Have you ever wondered what the distance is from your ball to the flag? Golfers used to use GPS watches and other smaller gadgets. These days, the best golf rangefinder gives golfers accurate distances. Needless to say, they are not permitted during competitions on any pro tours! So don’t go getting any ideas!
Rangefinders are an alternative to a traditional yardage book. The best laser golf rangefinders giving you a clear idea of distances, slopes and other variables.
How Do Rangefinders Work?
There are three types of rangefinder, Optical, GPS and laser. GPS rangefinders require less time to determine your distance to the hole because they use measurements to known points. However they require the course to be mapped and your course might not be.
Here we are focusing on laser rangefinders which do not require the course to be mapped. To determine the distance from your position to the object in focus, the object must be in view. Aim the rangefinder at the object through the view port, pull the trigger and the rangefinder will send a laser beam to the target object. The rangefinder times how long the laser beam takes to bounce back and calculates the distance. Simply look at the distance displayed. An error in the display will mean you’ll have to repeat the process. Most golfers will have a rough idea of the distance, so they will know that the distance displayed is correct, and not the distance to a tree two miles away!
GPS Rangefinders vs Laser Rangefinders
GPS rangefinders access pre-loaded golf course data. The less expensive models may be limited to information on tees and greens; the more expensive and advanced models will include data on specific course hazards. The GPS model may require software and data updates as time goes on and even a monthly fee to cover the costs of providing these updates. However they are usually cheaper than laser rangefinders.
Laser rangefinders give you the precise yardage to the target object, they are more accurate since the measurement is in “real time”. They are generally easy to operate once you know which button to press. Scan mode gives you accurate distances to multiple targets. They are usually more expensive then GPS models.
How To Choose The Best Golf Rangefinder
With so many options and features and dozens of available models, it is good idea to consider all the important elements before you make that tough decision on which one to buy. Here are some features to think about.
Laser rangefinders are the most accurate device for measuring the distance to the pin but they do require line of sight and they require aiming – a shaky hand might be a problem! Of course, they may be of less help to beginners since beginners may not be able to hit the ball the required distance. However it is still very helpful to know the exact distance.
Some courses have reflector prisms on top of the flagstick – these will give you a perfect reading. Using a laser rangefinder, you choose the target object which gives you ultimate flexibility. Using a GPS rangefinder, you only have the option of using mapped points which limits your ability to fix a particular distance.
But beware of the claims of the manufacturers stating that their product is accurate to within a yard. These claims may sometimes bend the truth a little. So, some research is vital.
Modern rangefinders come with different magnifications, up to 7x. The minimum you should contemplate is 5x. Some golfers comment that 5x is not quite enough and 7x is a bit too much, so 6x magnification would seem to be a logical choice.
The prices of rangefinders vary a lot. Clearly, there is no need to spend 300 dollars when one half the price does a decent job. But will the cheap model suit you? It’s always about value for money.
Easy to Use
Your rangefinder has to be easy to use. The last thing you want to do is upset your playing partners by taking an age to establish a particular distance. So, check out all the buttons and operations beforehand – more research. The information in the display must be easily readable and quick to read.
Think about it, you really don’t need a super expensive rangefinder that gives you an accurate measurement beyond, say, 500 yards. What you do need is a rangefinder that gives accurate readings for those short and medium iron shots.
This is a very useful feature. The way it works is, you press the scan mode button and wait a few seconds (hoping your playing partners don’t mind), then after scanning the green area, you’ll see a few different measurements. Since, only low handicappers target the flag, the average golfer only needs to target a circular area around the flag or the center of the green, even safer. Given this range of measurements, you can select the right club.
When rangefinders were first introduced, most models didn’t take into account the undulations and slopes on the golf course. A standard rangefinder without slope makes the assumption that you’re aiming at a target that’s level with your position, so it’s not uphill or downhill from you. The problem is your uphill shot will travel shorter than one at a level target because the ball has less time to travel to the target before it hits the ground. As technology improved, the slope feature became more common.
Slope works by modifying measurements allowing for changes in elevation between you and the target. The USGA initially banned this feature but now rangefinders where the slope feature can be turned off, are allowed – you can use the rangefinder but the slope feature must be turned off in tournament golf.
Size and Weight
They come in different shapes and sizes, so choose a rangefinder that is not too big and heavy but is not too tiny to operate. Does it fit comfortably in your hand? Is it easy to get hold of and put away in your golf bag?
Now you’ve got all the important information on what to look for in a rangefinder, it’s time to get onto the best rangefinders on the market!
Our Best Rangefinder Reviews – The Top 10!
The TecTecTec VPRO500 uses the latest technology, making it more accurate and flexible than any other measuring device. It perfectly measures distances quickly, letting you improve your game like a pro. This laser rangefinder even has diopter adjustment functionality to provide a clear view. Whether you’re near or farsighted, you’ll be able to see the object you’re measuring clearly and find its distance using our fast-measuring technology.
Three different scanning modes
The VPRO500 has three different scanning modes that are suitable for every situation. Its advanced Pinsensor lets you accurately measure overlapping targets and is perfect for measuring the distance to pin location and wooded areas! Its measurement locking function will give you even greater confidence!
This laser rangefinder provides the true measurement accurate within +/- 1 yard, helping you to find the distance to flags, trees or hazards. After one look through its multilayer lens, you’ll have a comprehensive idea of the surroundings so you can bring your game to the next level.
Comes with accessories
The rangefinder comes fully equipped with a premium carrying pouch, free CR2 battery, wrist strap, microfiber cleaning cloth and quick start guide for easy setup! The shock-resistant case guards against impact and poor weather. A smart, high visibility, yellow design lets you easily find your VPRO500.
- Premium product, measures up to 540 yards
- Pinsensor technology, fast accurate measurement
- Multilayered optics, 6x magnification
- Lightweight and portable
- Many accessories
- 1 year warranty
Excellent rangefinder and customer service, great value, 6x magnification, large lens provides a clear view
The new COOLSHOT 20 delivers world-class performance in a compact and lightweight body. With the speed, precision, and optical quality of the COOLSHOT 20, this rangefinder can help you develop club distance proficiency on the driving range and game management skills on the golf course.
At just 4.4 ounces, the COOLSHOT 20 is also the most compact model in the Nikon Golf line. Even though this rangefinder is unbelievably small, it delivers big on precision. This easy to use tool can fit comfortably in any pocket or golf bag so there’s no excuse for not using it on every shot.
Push the Power button and the rangefinder will continuously range for eight seconds. This is great when trying to find measurements of multiple or very small or thin objects.
The COOLSHOT 20 will give you the distance reading of the closest targeted object amongst a group of objects. This is extremely beneficial when ranging a flagstick in front of a group of trees.
- Compact lightweight body
- 8 second continuous scanning
- First target priority mode
- 6x magnification
Very satisfied customers, great value for money, bright and clear rangefinder, no slope feature, no pinseeker feature
Bushnell Tour V4 Rangefinder Bushnell Golf brings you the next evolution of PinSeeker with Jolt Technology in the Tour V4 Rangefinder. This laser rangefinder packs an unbelievable feature set into a smaller, more ergonomically sound form factor. The Tour V4 has the PinSeeker with Jolt Technology you love and delivers the unrivaled accuracy you come to expect from Bushnell in a smaller and faster package.
Bushnell jolt technology provides you with short vibrating bursts to reinforce the laser is locked onto the flag. The Tour V4 is legal for tournament play and provides ranges from 5 to 1,000 yards with one yard accuracy. It provides yardages to flags from as far as 400 yards out. The Tour V4 is perfect for golfers of all abilities. A carry case and battery are included. Comes with a two-year limited warranty.
- PinSeeker with Jolt technology
- Slope feature, easy to toggle on and off
- Accurate from 5 to 1,000 yards
- 5x magnification, fast focus
- Legal for tournament play
- Accessories, premium carry case, battery, 2-year warranty
- Top quality, 2 year warranty
More expensive, but great quality, awesome engineering, it just works. A great choice.
To play your best golf you need correct distance information. The NX7 Pro Laser Rangefinder is the ultimate in golf rangefinder performance featuring Adaptive Slope and Pulse Vibration Technologies.
The Adaptive Slope Technology allows you to toggle between elevation measuring slope and tournament legal non-slope mode. The Pulse Vibration Technology combined with our (TAG) Target Acquisition Technology gives a quick pulse when locked on to the target ensuring accurate distances to the target, not what’s behind it.
Adaptive Slope Technology (USGA Legal) allows you to toggle between elevation measuring slope and tournament legal non-slope modes.
Target Acquisition Technology scans objects in your field of view and focuses in on your desired target to ensure accuracy.
Pulse Vibration Technology gives a quick pulse when locked on to the target.
- Adaptive slope technology (USGA legal)
- Pulse vibration technology
- Target acquisition technology
- Accurate to 1 yard, 400 yard range
- Water resistant, shock proof
- 6x magnification
- Battery replacements, 2 year warranty
Spot on with yardages and dependable with heavy use, customers love it, highly recommended. One of the best golf rangefinders for the money.
The TecTecTec VPRO500S uses the latest technology and is highly accurate and flexible when compared to other measuring devices. It perfectly measures distances quickly thanks to its clear 6x magnification and multilayer coating that let you improve your game like a pro. The VPRO500S has slope compensation technology that calculates the elevation adjusted distance.
The VPRO500S has different scanning modes that are suitable for every situation. Its advanced Pinsensor lets you accurately measure overlapping targets and is perfect for measuring the distance to pin location and wooded areas. Its measurement locking function will give you even greater confidence.
The rangefinder comes fully equipped with a premium carrying pouch, free CR2 battery, wrist strap, microfiber cleaning cloth and quick start guide for easy setup. The shock-resistant case guards against impact and poor weather.
- 2017 edition tournament legal
- 540 yard range
- Pinsensor technology
- Slope estimated distance mode
- 6x magnification, multilayer coating
- 2 year warranty
Very accurate distances, useful slope mode, great value, scan mode works even with slope mode
The Callaway 300 Pro Golf Laser Rangefinder offers pin-seeking precision in a sleek, sophisticated design. Exclusive Pin Acquisition Technology (P.A.T.) lets you lock onto the pin from up to 300 yards away, ensuring accuracy even when trees and other objects are in the background.
Exclusive Birdie feature delivers audible ‘chirp’ to confirm distance acquisition to flagstick.
Slope measurement technology measures angle of incline or decline then automatically calculates the slope adjusted distance. The slope function can be turned off with the click of a button, which makes the Callaway 300 Pro legal for tournament play.
The highest quality 6x magnification allows for easy pin targeting and landscape scanning to acquire multiple targets. Range of 5-1000 yards (5-300 yards to the flag).
Easy to read LCD display shows yards/meters to the target, Zero-In Aiming technology, P.A.T. (Pin Acquisition Technology) indicator, and slope information.
- Slope measurement
- 6x magnification
- Range to 1,000 yards with 1 yard accuracy
- Pin acquisition technology
- Exclusive “birdie” feature to confirm distance
- Scan functionality provides distances to multiple targets
Very consistent yardages regardless of distance, slope measurement is a great feature, highly recommended
The Bushnell Tour V4 Rangefinder Patriot Pack is Bushnell’s newest addition to an award winning line of golf laser rangefinders. TOUR V4 features PinSeeker technology with JOLT, allowing the golfer to easily and quickly “zero” in on the flag without acquiring background targets. The Tour V4 weighs a mere 5.6 ounces and is made to fit into the palm of your hand.
This rangefinder also features an adjustable eyepiece, 5x magnification, and is capable of providing distance from 5 to 1000 yards with one yard accuracy. Like other Bushnell laser rangefinders, the Tour V4 is not dependent upon reflectors, and will provide distance to trees, bunkers, and virtually any object on any golf course in the world.
The Tour V4 Patriot Pack Includes a Tour V4 laser rangefinder, premium carry case, battery and blue silicone protective skin. The Tour V4 with Pinseeker emits invisible, eye safe, infrared energy pulses. The Advanced Digital microprocessor and ASIC chip (Application-
Specific Integrated Circuit) results in instantaneous and accurate readings every time. Sophisticated digital technology instantaneously calculates distances by measuring the time it takes for each pulse to travel from the rangefinder, to the target, and back.
The ranging accuracy of the TOUR V4 is plus or minus one yard/meter under most circumstances. The maximum range of the instrument depends on the reflectivity of the target. The maximum distance for most objects is 700 yards/640 meters while for highly reflective objects the maximum is 1000 yards/914 meters.
- Pinseeker with Jolt technology
- 1,000 yard range, accurate to one yard
- 5x magnification, fast focus
- 2 year limited warranty
- Premium carry case, battery
Locks on quickly, excellent magnification, vibrates when flag is located, easy to use
All of Bushnell Golf’s industry-leading laser rangefinder innovations are packed into the Pro X2.
Tour-trusted Slope-Switch Technology engages Bushnell Golf’s patented Slope Technology to give the golfer compensated distance based the hole’s incline/decline – and turns off for a USGA-conforming device when needed.
PinSeeker with JOLT Technology eliminates any doubt that you have locked onto the flag. All of it is wrapped in fully-waterproof metal housing.
With the simple press of the Mode button, the exclusive Dual Display Technology allows the user to easily toggle between a bright red vivid display or sharp black display based on lighting conditions or personal preference.
Slope compensation calculates and adjusts yardage depending on the degree of slope.
- Slope switch technology
- Dual display technology
- Pinseeker with Jolt
- 6x magnification, accurate to 1 yard
- Ranges 1,300 yards
- 2 year warranty, check first
Expensive choice, very compact, no scan feature, great technology
A laser rangefinder that has all the features you love and expect, but no more annoying, expensive CR-2 batteries! With their latest technology, Saybien has released this premium lithium-ion rangefinder that can be recharged with a USB cable and wall charger (included).
This state of the art rangefinder boasts impressive accuracy within a yard, while remaining small, lightweight (just over half a pound), and very ergonomic.
It features 2 modes, with or without slope, ideal for golf, hunting or target shooting.
When you have objects behind your target and you aren’t sure if you have the right target, golf scan mode will let you know when you’ve got the shorter target. You will have confidence you’ve found your distance to the target, flag, trees, or hazards. No more need to waste time searching for a distance on cart paths or sprinkler heads with Saybien’s quick measurement.
The SS-1200 comes with a premium carrying case, microfiber cleaning cloth, wrist strap, USB wall charger, charging cable, and user manual. Set up is easy and usage is exceptionally intuitive.
- Long-lasting lithium-ion battery recharges with USB cable, no more batteries
- Range to 1,200 yards
- Continuous scan and slope mode, tournament legal when deactivated
- 6x magnification, adjust for clear image
- Lightweight, portable, carrying case
- 100% satisfaction of your money back (within 60 days)
- 1 year limited warranty
Charges quickly, very reasonable price, easy to operate, recommended
Vibration lock technology makes Pinsightz unique in the category. Don’t settle for a range finder without this as it makes finding and locking onto your target easier and more accurate.
Other notable differences: exceptional range, with a maximum of 656 yards or 600 meters. Advanced modes ranging, scan, speed km/mph, flagpole or subject lock, golf distance correction, vertical height measurements, horizontal distance measurements and fog suppression.
Adjustable eyepiece, 6x magnification, 21 mm objective lens, multi-coated optics,
water resistant and light weight (5.4 oz), allowing for ease of use and portability in any situation. Fits perfect in a golf bag or pocket great for golf, hunting and racing! (1year warranty). Vibration lock technology (verify your subject with vibration for better accuracy).
Quick start guide and easy to read manual for instant ease of use. The rangefinder system includes: laser range finder, cr2 3v battery, cleaning cloth, portable carrying case with belt mountable case and lanyard.
- Pinsightz 100% money back guarantee
- Range 656 yards, accurate to 1 yard
- Vibration lock technology, ranging, scan
- Adjustable eyepiece, 6x magnification, multi coated optics
- Water resistant, lightweight
- 1 year warranty
Great value for money, recommended
Are Golf Rangefinders Legal?
Golf has evolved hugely since it began over 600 years ago in Scotland (the Dutch may claim 700 years ago!). Improvements in ball and club technology have been so great in even the past 15 years that the game is completely different in the modern era compared to the eras of Ben Hogan and Bobby Jones.
Laser rangefinders are part of that change, utilizing technology originally developed for military and medical use which dates back to the late 1950’s. Sniper teams depend on accurate distance estimates when determining the impact of wind, gravity and whether a target is within range.
The first laser range finder units built for use in golf were introduced in 1955 by Bushnell, which remains the largest producer of rangefinders.
Are they USGA legal?
The answer is yes, as long as they only measure distance.
In 2006, the USGA and R&A introduced a change to Rule 14-3 which had prohibited the use of distance measuring devices. The new rule permits the use of distance measuring devices (not slope, or wind speed or direction) as a local rule – meaning that local course rules would determine whether allowed or not. In 2014, distance measuring devices were allowed for use in all amateur events.
And it seems that the banning of slope measuring technology is here to stay, for now anyway.
The penalty for breaching the rule was revised in the USGA Rules of Golf in 2016 to two strokes in stroke play or the loss of hole in match play. A second breach would call for disqualification. These rules are in effect for a 4-year period through 2020.
The USGA does review all rangefinders and rules whether each conforms with the rules. It’s important to note that some models of rangefinders have a feature to disable the slope measuring feature – even going as far as having a faceplate that can be removed to disable it. This feature was intended to allow rules officials observing play to be able to easily know if the player has the slope feature enabled simply by looking for the faceplate.
Rangefinder manufacturers will probably eventually find a way to appease the USGA in this area. Most casual golfers won’t mind your use of slope-measuring rangefinders but check with your playing partners or organizers before you tee off to confirm whether you can use a slope-enabled rangefinder or not.
Golf purists tend to disapprove of rangefinders in golf as giving an unfair advantage and not in the spirit of the game, believing that the technology making its way into clubs dilutes the level of skill needed to excel at the game.
Getting The Most From Your Laser Rangefinder
Off the course
Your new laser rangefinder is going to give you accurate distances at the press of a button. But are you up to the golf shot? You need to get real about the distances you can hit the ball with each club, no pretending! You need to establish average distances, not the best or worst. For example, on average you hit a 7-iron 150 yards.
The first thing to do with your rangefinder at the range is to test the flag distances because you’ll need to know that the 150 yard flag is really 150 yards away.
At the range, make a note of how far you hit the ball with your 7-iron 20 times – write down all the distances and divide by 20. That is your average distance for that club.
Now repeat the process for all the clubs, apart from your putter!
So next time you look into your rangefinder and see 180 yards to the flag, you’ll know which club to use.
On the course
It’s actually quite easy to use a laser rangefinder. Be aware of wind direction, slope of the fairway, hazards and rough. Measure a few other targets around the green which will give you a bit more information and feel for the right club.
The other thing is, try and avoid slow play and annoying your playing partners by selecting your target as you walk up to your ball, then quickly finding the range and distance. Use your laser rangefinder sensibly, do not spend minutes before each shot with your new toy, you’ll soon run out of golfing buddies!
Why use a rangefinder
Scientific studies reveal that we are not very good at estimating distances. Laser rangefinders do this job very well. During the days before a major tournament, you’ll find the caddies of the top players recording accurate distances on all the holes to fill their yardage books. The top players are, of course, amazingly good at hitting a ball a precise distance. Job done.
- So that you will know the exact distance to a particular target
- To save you time looking for fairway distance markers and pacing out the difference, and anyway you have to guess that difference
- To get accurate on distances on golf courses you have never played before
- To get an accurate distance to a particular tree or other target on a dogleg hole, which is extremely useful
- To learn how far you hit a golf ball with a particular club
- To measure distances to fairway bunkers to work out how far you need to carry the ball
- The magnified view of the green is a great help on courses you haven’t played before
Why not to use a rangefinder
The pin shouldn’t always be your target, the distance to the flag is not the whole story, you always need front and back of green distances too
You tend to fixate on yardage whilst ignoring other information that will influence your shot
You may start over-using it to the annoyance of your playing partners.
Top players want to know exact yardages because they can hit the ball a precise distance, you can’t
A GPS rangefinder on your smart phone is often much quicker to use, it will give you all the yardages without being pinpoint accurate