Are Rangefinders Worth It?
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Are Rangefinders Worth It?

Are you considering whether purchasing a rangefinder is a worthy investment for your golf game? Let’s start with answering that question straight away. Yes, buying a rangefinder is absolutely worth it. 

The massive acceleration of technology in golf has not just applied to golf clubs, but accessories too. There are now so many different types and models of rangefinders available on the market. It can be confusing to know what device you actually need or how much to spend.

In this article we will take you through the benefits of using a rangefinder as well as what to look for in a good one. We will cover different types of technology that are used in various models. Plus, we will discuss what is available at different price points. You might be surprised how cheap you can now purchase an excellent rangefinder!

What is a rangefinder?

Simply, a rangefinder is a distance measuring device. When talking about rangefinders golfers are typically referring to ‘laser rangefinders’. These devices omit a laser, which bounces off the object it is pointed at (most commonly the pin). The device calculates the time taken for the laser beam to return and uses this to display a distance measurement.

This is different from a golf GPS device, which uses satellite mapping to measure distances. They require golf courses to be downloaded prior to playing and can be found in handheld or watch devices. 

Technology Features

Slope

A common addition to many modern rangefinders is Slope Technology. This takes into account the change in distance for an uphill or downhill shot and gives you an adjusted yardage.

This is an excellent feature to show you how much slope can affect the club you need to hit to an elevated or low green. Many professional golf caddies use this feature to help them when mapping out a yardage book during practice rounds. 

However, it is currently not legal to use in competitions approved by the USGA. So, if you play in competitions, but also want a rangefinder with Slope Technology, then it is important to choose a model that can easily turn this feature off.

Pin Acquisition (Jolt)

Pin Acquisition or Jolt Technology gives a small vibration when you lock-on to the target. Sometimes golfers can find rangefinders tricky to keep steady when pointing at the flag, so this is a helpful feature to ensure accurate measurements.

Water and fog proofing

Depending on where you play your golf, most all year round golfers are likely to experience at least some inclement weather. So, if you are not just a fair weather golfer, having waterproof and fogproof protection is important for the useability and durability of your rangefinder.

Accuracy

There are now some rangefinders that are giving distance readings to within 0.1 yard of accuracy. Some golfers will think a measurement of 0.1 yards is ridiculous. But, it can help give an extra element of confidence in the reading and there will be some elite golfers that like to know their wedge distances to less than 1 yard.

Range Capacity

The range capacity of some rangefinders can be over 1,000 yards. For example, the Volvik V1 Laser Rangefinder has a Pin Finder function that will give you accurate readings up to 1,200 yards. In general though, the range capacity for most golfers becomes largely redundant above 350 yards.

Magnification

The ideal amount of magnification used on the display for the laser is personal preference. Most rangefinders tend to use 6x magnification, however you can also find 5x or 7x too. It is helpful to test out each of the options to know what you like best. 

Continuous Scanning

A Scan Mode is an additional feature sometimes found on newer rangefinder models. This mode allows you to continually scan between different areas for multiple yardages. It is helpful for easily finding out how far various hazards are off the tee.

Benefits of a rangefinder

Relying on distance markers and course guides will always require guesswork. Rangefinders give accurate yardages to the pin, hazards or other objects on the golf course allowing you to be able to know exactly how far you need to hitting the golf ball. 

You can use rangefinders to find out how far you hit each of your golf clubs, which is also imperative to making the most out of this device. Combined with accurate distance measurements, you can then decide what club to hit. 

Even a golfer just starting out on the course will find benefit from using a rangefinder. No, they won’t improve your golf shot. But, with more knowledge about your game and improving your club selection, you are bound to see an improvement in results.

An additional benefit to rangefinders is that they can help speed up play as well. You won’t have to manually pace the distance from the nearest marker or spend ages staring at your yardage book. Instead you can use a rangefinder and know your yardage in seconds.

The only downside is if you regularly play a golf course with lots of blind approach shots. Rangefinders can only measure distances of objects you can see. So, if your cannot see the flagstick from the fairway on lots of holes of your home course, you might want to consider a GPS device instead.

What rangefinder should I buy?

Buying a rangefinder does not need to cost a fortune. What rangefinder you get should be determined by how seriously you take your golf and what budget you have. 

It is important to think about what features you consider essential, how regularly you play and what standard of golfer you are.

Are you a casual golfer that just wants to know the distance to the hole? You could definitely find a lower budget model that meets your requirements. For example, the GoGoGo Sport VPro is currently available on Amazon for $65 and it even comes with Jolt Technology too. However, there will often be sacrifices with some features lacking, potentially less shelf appeal or lower durability.

Alternatively, are you a keen golfer that likes the latest gadets? Well, then a rangefinder such as the Bushnell Pro XE has extra features including slope technology, durable waterproofing, PinSeeker technology and a magnetic mount. However, this model will set you back over $500.

Final Thoughts

Rangefinders are a great piece of golf equipment that many golfers now consider an essential part of the their golf bag. If you are still on the fence, I suggest trying to get your hands a one to use from your golfing friends or ask if the Pro Shop will let you test one. 

There are so many benefits to using a rangefinder and you can find great models on a tight budget too. As your golf shots become more consistent then a rangefinder becomes even more useful, but any golfer can benefit from knowing the correct yardage.

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