VERSUS

GPS VS. LASER RANGEFINDERS

Knowing your yardage is important in golf and it is now easier and more accessible for everyone, not just the pros, to find exact distances. Rangefinders are becoming more and more mainstream in the golfing community, the only trouble is figuring out which one to get.

GPS Rangefinders:
PROS

1. Provides General Information

     GPS rangefinders can be a great tool for seeing general information as they usually show the distance to the front, middle, and back of the green (plus the distance to a few hazards). This information can be really helpful when the green is out of view or when trying to avoid hazards near the green. 

Some GPS rangefinders can also track the distance between shots as you walk to your ball. This can help you know how far you hit each club and, overtime, help you remember your yardage on each club and aid in smart club selection.

GPS Rangefinders:
CONS

1. Limited Information for Specific Situations

     While GPS Rangefinders certainly have their benefits, they are not without their faults. For one thing, GPS rangefinders cannot give you the distance to everything on the course. Objects and impediments like big trees in your way and extra hazards are not displayed. Many give distances to a few hazards on the course, but cannot give the distance everything. A laser rangefinder, on the other hand, can give the distance to anything as long as it is in one’s line of sight.

Another flaw of GPS rangefinders is that they do not allow you to see the exact distance from your ball to the flag. Instead, the player is only given distance to the front, back, and center of the green leaving the golfer high and dry on tough pin placements. 

2. Must be Pre-Programmed

     Perhaps the biggest issue with GPS rangefinders is they can only be used on the courses where the GPS data has preprogrammed on the device. Fortunately, there are tens of thousands of courses to choose from world wide on most GPS rangefinders. However, if the course you wish to play on is not included on the list of preloaded courses then your GPS band is more or less useless.

Laser Rangefinders:
PROS

1. Unbeatable Accuracy

     Laser Rangefinders are much more accurate, most will get you the correct measurement within a yard, some even claim to be accurate to 1/2 or even 1/10 of a yard. This can ease your mind when you are picking a club by knowing that the flag is actually 126 yards away and not 118 yards away. In terms of accuracy, it doesn’t get any better than a laser rangefinder.

2. No Programming Required

     Unlike a GPS rangefinder, a laser rangefinder can operate on any course (or anywhere in the world, really) because they focus in on a target to get a measurement rather than relying on preprogrammed course maps. This means no worrying about whether or not your rangefinder has the appropriate map data, just pack it up and hit the links. Additionally, with a laser rangefinder like the NX7 Pro, you can also check the distance to bunkers, water hazards, trees, or virtually anything else by pointing the rangefinder at it.

Another perk of many laser rangefinders is the target lock function which allows the laser to latch on to the object and read the exact distance to said object. This makes sure that you’re getting measurement to the flag and not the trees behind the green allowing you to view the exact distance that you need and not just the center of the green. All of this is extremely helpful, especially on an oddly shaped green. 

3. No Muss, No Fuss

     Laser rangefinders are great because in addition to being more precise, they are also generally easier to maintain and require less muss and fuss than GPS units. For one thing, GPS rangefinders require you to charge them in between rounds whereas a laser rangefinder uses an interchangeable battery (see our lifetime battery replacement guarantee) so it never has to leave your bag. Laser units also never need the frequent updates and downloads that are required if you want to get the most out of a GPS rangefinder.

Laser Rangefinders:
CONS

1. Line-of-Sight Distances Only

     There’s a lot to love about a laser rangefinder, but there are some things to consider before you buy. For one thing, you are limited to viewing distances by your line of site. This means that if the flag is around a bend, you’re not going to be able to get that measurement. 

Another thing to consider is the price of a GPS rangefinder versus a laser. GPS units, on average, tend to be less expensive than their laser counterparts. That being said, there are plenty of entry level and value units (like Precision Pro Golf’s Nexus) that offer all of the perks of a laser rangefinder at a price that is competitive with that of a GPS rangefinder. 

2. How far did you hit it?

     Finally, laser rangefinders cannot tell you exactly how far you hit your shot. The only way one could get their yardage on a shot is by measuring the distance to the flag at the tee-box and then again at your ball and subtracting.

Breakdown:
THE VERDICT

     In conclusion, both laser and GPS rangefinders will help you improve your game. GPS rangefinders are great for getting general distances on the fly and for tracking the yardage on your shots while laser rangefinders give you precise measurements with enhanced features, durability, reliability, and usability.

 

Article written by:

Clay Hood

Past PGA Teaching Pro
Co-Founder of Precision Pro Golf

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