Golfers today utilize technology in every possible way to lower their scores. Golf Laser Rangefinders and GPS Units have revolutionized the way golfers plan shots, select clubs & attack the course. Tour pros and weekend warriors alike use these devices to determine distances to bunkers, hazards and pin locations. Furthermore; knowing how far objects are eliminates the need for other time consuming information gathering methods. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and both are very good so it’s hard to go wrong with either one of them. Below are a few things to consider when determining which system is best for your golf game.
Laser rangefinders measure distance with an invisible beam of laser light reflected off the target and back to the device. Maximum range of the laser beam, magnification of the sighting system, and slope calculation ability are three vital features that you should compare in your search for a rangefinder.
Maximum range describes the furthest distance you can measure with the device. This number could range from several hundred yards to over 1000 yards. Magnification denotes the amount of zoom the sighting system of the device is capable of. Finally, some devices are capable of calculating the vertical change in elevation, or slope, and factoring that measurement into the distance measured.
Advantages of Laser:
- Simple to use -nothing to download and intuitive
- Versatile -works on every golf course and never needs to be updated
- Precision -gives near exact yardage to any target you can see (within several hundred yards). This could be the distance to the pin, a bunker or group of trees
- Long battery life -will last many, many rounds
- Magnification -built into the device and can be useful for seeing distant objects
Disadvantages of Laser:
- Stability issues -requires a steady hand when shooting the target
- Doglegs, hills and trees -needs clear unblocked view to deliver accurate readings
- Acquiring wrong target -possible to accidentally get yardage to wrong target
- Although you’re getting exact distance to the pin, unless you can see it, you may not know where on the green the pin is located
Golf GPS devices communicate with satellites and measure distances from locations on golf courses. Some GPS units come preloaded with course layouts and info. Some require you to download individual course information from the manufacturer’s website. Course Capacity, Courses Available and Service Fee are other vital features that you should compare in your search for a GPS device.
Course Capacity describes the total number of courses you can store on the device at one time. This number could range from 10 to an unlimited amount. Courses Available denotes the total number of courses that are accessible to download from the manufacturer’s website. Finally, some models require a Service Fee, paid to the manufacturer, for using these course downloads.
Advantages of GPS:
- Most units provide distance to Front, Middle and Back of Green
- No aiming or line of sight required
- Acquires yardages without having to aim or even touch the device
- Golf course layouts – Very helpful if you’re playing a course for the 1st time. Feature not included on every model
- Some models provide distances to targets you can’t see – ex: hazards & greens
- Additional features – Many golf GPS devices have shot-measuring features, scorecards, statistics and more that can be fun and useful
Disadvantages of GPS:
- GPS devices do a good job with accuracy; however, they’re not likely to be as precise as lasers
- Even though some models allow you to move the pin position, it’s only a guess unless you have a pin location sheet
- While several GPS devices come preloaded with courses, many require hookup to a computer for updates and/or newly added golf courses. Some even necessitate online registration before they’re operational
- The more features available, the more time it takes to become proficient
- Essential to make sure the unit is charged up every few rounds
Golf GPS Watches are the latest development in distance measuring devices. Rugged yet stylish, they combine functionality and convenience. GPS watches tell time, have auto course recognition, give distances to the front, center and back of greens and more.
Features to look for when comparing GPS watches:
- Display size
- Watch color
- Battery life
- Service fees
- Number of pre-loaded courses and access to download more
- Additional features, like a scorecard and/or an odometer