaded golf courses provide you with valuable information for your specific playing environment. Think about the following factors when selecting your new device:
Slope: Measures changes in elevation between you and the flag. Slope measurements should provide you with the actual distance to the target. This feature is not permitted by the USGA for competitive play.
Minimum & Maximum Range: Most golf rangefinders provide an accurate readout at up to 20 yards. Consult product information to find out the maximum estimated distance of your device. Some extend to as long as 1,000 yards. Some devices provide distance to the front, center and back of your green for all-around accuracy.
Magnification: Golf rangefinders that provide greater degrees of magnification make it easier to hit your shot.
Your rangefinder should be simple to use and equipped with the industry’s latest features.
Always ensure your screen display is easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions. Some devices come with HD or LCD screens and automatic adjustable lighting settings. And never let Mother Nature hold you back—choose a rangefinder designed to be water-resistant. A shock-proof construction provides better durability.
The latest rangefinders are built to be lightweight, ergonomic and compact. Always consider the eye relief on your device. Eye relief is the distance from the surface of your eye piece where the viewer can obtain a full viewing angle. The farther the eye relief, the more comfortable your viewing will be.
Many models are equipped to distinguish between foreground and background object to provide more accurate readings. Different brands use different terms for this technology.
- Bushnell refers to this feature as Pinseeker™
- Nikon calls it First Target Priority Mode®
- Leupold calls it PinHunter
Frequently Asked Questions About Golf Rangefinders
How can a rangefinder help improve my game?
Choosing the appropriate club for your next shot is crucial. A key piece of information golfers use when making that determination is their distance from the target, and rangefinders quickly provide that information.
Many golfers of all skill levels—from beginner to Tour pro—rely on laser rangefinders to acquire the course information needed to execute golf shots with confidence and success.
Are golf rangefinders difficult to use?
In the most basic terms, all rangefinders have two features in common: a power button and a fire button. Although rangefinders have a vast array of additional functionalities, those two buttons are the only ones necessary to use the device for basic purposes.
Simply power on the device, spot your target in the ocular (within your device’s range) and press the fire button to receive yardage to your target within seconds. Golf rangefinders may vary in how they look, but all share that same level of simplicity.
What objects can my golf rangefinder target and how do I know when it has locked in?
As a rule, rangefinders can target and provide distances to any object that is visible and within your device’s range. Targetable objects can include trees, bunkers, water hazards and virtually any object viewable through the ocular.
In terms of range, lower-end rangefinders can provide yardage for targets 5 to 400 yards away and are accurate to within plus or minus 1 yard, while higher-end rangefinders can provide yardage for targets 5 to 1,300 yards away and are also accurate to within plus or minus 1 yard.
Some golf rangefinders also feature a scan mode, in which you can scan a landscape and quickly receive yardages to multiple targets. While some rangefinders feature weather-resistant features, the efficacy and accuracy of your rangefinder may also depend on course and weather conditions. Always consult the product description or user manual to learn more about the specific capabilities of each device.
Rangefinders typically display the yardage within the ocular screen once the device has locked in on a target. When targeting the pin, some rangefinders will produce a vibration or discreet sound to notify the user it has locked in. Unless the rangefinder has slope functionality engaged, it is to be assumed that this yardage measurement is purely line of sight—the golfer will need to accommodate for any elevation or environmental factors.
What is slope technology and is it legal for tournament play?
All rangefinder devices use high-frequency lasers to provide line-of-sight yardage to the pin or target. Devices equipped with slope technology calculate and adjust yardage readouts based on the degree of incline or decline between the device and its target. Many golfers opt for devices with slope technology because they eliminate the additional guesswork of accommodating for elevation change, which can sometimes mean the difference between one or two clubs.
For instance, Golfer A has a standard rangefinder, while Golfer B has a slope-enabled rangefinder. If both golfers stood on the tee of a perfectly flat, 150-yard Par 3, both of their devices would calculate distance to the pin at 150 yards. However, if both golfers stood on the tee of a slightly uphill, 150-yard Par 3, each golfer would receive very different yardage information between their devices. Golfer A (standard rangefinder) would receive a distance reading of 150 yards, while Golfer B (slope-enabled rangefinder) would receive a distance reading of 160 yards because the device is accounting for the distance added due to the elevation change.
As outlined in the Rules of Golf, the use of slope technology is illegal during tournament or competitive play. For handicapping purposes, golfers may use a device which measures distance only—devices that measure slope, wind speed, etc. are deemed illegal. To adhere to this rule, many rangefinders include face plates or mode selectors that allow golfers to disable illegal technologies for legal use. It is always best for golfers to review the latest Rules of Golf and any Local Rules before play.