For the last few years now, there has been a rather friendly debate going on in the golf world about the usefulness of various types of distance measurement devices. You don’t have to rely on guesstimates on your part, nor on sprinkler heads and white stakes every now and then.
With a laser rangefinder or GPS, you can get a much more precise reading on the distance, plus you get other types of information that can really improve your play. But which one is actually better?
Of course, you can pick according to your own personal likes. But if we want to really make sure you’re making the right choice, let’s take a closer look at each option:
Laser Rangefinder or GPS for Golf
These laser rangefinders work by emitting a laser beam to your target, and when that beam is reflected back into the unit the rangefinder then calculates the distance based on the time needed for the beam to be reflected back.
- With the use of lasers, you will get extremely accurate readings when you do it right. Once you’re sure you’re focused on the target, the distance measurement you get is accurate within 1 yard. In some cases, rangefinders are known to be accurate within half a yard. There may even be special features like “pin lock” so you can get the precise distance to the flag.
- Lasers are also a lot more versatile. You can use it on any golf course in the world. In fact, you can also use it for many other activities such as hunting.
- These things are also extremely easy to use. You point it at a target, press a button, and you get your reading telling you the distance. That’s it. You’ll get the distance reading almost instantaneously.
- Prices are falling too. There was a time when these things were all extremely expensive, but nowadays they’re much more affordable. You can find several good ones without going over $200.
- This operates on line-of-sight, so if you can’t see your target, you can’t know how far it is from you. That can be a problem on some greens when you can’t see the pins. You may also not be able to target the back or front of a green.
- If you’re not careful, you can get a wrong reading. So if you have shaky hands, there’s a problem. The same goes if there’s fog or rain that can mess up the laser beam. You may also be unknowingly focusing on a tree branch because you don’t have enough magnification or light gathering capacity for the lens.
These devices locate your position by connecting to GPS satellites. Your position is then superimposed on a supplied map, so you can find out your distance to various targets.
- You can use GPS for golf without having to pay anything at all. Everyone has a smartphone these days, and all of these things have built-in GPS devices. You can then just install an app for free so you can use your smartphone for golf. Some apps may come with a price, but they’re invariably not all that expensive.
- A GPS device can also come in various designs. If you don’t want a smartphone app, you can get a standalone GPS device. This can be a small handheld unit that resembles a keychain or can be a wristwatch.
- With GPS, you don’t care about line-of-sight or environmental concerns like rain.
- You also get plenty of info with GPS, though that’s mainly because of the map. It’s much easier for you to plan for how you will attack a particular hole.
- GPS devices may take a while to sync with the satellites to get you a reading. But they’re actually more able to speed up the pace of the play. That’s because when you get to the ball after your shot, your GPS device has already noted where you are in relation to the course map. With laser rangefinders, you have to get to the ball and then whip out the device to get a measurement.
- You’re also more likely to get the true horizontal distance to your target than with lasers. GPS devices tend to inherently ignore inclines and declines. With lasers, you only get direct line-of-sight
- The distance readings you get from GPS devices aren’t as accurate as readings from laser rangefinders. There’s also no way for you to get an exact yardage to the flag.
- It’s true that most golf courses are included in most GPS devices. Still, it’s possible that your GPS device may not have a map of the brand new golf course you’re playing on.
- GPS devices aren’t as easy to use as rangefinders either. While they may not be overly complicated, they’re not always very simple either.
Which One to Get?
That’s up to you. Just make absolutely sure, whether you’re getting laser rangefinder or GPS, that the unit you buy is legal to use for the golf courses and tournaments you usually play in.