- What makes a great rangefinder?
- Bushnell Pro X2 Jolt Slope Rangefinder
- The Best Rangefinder for the Value
- BUSHNELL TOUR V4 SLOPE RANGEFINDER
- The Best Rangefinder for the Money
- TecTecTec VPRO500
- What Type of Distance Finder is Best?
- GPS Devices
- Smartphone Apps
- Laser Rangefinders
- What to Consider when Buying a Rangefinder
- History and Legality of Rangefinders
- Off-Brand Rangefinders
- Doesn’t the Course Give You Distances Already?
- Getting the Most Out of Your Rangefinder
After testing and sifting through thousands of reviews of the best golf rangefinders on the market, here are my picks –
What makes a great rangefinder?
If you’re looking for a rangefinder, you’re trying to find an easy way to determine distances on the golf course. There are a variety tools that serve this task. Hopefully you’re looking for this distance to the pin, in yards. If you golf like we golf, you may be looking for the distance to the fairway… from the woods.
Besides distance to the pin, golfers also want to know:
- Distance to a bunker
- Distance to a water hazard
- Distance to the front of the green
- How long until the beverage cart returns
A rangefinder is one of the easier ways to improve your golf game. Why? Well knowing accurate distances goes a long way in helping with club selection. Sure, it might not help your swing, but knowing the right club to use out on the course provides an advantage.
If you are one of those golfers that practices, you can even use a rangefinder to dial in your yardages when practicing at the driving range.
If you want the best golf rangefinder on the market, you need to check out the Bushnell Pro X2 Jolt Slope Rangefinder. Yes, it is expensive – it retails for $500 – but it has the features to back up the price.
You will need a really nasty hook to take full advantage of the X2’s insane range. The only golf application I can think would require this type of range is seeing how far away the beverage cart is.
It can lock on to the flag from up to 450 yards away, which is handy for when you are thinking about driving the green.
The viewfinder offers 6x magnification, the product is fully waterproof, and there is a limited 2-year warranty.
The Pro X2 will give you a measurement with precision of up to half a yard.
Feeling the Jolt
If you have used a laser rangefinder you know one of the main drawbacks is the uncertainty about what you are actually measuring. Are you measuring the distance to the flag or something behind the green instead.
To eliminate that uncertainty, Bushnell uses “Jolt Technology”. When the rangefinder does lock on the flag, you will feel a slight vibration in the unit to tell you that you are getting the correct measurement.
Instead of measuring two or three times to confirm your number, you can just measure once, feel the Jolt, and move on with your shot.
Get a Good Look
The Bushnell Pro X2 has “Vivid Display Technology”. This means an MBA found a fancy way to say the view finder has improved brightness and resolution.
In addition to measuring basic distance, this model can adjust your yardage automatically to factor in the effect of any changes in slope.
So, if the shot you are measuring is going to be played uphill or downhill, the Bushnell Pro X2 will make the necessary adjustments to the number and provide you with a distance needed to hit the target successfully.
The Bushnell Pro X2 is designed to be fully waterproof.
- Price, no matter how you look at it this is a lot to drop on a rangefinder
- Slope feature makes the rangefinder illegal in tournament play
The Best Rangefinder for the Value
We start off our list with a model from one of the top names in the rangefinder business – Bushnell. The Tour V4 Slope Rangefinder is among their best models, with a price tag that usually comes in right around $300. One of the great features of this model, and many others in the Bushnell line – is the ‘Pinseeker’ technology. When the laser catches onto the flag, this system will quickly vibrate the unit, telling you that you have found the target successfully. Also, you can use this unit to measure up to 1,000 yards, and the viewfinder features 5x magnification. Simply put, this is among the top rangefinders on the market today.
- Range: 5-1,000 Yds; 400+ Yds to a Flag
- Accurate to 1 yd
- 5X magnification
- JOLT technology (jolts when you lock onto a pin)
- Can switch in and out of slope mode
- Dimensions: 3.11 x 1.57 x 4 in
- NOT waterproof
- LCD display
The Best Rangefinder for the Money
This rangefinder boasts measurements to within 1 yard from up to 550 yards away with excellent 6x magnification, kept clear and in focus through incredible performance from its optics.
If you are budget-minded and want to keep the purchase price on your rangefinder to a minimum while still getting a quality piece of gear, the TecTecTec VPRO500 is worth careful consideration.
Saving money is nice, but buying cheap crappy golf gear sucks.
The VPRO500 does not have all of the bells and whistles of the top-line rangefinders but it will give you accurate yardage from your ball to the target, which at the end of the day is the main feature golfers are looking for in a rangefinder.
With a total weight of just 185g, you won’t be adding anything noticeable to your bag. The rangefinder is designed to be dust and water resistant, and it can easily be used with a single hand. With just a little practice, you will be able to pick this unit up, measure your target quickly, and put it back down to proceed with your shot.
Money Back Guarantee
TecTecTec may not be a brand you have learned to trust. To help with this, the company offers a 100% money back guarantee. If you aren’t happy with your purchase for any reason, the unit can simply be returned for a full refund. With this protection in place, it is much easier to try out a model that comes from a brand which isn’t as well-recognized as some of the others on the market.
- Compact design – 104x72x41mm
- Lightweight – 185g
- Pin sensor technology for measuring objects that overlap (golf flags, trees or hazards)
- Accurate to within 1 yard over a 500-yard distance
- Lens fogs up on occasion
- Sometimes struggles to lock onto the pin
- Only available in black
What Type of Distance Finder is Best?
There are a handful of solutions available on the market. Which golf distance finder is best for you, is up to your personal preference.
There are a couple popular types of GPS devices on the market. I break them down into two categories Handheld Devices and Wearable. They all essentially serve the same purpose with the difference being how the course details are displayed and how you carry them around with you. Handheld devices can be carried in a pocket or on the golf cart where as wearables like a GPS Golf Watch are worn on your wrist or wearables like a Skycaddie may be worn on the brim of a hat.
Similar to Google Maps or other navigation apps on your smartphone, there are GPS Golf Apps which allow you to gauge the distance to the pin or course features using the builtin GPS on your iPhone or Android device. Are you looking for the cheapest option? The cheapest form of golf rangefinder is a smartphone app.
Typically what people think of when they hear golf rangefinder are laser rangefinders. These look similar to binoculars. You use an eyepiece to aim a laser at the object you want the yardage to. These devices are typically more accurate than GPS Devices and Smartphone apps but are also more difficult to use.
What to Consider when Buying a Rangefinder
Features to consider that could influence your choice are brand, size, shape, magnification, range/distance measured and accuracy, ease of use, and how you want to carry it around the course.
Of course, you want your rangefinder to offer you an accurate yardage each time you measure the distance to the flag (or another object). Fortunately, these devices are highly accurate across the board. The majority of rangefinders on the market today are accurate to at least within one yard either way – and many are more accurate than that. Compare this accuracy to your own game – are you able to dial up distances down to the half yard? Probably not. As long as you buy a decent unit from a respected manufacturer, you can count on your rangefinder being more accurate than your own game.
One of the interesting things about golf rangefinders is the constantly increasing range that is included with various models. While it might be cool to have a rangefinder that can measure distances up to 1,000 yards, what is the point? Unless you are going to be using your rangefinder for another purpose as well – such as hunting – there is simply no need for such excessive range. For the typical golfer, a rangefinder which can measure out to 350 or 400 yards will be more than enough to get the job done.
Magnification is an important point to check on as you shop, although most models available today include sufficient magnification. The benefit of having ample magnification in your rangefinder is making it easier to spot your targets in the distance. For instance, if you are trying to pick out the pin from over 200 yards away, having 5x magnification will make the task far easier than if you only had 2x or 3x. Fortunately, 5x is relatively standard at this point, and some models include even greater magnification power.
Ease of Use
Early rangefinder models could be a little challenging to use, which gave these devices a bad reputation as compared to their GPS counterparts. GPS devices are extremely easy to use, which is why many golfers opted for that style of distance measuring. However, times have changed, and rangefinders are now nearly as easy to use as GPS units. You don’t have to hold as still as you used to when using a new rangefinder, and many have ‘pinseeker’ technology to help you lock onto the target. Again on this point, it comes down to buying a quality unit. If you spend the money on a good rangefinder with modern features, you can count on it being easy to use.
Like most golf gear your budget will narrow down the field of rangefinders to select from. In general, it will cost $150 to $400 to buy a decent rangefinder. The more you pay, the better the feature set you will get hopefully from a more trusted manufacturer. You will start seeing quality devices that offer pin seeking and slope around the $250 price point.
Battery life is not something that should be high on your priority list when shopping for a rangefinder. While you do want the batteries to last a while, of course, performance in this category tends to be solid regardless of which model you select. Rangefinders are actually turned on and in use for a relatively short period of time during a round of golf, meaning the battery is not drained rapidly. It would not be at all surprising to get more than one season of performance out of your battery before it needs to be replaced.
The durability of the rangefinder you select is likely to be tied closely to the amount of money invested in the purchase. If you spend enough money to purchase a quality product near the top of the market, you will be rewarded with a durable unit. Of course, no rangefinder is going to take kindly to being run over by the cart and then assaulted with a five iron, so treat your device with care and it will be good to you as the rounds go by.
You should check to make sure that any rangefinder you purchase comes with a case. Most do, but double check just to be sure, as this is an important piece of the puzzle. Without a case, it would be difficult to keep your rangefinder in good condition over the long run. Assuming you do receive a case, use it consistently even during the middle of a round. Always put the device back in the case between shots, and clip it securely onto your bag if you are walking the course.
Pin Seeking Technology
One of the potential challenges with using a rangefinder is making sure you measure the distance to the correct object each time. Are you sure you are getting the distance to the pin, or are you accidentally measuring that tree behind the green? To take away this concern, many rangefinders are equipped with a system which will scan the field and pick out the pin automatically. Needless to say, this is a great feature. If you are a little shaky when holding a rangefinder, or if you just want the added assurance of knowing you have the right number, pick a model with some type of pin seeking technology.
In addition to finding the absolute distance to the pin, rangefinders with slope will estimate the yardage you should play a shot by taking into account the change in elevation. If you are playing a courses with elevation changes you might as well spring for one that calculates slope. Be aware that rangefinders that calculate slope are typically not legal in tournament play.
Ease of use
Often golfers find that ease of use is very important out on the course. Golf is frustrating enough before adding confusing technology to the mix. Out on the course, you do not want to be having to remember too many buttons to push just to get the range to the pin, so something that is easy to use and operates in a “point and click” manner is often the way to go.
Tip: Consider the time of day you will be using your rangefinder. You will want a rangefinder that works well in low light conditions if you like your round of golf early in the morning or towards the end of the afternoon.
Size and weight
Some of the rangefinders on the market today are extremely compact and lightweight – they fit easily in the palm of your hand, and slide neatly into a small case. However, there are also models which are quite large and rather heavy as well. Which should you choose? Most likely, you will want to make this decision based on your mode of transportation around the course. If you usually walk the course with your bag on your back, opting for a lighter model is a logical pick. Clip the case onto your bag in a convenient location, and don’t worry about adding a significant amount of weight to your load. On the other hand, if you always ride in a power cart, you aren’t going to care much about heft. In that case, feel free to pick out whichever rangefinder meets your needs, regardless of size.
History and Legality of Rangefinders
The Rules of Golf are often slow to permit the use of new technologies, such as rangefinders. While laser rangefinders have been used for many years in a variety of applications – such as hunting, – they are a relatively new to the world of golf.
Traditionally, there were a couple of ways to obtain a yardage on the golf course. The first was through markings on the course such as on the cart path, sprinkler heads, and more. For years, it was a common to see players ‘walking off’ the distance between one of these markers and their ball in order to get a yardage. While this system worked fairly well, it is time consuming and something of a hassle. Also, depending on the ability of a given golfer to pace off their yardage, the final number that is determined may or may not be entirely accurate.
When the rangefinder arrived on the scene, all of that changed. Rather than pacing around the course, players were now able to obtain an extremely accurate (in most cases) yardage within just a fraction of a second. In addition to making the game more convenient, and in many cases more fun, this revelation also has the potential to positively impact pace of play. Anyone who has used a laser rangefinder can attest to the way these simple devices greatly improve the experience of playing golf.
However, there is a small point that most golfers do not understand – rangefinders are still illegal under the rules of golf. Despite the fact that they are commonly seen on golf courses all across the country, rangefinders are disallowed under Rule 14-3 which restricts the use of ‘any artificial device or unusual equipment for the purpose of gauging distance or conditions which might affect play’.
Why are rangefinders still around if they’re banned?
So how are so many people using rangefinders when they are explicitly ruled out in the Rules of Golf? In 2006, the USGA allowed for the use of a Local Rule which can permit the use of distance measuring devices, as long as they only measure distance (not slope, wind, etc.).
When the Local Rule is in effect, players can freely use their distance-only rangefinders without penalty. Models that include slope or other features are always illegal under the rules, no matter what kind of Local Rule is put in play.
If you are playing a casual round with your friends, feel free to use your rangefinder to obtain all of the distances you need. However, if you are playing in a tournament, you will need to check to ensure that the Local Rule regarding rangefinders has been put into use. Most tournaments do allow them to be used, but it is smart to double check anyway before you head to the first tee.
On the PGA Tour, the Local Rule has not been adopted, so players at that level are not able to use rangefinders during competition. They do, however, use them in practice rounds to record important yardages for use later.
When shopping for any product – such as if you’re on the lookout for the best mallet putter or anything else – there is always the temptation to buy an off-brand in order to save some money. Nearly every name brand product in existence faces competition from an off-brand imitator who offers to provide the same basic functions for a lower cost. When it comes to rangefinders, is it a good idea to go this direction in order to save a few bucks? Well, that all depends on your needs, your budget, and more.
First, the basic function of a golf rangefinder is extremely simple – to measure the distance, in yards, between two locations. So, as you stand in the fairway next to your ball, the rangefinder is tasked with measuring the distance between your ball and the flag (or any other object that you are going to use for a target). With that in mind, it might seem like any old rangefinder could do the job. After all, if it can measure distance, that’s the end of the story – right? Not necessarily.
Considerations when finding the best golf rangefinders
You might be able to locate an off-brand rangefinder which can measure distance accurately, but there are other capabilities that need to be considered. First, how durable is the product? You aren’t going to intentionally ‘beat up’ your rangefinder, but it is likely to get knocked around a bit during the course of a round (especially if you walk the course). You don’t want to purchase a rangefinder only to have it break down after a couple of rounds, so durability is a real concern with lesser brands.
Also, you want to think about the lifespan of the battery included with the rangefinder at purchase. If you are going to have to buy a new battery in short order, you might end up spending just as much money as you would have spent buying a model from a respected brand leader. To determine how long the battery may last in a given model, you can use the reviews found online from previous buyers to gain some insight. If battery life – or any other specific point – seems to be a problem, you might want to think twice about your purchase.
The last thing to think about in this debate is the matter of just how much money you stand to save. Is the savings really going to be worth dealing with a lower quality product? For example, if you are considering two options – a brand name model at $200 and an off-brand option at $150 – is saving $50 enough to make it worth downgrading to a lesser product? Only you can make that choice for yourself, but the answer is often going to be ‘no’ for many golfers. If you are going to bother investing in a rangefinder to improve your experience on the course, it usually will make sense to buy a product from a trusted and respected brand.
Doesn’t the Course Give You Distances Already?
Well, yes, it does. However, those distances have some limitations. First, they are only provided at certain increments – often at 100/150/200. So, if you are around 125 yards from the green, you are going to have to walk 25 yards in either direction to confirm your yardage. Also, those numbers are only measured to the middle of the green, as they cannot take into account the location of the flag on that particular day. While some yardages will be provided on the course, a rangefinder is a better.
Getting the Most Out of Your Rangefinder
Generally speaking, rangefinders are quite easy to use. Once you have a little bit of time to get comfortable with the device, you should be able to pick out distances quickly and easily. With that said, there are a few tips we can offer to help you get the most out of owning one of these units. Check out the advice below to make sure you are using your rangefinder to its full potential.
- Measure more than the flag. Sure, you are going to use your rangefinder to obtain yardages to the flag, but you can do much more than that with your laser. Also use your device to measure distances to things like trees, bunker lips, the edge of a water hazard, and more. For instance, if you are playing a dogleg par four and need to know how far to hit your drive, measure a tree on the other side of the dogleg and subtract 10 or 15 yards to come up with a logical number.
- Trust the number. Your rangefinder is going to be far more accurate than your eye. Some players make the mistake of not trusting their rangefinder, instead deciding the that the target ‘looks’ like it’s farther away or closer on a given shot. Don’t make this mistake. Trust the technology over your own estimate and hit your shots accordingly
- Use it for a layup. When playing a long par five, you might not think to pull your rangefinder out for a measurement on your second shot. However, even if you are going to lay up, it is still worth your time to determine how far you are from the target. The measurement you take can be helpful in deciding how far to hit your second shot in order to set up an easy third. For instance, if you find that you are 320 yards from the flag, and you want to have 100 yards for your approach, you will know that 220 yards is the ideal distance for your second shot.
- Collect a dollar each time a buddy wants the yardage. You payoff the rangefinder in no time.
Check out similar buying guides –