Top 10 Best Golf Rangefinders – Guide & Reviews

A rangefinder is generally considered the best tool for taking precise measurements on the golf course. It usually has magnification capabilities, allowing users to see a target several hundred yards away. The best golf rangefinder is as easy to use as a point-and-shoot camera. It can work on any golf course regardless of the weather conditions, with batteries lasting for many rounds.

While many traditionalists reject the use of a rangefinder, the reality is that the new breed of golfers is embracing the use of technology to improve their game.

As this 2021 begins we are going to update our top rangefinder list with a details review soon, but in the meantime, we’ve updated the list.

*The links in this page are affiliate links, this means that if you purchase after following one, I make a small commission from the sale at no additional cost to yourself. Take a look at our About Us page for more info on this.

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Top Picks

Bushnell Tour V4 JOLT
TecTecTec ULT-X
Bushnell Pro X2
Bushnell Tour V4 JOLT Golf Laser Rangefinder
TecTecTec ULT-X Golf Rangefinder - Laser Range Finder with 1,000 Yards Range, Slope, Vibration, Easy...
Bushnell Pro X2 Golf Laser Rangefinder
Brand
Bushnell
TecTecTec
Bushnell
Color
White
Yellow
Gray
Yards Range
1000 Yards
1000 Yards
1000 Yards
Range to a Flag
400 yards
450 yards
450 yards
Type
Laser Type
Laser Type
Laser Type
Magnification
5x
6x
5x
Material
Plastic
Ult
Plastic
Sport Type
Golf
Golf
Golf
Pin Seeker
Water Resistant
Slope-Switch
-
-
-
-
-
Bushnell Tour V4 JOLT
Bushnell Tour V4 JOLT Golf Laser Rangefinder
Brand
Bushnell
Color
White
Yards Range
1000 Yards
Range to a Flag
400 yards
Type
Laser Type
Magnification
5x
Material
Plastic
Sport Type
Golf
Pin Seeker
Water Resistant
Slope-Switch
-
-
TecTecTec ULT-X
TecTecTec ULT-X Golf Rangefinder - Laser Range Finder with 1,000 Yards Range, Slope, Vibration, Easy...
Brand
TecTecTec
Color
Yellow
Yards Range
1000 Yards
Range to a Flag
450 yards
Type
Laser Type
Magnification
6x
Material
Ult
Sport Type
Golf
Pin Seeker
Water Resistant
Slope-Switch
-
Bushnell Pro X2
Bushnell Pro X2 Golf Laser Rangefinder
Brand
Bushnell
Color
Gray
Yards Range
1000 Yards
Range to a Flag
450 yards
Type
Laser Type
Magnification
5x
Material
Plastic
Sport Type
Golf
Pin Seeker
Water Resistant
Slope-Switch
-
-

Best Golf Rangefinders 2021

1. Bushnell Tour V4 JOLT Golf Laser Rangefinder

Bushnell Tour V4 JOLT Golf Laser Rangefinder

The V4 of the Bushnell Tour Golf rangefinder is the successor of the already widely successful V3 of theirs. As an upgrade, we expect to see improvements which are there, while it’s 30% smaller than the V3. So it’s a compact laser rangefinder with all the features that this series offers.

Rangefinder with Slope, Easier Toggling

The Bushnell Tour V4 features slope calculation which is highly accurate and easier to turn off this time. Most other slopes enabled rangefinder, like the Tour X from Bushnell had bright colored faceplates that you needed to remove to disable the slope feature.

That means you had to preserve that plate safely to use it in the future and enable slope calculation again. But it was easier to lose as a loose component.

The V4 rather features a simple button that lets you turn on or off the slope feature: convenient and secure.

PinSeeker with JOLT Technology

This piece of tech helps to isolate the target flag from the background. When you’re aiming at a flag that has got distractions behind it (i.e trees), it can get confusing as you’re not sure which distance you’re measuring to: the flagstick or the trees?

The PinSeeker with JOLT technology ensures that you’re measuring the distance to your desired target, not a distraction and confirms you of that with a vibration.

Smaller, Faster, Better Hold

The V4 has got 30% smaller than the V3 which makes it really a compact device to hold. On top of that, it has got Stable Grip Technology which is a design ergonomic that supports the grabbing on better, while the pointy rubber grip ensures even firm grip on the grab. Altogether, it’s a bliss to hold the device in one hand.

Not only that, but it’s also 2 times faster than the V3, so it’ll speed up your game even more.

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  • Fast and accurate.
  • Good battery life.
  • Assists correct aiming.
  • Smarter slope feature toggle.
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  • Doesn’t do that great in fog

Bottom Line

The Bushnell Tour V4 is a noticeable upgrade from the V3 and this time it’s smaller and faster. I loved the compact form factor of it and thought it’s an overall value for money rangefinder.

P.S Note that we’re talking about the Slope Edition of the V4. There’s another version without the slope technology, which is identical to this one in all other aspects, just without the slope feature.

Bushnell Tour V4 JOLT Golf Laser Rangefinder
Bushnell Tour V4 JOLT Golf Laser Rangefinder, The Tour V4 has the pin seeker 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.

2. TecTecTec ULT-X Golf Rangefinder

Bushnell Tour V4 JOLT Golf Laser Rangefinder

Hey mate, what is that rangefinder? It works great! And you be like, yeah it’s a TecTecTec (ugh) ULT-X golf rangefinder!

Yeah true, the name of the manufacturer is a little awkward to present in front of an admirer but sure, their product impresses with the performance for the money.

It’s not anywhere close to being the best golf rangefinder though, it’s just a great bang for the buck and one of the cheapest models that come with the slope feature.

Budget Rangefinder with Slope

Slope calculation is a desired feature for many golfers but it can go a little out of hand in terms of price. A good overall rangefinder with slope feature enables costs you quite some money.

That’s where the ULT-X comes handy. It gives you the freedom to consider slopes in your distance measurement without charging you a fortune. You can turn it off by pulling the attached faceplate into the place.

Sure it’s not as convenient as the premium Bushnell Tour V4, but for the price, we’re more than happy to do it this way.

Fast and Accurate

TecTecTec claims their rangefinder to be accurate to 0.3 yards within 300 yards but I find that claim to be a little more ambitious. It’s not that much accurate but accurate enough to choose the right club and make the correct swing.

I’ll say it’s accurate to a yard to most of the shots we take. It’s fast enough to not bother you holding the aim for too long.

Pinsensor with Vibration

A simpler version of the fancy “PinSeeker with JOLT” tech from Bushnell in the V4. It does the same thing – isolates your target from the distraction and confirms you upon doing that with a vibration. This simple tech on this model is quite effective in its job.

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  • Slope feature in a budget rangefinder
  • Accurate enough to take the perfect shot
  • Isolates target from the background
  • Water and moisture resistant
  • Amazing value for money
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  • Battery life is not the greatest.
  • The Optics are not great

Bottom Line

When you’re on a budget but need one with slope, the TecTecTec ULT-X is your great friend. While it makes little sacrifices to provide great features at a lower cost, it’s still a good package overall.

Bushnell Tour V4 JOLT Golf Laser Rangefinder
Bushnell Tour V4 JOLT Golf Laser Rangefinder, Accurate to 1 yard, Ranges 5-1, 000 yards; It provides yardages to flags from as far as 400 yards out, 5x magnification, Fast focus system, Patriot Pack includes protective skin, CR2 battery & carry case.

3. Bushnell Pro X2 Golf Laser Rangefinder

Bushnell Pro X2 Golf Laser Rangefinder

The Pro X2 is a top of the line product from Bushnell and it’ll certainly crack the top 3 positions of the best golf rangefinders ever made. It does the basics absolutely great, while offers additional premium features that none other offers.

Dual Display

This is a feature that is very unique to the X2. While the optics are already great, this finder allows you to toggle between a bright red vivid display vs. a sharp black display with a simple button, for different lighting conditions and your personal preferences.

Now that really helps. The black display is highly bold and pronounced and in the early part of the day when it’s night outside, the display literally pops and looks fantastic. You can switch to the red vivid display to look better in the latter part of the day when it’s overcast – absolutely useful and a premium feature.

Blazing fast and Accurate

I’ve seen many fast laser rangefinders but the Pro X2 takes it to another level. It reads the distance almost instantly as soon as you aim at your target, even when the slope feature is turned on.

And don’t even get me on the accuracy. There wasn’t a single time that I had to make a bad shot because of the inaccurate reading of the rangefinder. It’s accurate to half of a yard every single time for most of the shots I took.

Convenient Slope Toggling

The slope calculation is on point but the slope turn on/off toggle is the more attractive part here. Unlike most other rangefinders and like their very own V4, this Bushnell finder allows slope off/on toggle with a button instead of removal/addition of a faceplate – far more convenient.

PinSeeker with Jolt

You already know what this piece of tech is as it’s from the V4. It works even better on this model as I felt it had a better vibration motor which produced an even more noticeable vibration upon target locking.

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  • Insanely fast, highly accurate.
  • Dual display for different lighting conditions.
  • Easy slope turn off/on.
  • Proper aim lock and confirmation.
  • Highly robust, fully waterproof.
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  • Lacks scan feature

Bottom Line

The Bushnell Pro X2 is simply one of the best in business. It leaves me no chance to complain. If you can afford, get a Pro X2.

Sale
Bushnell Pro X2 Golf Laser Rangefinder
Bushnell Pro X2 Golf Laser Rangefinder, Ranges 5 1, 300 yards; 450+ yards to Flags, Pin Seeker with JOLT technology, Eye Relief:16 millimeter, Exit Pupil:3.5 millimeter, IPX7 Fully Waterproof, Class 1 laser with less than 0.5 mW average power output.

4. Nikon Coolshot Pro Stabilized Golf Rangefinder

Nikon Coolshot Pro Stabilized Golf Rangefinder

When you’re ready to spend quite some money for a rangefinder but not willing to accept anything less than the best, the Nikon Coolshot Pro is the answer. This tool can measure within  8-1200 yards and could be accurate up to .75 yards.

Stability

The one thing that made many golfers buy the Nikon Coolshot Pro is the stable features. It offers such amazing features that barely any other rangefinder offers. Many users often tend to use rangefinders effectively because of their shaky hands and it makes them have to try two, three, or four times even to get the reading, and that’s an issue.

The Nikon cool shot stabilizes the laser beat itself taking the reading as well as your site through the viewfinder. It improves the accuracy by around 20% and helps you to find the distance to your target in the first try even if you have shaky hands.

Slope Adjustment & Turn on/off

Of course, you expected slope measurement feature in such an expensive device, but the question is, how well?

Very well, to answer that. There’s no ‘hold steady for 2-3 seconds’ that many other models tell you to do. The slope adjusted distance is displayed almost instantly along with the straight line distance.

And you can always turn it off to make it legal for tournament play.

Contrasted OLED Display

Just after your first look through the viewfinder, you’ll understand how good of an optics you’re getting. The Nikon Coolshot PRO features a crystal clear & background contrasted OLED display with manual or auto brightness levels, offering ideal visibility in varying light conditions.

It offers a highly clear vision even in low light conditions. It also features a rear diopter ring that allows for the fast focus to each user’s eyesight.

Locked-On Technology

On top of that, the Nikon Locked-On 2 technology helps to measure a distance correctly when there’s noise in the background. Say there are lots of trees behind the flagstick you’re measuring the distance to, and after measuring the distance you can’t be sure whether it was to the flag or any of the trees behind that.

The locked-on tech visually shows you by marking the target with a green circle so that you are clear of which object you’re measuring the distance to.

Robust Design

The Nikon Coolshot Pro is built to be pure waterproof, not just splash resistant. Soak it in the rain and it won’t do a thing to the unit. It’s also fog proof and it’s filled with nitrogen inside so that it eliminates internal condensation.

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  • Highly accurate yet so fast.
  • The stability feature helps a lot.
  • High-quality optics for clear vision.
  • Locked-on technology helps to identify the target.
  • Built to last.
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  • It’s quite expensive

Bottom Line

The Nikon Coolshot Pro is a gamechanger and savior for people with shaky hands. Not only that, but it’s also top-notch in other segments as well. If you’re not concerned about the budget, this is one of the best golf rangefinders that you can get.

Nikon Coolshot Pro Stabilized Golf Rangefinder
Nikon Coolshot Pro Stabilized Golf Rangefinder, the advantage for golfers who rely on accurate distance measurements before taking a shot, Unshakable confidence, Through technology that stabilizes the slight hand movements that occur while ranging.

5. Leupold Gx 5I3 Rangefinder

Leupold 2017 GX-5i3 Digital Golf Rangefinder

The GX-5i3 stands in the sweet spot between price and performance. It costs quite less than the premium rangefinders yet gets all the basics right, including the slope calculation.

DNA

Leupold calls their piece of tech as DNA, which they explain as “Digitally Enhanced Accuracy” (does that make sense?)

However, the result does. In close shots, it can get accurate to one-tenth of a yard which is insane. It was decent-enough fast to not bother you.

Pinhunter 3 with Prism Lock

Another day, another fancy name. Basically, it’s that tech that sets the target apart from the background and it works well, but not the best in business for this sort of tech. When it locks, it makes an audible tone instead of a vibration for confirmation.

Club Selector

The GX-5i3 takes slope and few other things (i.e your swing data) into consideration to suggest you the best possible club, which is mostly correct. While that feature is great for beginners and off-tournament play, you must turn it off when participating in tournaments.

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  • Highly accurate
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Fog mode
  • Scan option available
  • Sets the target apart well with Pinhunter 3
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  • Build quality could be better

Bottom Line

The GX-5i3 offers the basic features at an affordable price. If you’re a value-for-money guy, this should be one of your top considerations.

Leupold 2017 GX-5i3 Digital Golf Rangefinder
Leupold 2017 GX-5i3 Digital Golf Rangefinder, 6x magnification, Fog mode to cut through weather, Fully multi-coated lens System, One-touch Scan mode, Fold-down rubber eyecups, PinHunter 3 Laser Technology.

6. TecTecTec Laser Golf Rangefinder VPRO500S

Bushnell Pro X7 Slope Golf Laser Rangefinder with JOLT

TecTecTec is back in our list and this time with their popular VPRO500S model. This model has the slope feature, while there’s a similar model named VPRO500, which does not have the slope feature. They’re identical except the slope feature, so anything I say about this model applies to that model as well.

Continuous Scan

This model has this impressive feature, which is it can continuously scan targets even when the slope feature is turned on – that’s something which many premium rangefinders lack even.

However, that’s sort of compensation for the PinSeeker tech that it’s missing. When there’re distractions in the background, you have to use the continuous scan mode to understand the distance to your target.

Accuracy & Slope

The VPRO500S is accurate to a yard which is good enough. Slope feature is appreciable in such a budget rangefinder and it works well too – quite accurate when considering slopes.

However, I’ve heard complaints about it messing up with accuracy on a few occasions. In such a case, you need to measure multiple times to be confirmed of the distance.

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  • Slope enabled device
  • Continuous scan mode
  • 6X magnification
  • Well built, water-resistant
  • Measures distance within a second
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  • True PinSeeker technology is missing.

Bottom Line

The VPRO500S is quite popular among the golfer due to its budget-friendliness for a slope enabled rangefinder, which gets other basics right. It can be an even cheaper slope-enabled alternative of their very own ULT-X.

Bushnell Pro X7 Jolt Slope Rangefinder
Bushnell Pro X7 Jolt Slope Rangefinder, Accurate to 1/2 yard, 5 yards-1 mile ranging performance (550+ yards to a flag), 7x Magnification with HD Optics, Slope Technology provides compensated distances for elevation changes, Posi-Thread Battery Door, Waterproof.

7. Callaway 300 Pro Golf Laser Rangefinder

Laser Link Golf RH2 Rangefinder

Features

  • Red Dot Aiming System
  • range up to 1000 yards
  • Three yardage confirmation settings include Audio, Silent and Vibrate
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  • Smaller Size
  • Lightweight
  • easy to use
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  • No Slope
Laser Link Golf RH2 Rangefinder
Laser Link Golf RH2 Rangefinder, Distance to any target on the golf course at the touch of a button, Red Dot Aiming System featuring the Zero-In Alignment Aid, Smaller, lighter and faster than previous models, with an increased range up to 1000 yards, Large, easy-to-read external LCD.

8. Callaway 200 Laser Rangefinder

Callaway 200 Laser Rangefinder

It’d be a crime as well to make a list of best golf laser rangefinders without mentioning the name of Callaway. They’re a prominent name in the golfing industry and their 200 laser golf rangefinder works just as well.

Range and Accuracy

The 200 laser golf rangefinder has a range of 5-800 yards and it’s accurate to a yard. But when you go on to measure longer distances like over 400-500 yards, the accuracy gets a little compromised.

PAT Technology with Continuous Scan

Callaway names their target lock-on tech as Pin Acquisition Technology. You already know what this piece of tech does – it locks on the target for confirmed aiming and confident distance measuring. It has also got a continuous scan feature which helps a lot as well.

Good LCD, 6X magnification

The Callaway 200 features a nice and easy-to-read LCD that’s usable in every lighting condition. The optics are on-point with a 6X magnification feature that helps you to aim at the target easier and faster.

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  • PAT technology helps effective target-locking.
  • Good LCD.
  • 6X magnification helps.
  • Well-built rangefinder.
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  • The accuracy is not on point every time, gives false reading sometimes

Bottom Line

The Callaway 200 seems like a decent rangefinder to me. It’s fast, easy-to-use, and compact. When it’s accurate, it’s accurate. But on a few occasions, you might need to take multiple readings for confirmation which can be a bit bothering.

Callaway 200 Laser Rangefinder
Callaway 200 Laser Rangefinder, Ultra-compact and lightweight; measures in yards or meters, 6x magnification, range 5-800 yards with +/- 1 yard accuracy, Pin Acquisition Technology (P.A.T.) quickly locks onto the pin from up to 275 yards away, Scan functionality allows golfers to acquire distances to multiple targets at once.

9.  SereneLife Pro Golf Laser Rangefinder

SereneLife Advanced Golf Laser Rangefinder - 546.2 Yard Digital Accuracy Distance Meter with...

Want to spend less than a hundred bucks but want a rangefinder that gets the basics absolutely correct? Well, you could actually get that: Here’s the Serenelife golf rangefinder. It’s the best bang for people on a really tight budget.

Accurate

You might expect not great accuracy given the low price tag but you’ll be in for a surprise. The manufacturer claims it to be accurate to a yard and it actually is that accurate.

Pinseeker Technology

Yeah, you got that too. This inexpensive rangefinder features Pinseeker technology to lock on the desired target in-between a lot of distractions.

Pretty Well-Built

It does quite well in terms of build quality as well as its water and dust resistant. I expected a let down here but I’m glad that I was wrong.

It’s not easy to use

So, where’s the compromise? This thing needs some practice to get used to.

In the first few tries, you’ll have a hard time getting an accurate distance. It needs really stable hands for a few seconds to give an accurate reading. To get the best performance out of this inexpensive device, you’ll have to allow time to get used to it.

And golfers with really shaky hands will struggle with it. If you’re willing to save a good amount of money, you need to compensate for that with practice.

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  • Accurate reading upon holding steadily.
  • Pinseeker technology.
  • Water and dust resistant
  • Highly inexpensive.
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  • Needs really stable hands
  • Consumes battery faster.

Bottom Line

The Serenelife rangefinder is a lifesaver for people on a really tight budget. It gets the basics right under a hundred bucks. It’s a steal when you’re willing to put in the work.

SereneLife Advanced Golf Laser Rangefinder
SereneLife Advanced Golf Laser Rangefinder - 546.2 Yard Digital Accuracy Distance Meter with Pinsensor Technology, 6X Magnification and 2 Modes for Hunting, Shooting, Perfect for carrying while golfing or hunting, Archery and More - SLGRF20SL.

10. Garmin Approach Z80, Golf Laser Range Finder 

Nikon Coolshot 20 Golf Rangefinder (Two Batteries Included)

To sum up the list, we have an expensive model but certainly one of the most premium ones among the bunch. The Garmin Approach Z80 is one of the best in business.

Incredible Accuracy

The Garmin Approach Z80 is probably the most accurate rangefinder ever. Up to 350 yards, it’s accurate within 10” of the flag which is insane.

Full-Color 2-D Course view

Just like a GPS rangefinder, this tool shows a full-color 2-D course view, the only laser rangefinder to do so in this list. It has over 41,000 courses mapped worldwide and your course is overlaid on the viewfinder.

Additional Useful Features

This rangefinder has a feature called green view which automatically shows distance to the front and back of the green. The slope compensation feature is named as “PlaysLike Distance feature” which works accurately.

It has the Laser Range Arc feature that draws an arc on the 2-D course view map where your target is, so you can have the visual of everything that is in play at that distance

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  • Incredibly accurate.
  • 2-D course mapping for over 41,000 courses
  • Shows distance to the front and back of the green.
  • Laser Arc shows what’s around the target
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  • Consumes a lot of power for the additional features

Bottom Line

You can’t go wrong on a Garmin Approach Z80. While it charges a premium, it delivers as well.

Nikon Coolshot 20 Golf Rangefinder
Nikon Coolshot 20 Golf Rangefinder, Two batteries included, The lightest and most compact golf rangefinder Nikon produces will fit easily into a pocket or golf bag, First target priority technology allows for the closest object in a group of objects to be measured every time.

Buying Guide: Things to Consider Before Buying the Top Rated Golf Rangefinder

What makes the “best golf rangefinder”, the best?

You must count on a few criteria before you pick your winner. And, what are those?

Accuracy

Accuracy is all we need in the first place. Rangefinders have the primary mission of taking the guesswork out of the equation and it must do that effectively. You do not want to trust your tool and get cheated on.

Accuracy is what drives me towards laser rangefinders over GPS ones so I am not ready to compromise on that one. You need to pick a model that claims and delivers to be accurate within a yard.

Some premium models get accurate within one-tenth of a yard which is incredible.

Range & Magnification

How long is your long game?

You should be counting on the maximum range a rangefinder can measure the distance within. Some models claim to be accurate within thousands of yards which is not really realistic since the magnification is not enough to aim at targets at that distance.

Range is not really the most critical issue since most rangefinders offer you the coverage that you need. The crucial issue is magnification as it helps to aim easily and quickly.

You should pick a model with a minimum 5X magnification. Some recent models offer 6X or 7X magnification which is great freedom to have.

Display

The display does not have to be an outstanding one, as there’s no use of such displays in a rangefinder. What it must do is provide crystal clear images with no blurred lines.

The yardage readouts should stand out and be prioritized. Also, it needs to be bright enough to be clearly visible on a bright sunny day.

Ease of Use

Laser rangefinders already take a little more time to give you the distance than GPS models, so we don’t want to pull that further. How easily and quickly the rangefinder can show you the distance is a factor that matters.

Some models tend to overwhelm you with data and take more time and effort in the process which I personally don’t appreciate.

Also, it’s a tool that you’re going to pull out of your pocket and aim at a target a lot of times. So a compact and lightweight device is a great help.

Slope Measurement

The legal aspects of slope measurement have been talked about a lot of times already so let’s not go there. I’d like to have a device with slope measurement feature as I live in a hilly area and I’m not that much into professional golfing.

The slope feature really helps in my circumstances and I recommend people who play on rolling hills and dales should get a rangefinder with slope measurement feature.

And you can always turn it off if you’re participating in a tournament.

Battery Life

Not really a major factor when you’re going for a laser golf rangefinder, as the included battery lasts from six months to a year in most recognized models. The GPS models are power hungry though.

However, when you run out of the battery in a laser model, it’s not that cheap to buy another pack. Some companies like Precision Pro though, offer free battery replacement when you register online.

Water Proof / Resistant

You may get hit by sudden rain and you don’t wanna lose your playtime companion in the process. Especially if you live in an area where it rains often, you should definitely pick a waterproof or water-resistant model.

Waterproof and water-resistance are similar technologies where waterproof is the more desirable one. However, for a simple splash of rainwater, water resistance will do fine.

Storage Case, Build Quality

After your golf ball, your rangefinder is one of the most frequently used pieces of equipment from your golf bag. If it’s not rugged, it may break.

That’s why the storage case is crucial to saving it from so much stuff that’s in there in a golf bag. Also, it needs to have a good rugged body so that it can save itself from breaking or hurting the internals in cases of accidental falls.

Price

Laser golf rangefinders can be priced between $100 to $500 even. While the hundred dollar models will do the basic job, the five hundred dollar models will have extra beneficial features.

I think the sweet spot is between $200 to around $250 where the rangefinders offer most essential as well as beneficiary features and offer a good value for money.

THE MORE YOU LEARN ABOUT THE GOLF RANGEFINDER, THE MORE YOU WILL HAVE THE CHANCE TO BE A WINNER. HERE ARE THE FEW POINTS YOU HAVE EVER WANTED TO KNOW.

Slope VS No Slope Rangefinders

Even if you were pretty bad at math, chances are, you’ve still heard the term ‘slope’ and have a rough idea of what it means.

If you don’t, here you go, in simple terms: Slope refers to the difference in elevation between two points in general, for example, between you and your target in golf.

I hope I didn’t sound like your boring math teacher as I have skipped the book-ish definition. However, what we care about is how it impacts our gameplay!

Simply put, when you measure the distance between two points, the results could vary depending on whether they had or did not have any slope in between them. On a flat surface with zero slopes, the result would be something and on hilly areas where it has slopes, the result would fluctuate a little.

Now, that ‘little’ has a big impact on our game and a lot with the accuracy of the shot, the club we choose, the way we take the shot, and so on things. Probably now you know why slope matters in golf, especially with rangefinders.

A rangefinder with the ‘slope’ feature will consider the slope in between you and your target and do some extra calculation so give you a more accurate distance. Whereas, a golf rangefinder with ‘no slope’ will assume the surface as flat even if it has slopes and won’t consider that, so the result it’ll show you might be a little inaccurate than the actual distance.

After this understanding, the answer to the question ‘slope vs no slope rangefinder’ might sound very obvious but it’s really not. First off, you need to spend a few extra bucks to get one with the slope feature (obvious, no?).

What brings the debate up is its legality. In many tournaments in the US and outside, a rangefinder with ‘slope’ feature enabled is strictly prohibited and could result in a disqualification (now you get how much it helps).

Thus, if you’re looking to step into professional golf, this overwhelming help is discouraged as you need to get used to using rangefinders with no slope feature enabled. However, if you’re eyeing one particular tournament, you should check their rules and regulations before deciding as many tournaments allow such rangefinders.

And if professional golf is not what you’re looking to get into in the near future, a rangefinder with slope feature will greatly help you to improve your scores.

Laser, GPS, and Hybrid: Which One is What? How do they work?

When you’re looking to buy a golf rangefinder, chances are, you’ve come across technical terminology like “laser rangefinder”, “GPS rangefinder”, “hybrid rangefinder” etc. These terms state the technology behind that particular rangefinder model.

Now, if you’re not an expert on this tool, you might wonder which technology is the best and most reliable. Let’s find out –

GPS Golf Rangefinder

Though I personally like the laser golf rangefinders, the reason I’m starting with the GPS ones is because of the timeline – it’s the pioneering technology for golf rangefinders.

How does a GPS golf rangefinder work?

You get a handheld device that you have to carry around with you. That device has GPS enabled so your position can be tracked. Now, the manufacturer of the rangefinder has already mapped the course you’re playing on where all the things are marked, and those maps are preloaded into your GPS rangefinder.

When you’re looking for the distance for a particular target, the device cross matches the already loaded course map and your position on the course and can show you the distance this way.

The good thing about GPS rangefinders is the convenience. I mean, GPS rangefinders come in the form factor of wristwatches so it is highly convenient to carry around and have a quick look at when you need to measure a distance.

Some rangefinders even offer a hat clip for finding out the distance quickly and conveniently.

Where the GPS ones lack majorly is the accuracy, and it’s quite a big deal. The modern devices are quite improved from the original ones but it’s still not as accurate as laser ones. They are also unable to give exact yardages to the flag.

Another drawback of these units is that they can be only used on those courses that the company has mapped. Modern models may come with 30,000+ courses mapped, but if your course is not mapped on the model you’re purchasing, it doesn’t matter how many other courses are there.

Laser Golf Rangefinder

When GPS ones are no good, a laser is an answer. If you’re a fan of accuracy, you’re going to love the laser golf rangefinders.

Wondering how it works?

You aim the rangefinder at the target you want to measure the distance to and pull the trigger. A laser light goes out of the device, hits the target, and comes back to the device. The time in-between the light leaving the device and coming back is tracked.

As we know the speed of light, some maths are done by the device to find out the distance between you and your target. Simple physics.

The best thing about laser rangefinders is their accuracy. Most laser models are accurate within a yard, where some of the premium models promise accuracy within one-tenth of a yard – incredible.

Also, you can use it on any course in the world as there’s no requirement of the manufacturer to preload the map of that course.

For the downside, if there are many obstacles between you and your target, it becomes quite tough to aim accurately for your target for the laser to reach there. Shaky hands could throw challenges too. Also, it does not show much information as a GPS rangefinder does on a large display.

And keep in mind that you can only measure the distance to a target that you have visual on. It’s great for measuring the distance to a pin but it cannot reliably give you the distance to the front, middle, or back of the green.

Hybrid Golf Rangefinder

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to presume what a hybrid golf rangefinder is. When you bring the best of both laser and GPS together, you get a hybrid golf rangefinder.

I love the laser models for their incredible accuracy and I’ll pick those any day over GPS rangefinders. But there are days when I’d love to see detailed information on a course that only GPS models show.

And on a few occasions, my favorite laser rangefinder puts me down, where the course is hilly and there are obstacles in between.

But pick a quality hybrid rangefinder, like the Bushnell Hybrid Rangefinder, and you’ll be happy every time.

What Makes for a ‘Tournament Legal’ Device?

If you’re a professional golfer or looking to step into professional golfing in the future, you need to keep your eye on tournament rules and regulations when you shop for a rangefinder. Not every rangefinder or ‘electronic device’ for that matter is allowed on the green.

The 14-3 Rule

The 14-3 rule is about “Artificial Devices and Unusual Equipment; Abnormal Use of Equipment.” According to the original rule, the use of any electronic device that assists in your game was prohibited.

However, it was revised in 2006, and devices used to measure distance were marked as allowed. But, not every model of them.

Here’s what you can do with electronic devices on a golf course that’ll be considered as legal –

  • You may measure the distance to greens, trees, hazards, etc.
  • You can share that information with any of your playing partners.
  • You’re allowed to record information of a round such as scores, distances, and related info using your electronic device.
  • You can use your electronic device to access texts, calls, and notifications.
  • You can check the weather information i.e incoming storms and rain (not wind speed)
  • Your device may have other basic features like clock, calendar, basic scorecard, etc.
  • You’re allowed to use apps on your smartphone or tablet that are required to work simultaneously with your GPS device.

What are the Disqualifying Features?

The 14-3 rule allows the use of distance measuring devices but with conditions. Your electronic device can not have particular features to be considered as Legal. Here are those disqualifying features  –

  • Your rangefinder device can not show you the slope reading. If your device considers slopes to provide you with a highly accurate distance between you and your target despite having slopes in-between, it’ll be considered as illegal.
  • It should not provide you information regarding wind speed. Checking for the possibility of rain, thunderstorms, etc. are okay.
  • You can not contact a trainer or coach within a round with or without the facilitation of your electronic device.
  • Your device should not review swing analysis software during play.
  • Club suggestions feature. Many smart golf devices track your swings and process the information to understand how far you hit your golf shots. Any such feature is prohibited.

You probably could get worried at this point because the particular model you were counting on might have some or all of these features. You can, however, turn many of these features off when you’re required to. And when you do that, your device will be considered legal for tournament play.

Frequently Asked Question About Best Golf Rangefinder

Here are the answers to some questions that I get asked quite often.

Laser Rangefinder or GPS, which one should I get?

As you’ve made it this far in the article, I assume that you know about how each of them functions and the pros and cons of each. Now you decide according to your preferences and expectations from the tool.

In short, if you’re a fan of accuracy and flexibility, laser rangefinders are better. If you want detailed additional information, GPS models are a good choice. My personal preference has always been the laser finders.

The way you can get the best of both worlds is by getting a hybrid rangefinder.

Should I buy one with a slope calculation?

Yes, I recommend that for most golfers, especially when you live in hilly areas. If you play occasional tournaments, you can always turn that feature off.

But if you are into serious professional golfing, I don’t recommend it. You should get used to using one without this added convenience of slope calculation. Also, if you play on absolutely flat courses every time, you may save a few bucks buying a rangefinder without slope calculation.

Are Golf Rangefinders legal?

Yes, according to the revised 14-3 rule, they’re legal, as long as you don’t keep slope calculation feature on.

How do you use a laser golf rangefinder?

Look through the optic and scan the area to find your target. Click the ‘measure’ button and a crosshair will appear in the display. Set that crosshair on the target and click measure one more time to get the distance to the target.

Does rangefinder give you an accurate distance?

If it’s a laser rangefinder, then yes, it gives a very accurate distance. In terms of GPS rangefinders, they also provide close to accurate distance but tend to mess up sometimes.

Do golf pros use a rangefinder?

Many of them including Padraig Harrington do use it during the practice round. However, in pro tours, they can’t use it as it’s not allowed.

Final Verdict

There are lots of golf rangefinders available in the market, which can make shopping overwhelming especially to novice shoppers. I have made things a lot easier for you by picking 10 of the best rangefinders for golfers today.

Whether you want a GPS or laser-rangefinder, I can guarantee you’ll find my list very helpful. So what are you waiting for? Shop now for these rangefinders and be one step closer to getting the best golf rangefinder for you.

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