Do you think you might want a GPS golf range finder? Do you need some information about these devices before you decide? If so, you’ve come to the right page of our website. We’ll give you some general information about what these units are, how they work, how they can help your game, and how they might even make playing more fun.
First, a bit of clarification is in order. There are golf GPS devices, and there are golf rangefinders. But, although many people use the term, technically there isn’t any such thing as a “GPS golf range finder.”
Golf rangefinders don’t use the Global Positioning System (“GPS”) satellite network, but a golf GPS device (what some people call a “GPS golf range finder”) does. A golf GPS unit compares your precise location on the course (established by a GPS satellite) with a pre-programmed, internal database of the positions of specific course features (like the location of a hazard or the green, for example). In contrast, golf rangefinders operate by aiming a beam of light onto a specific object and measuring how long the light beam takes to bounce back. They then use the elapsed time to calculate the distance to that object. Some golf rangefinders are even able to display how much of an elevation change exists between the golfer and the target object.
So, technically, the term “GPS golf range finder” is inaccurate. I think I get what you mean, though – you’re probably looking for a golf rangefinder that uses the GPS system. If that’s the case, our site has a page with an overview of these helpful devices, and we review several specific golf GPS systems on other pages of this site. I don’t think you want me to repeat that information on GPS golf range finders here, so I’ll use this page to focus on the type of golf rangefinders that use a beam of light.
These golf rangefinders are the traditional type – the ones golfers used (or tried to use) for years before golf GPS systems came out. I say “tried to use” because they always seemed tricky. I never got the hang of them (my hands shook too much and threw off the reading, or I didn’t have a line of sight to the target I wanted), although I’ve played with a few people who have used them for years and they say they’ll never switch to one of the new-fangled golf GPS devices.
Today’s golf rangefinders are better than the older units and use a laser beam instead of a regular light beam. You aim the rangefinder at your target (the flag, for example), push a button to activate the unit, line up the red dot with your target and – voila! You have the exact distance to the target. They’re said to be much more precise than a GPS golf system, and as long as you can see your target they let you measure the distance to absolutely any object on the golf course.
Although there are some exceptions, most GPS golf systems only let you measure the distance to certain specific features on the course. In addition, most GPS golf systems won’t give you the precise distance to the actual flag position like a rangefinder can – GPS golf units just tell you the yardage to the front, middle and back of the green.
Golf rangefinders do have their drawbacks in addition to their advantages. For example, you won’t be able to aim the laser beam at a target you can’t see. So, if a creek is beyond the crest of a hill, you won’t be able to use a traditional rangefinder to know the yardage needed to clear the creek. The hill blocks you from seeing the creek, and it blocks the laser beam. GPS golf range finders don’t have that problem.
Other than that, these things can be handy. Your fairways may have yardage markers every 50 yards, but they can’t help you much if your ball is 100 yards wide right. A GPS golf range finder or a laser-style golf rangefinder can help you out in that situation. But, the laser-style can also tell you the exact distance to the flag, not just the approximation you get from a GPS golf range finder.
Knowing how far you need to hit the ball cannot only lower your scores – it can make the game more fun because you know you’re pulling the right club. A good GPS golf range finder – or a laser-style rangefinder – can be like having a good caddy on your bag. And, a good GPS golf range finder – or the laser type – can help deter slow play. Here’s the bottom line: there’s a strong market for the GPS golf range finder as well as the traditional type.