The best golf rangefinder
For advanced golfers who have the ability to create precise shots, only one thing can hold them back. Without information on the exact distance to the flagstick or to hazards, even the experienced golfer can make mistakes on the course.
The answer? A golf rangefinder. This handheld device uses laser light to measure distances to within an accuracy of a yard or less.
This guide will help you find a rangefinder that's right for you. Our recommended best golf rangefinder is the Precision Pro Golf XN7 Pro. It has a reasonable price while delivering an excellent list of advanced features for accurate measurements.
Considerations when choosing golf rangefinders
Accuracy is the most important factor in a golf rangefinder. A unit that cannot precisely tell the golfer the distance to any location on the course isn't useful. You might as well make an educated guess based on the distance numbers imprinted on a sprinkler head in the fairway.
The best rangefinders can create a measurement to the flagstick or to a sand trap within half a yard. Even inexpensive units should be able to measure distances to within one yard.
For additional accuracy in a golf rangefinder, the unit needs to have the ability to calculate distance while compensating for changes in elevation. A downhill target on the golf course requires a far different type of club than an uphill target from the same distance on the fairway.
These features in the golf rangefinder are called slope and elevation. Although these features are handy, they are not always allowed in competitive play. Any golf rangefinder that includes these technologies needs to also have the ability to turn them off as required.
Beyond measurement accuracy, golf rangefinders will be easier to use if they have a few other features.
Display screen: The golf rangefinder will show the measurement on a display screen using LCD, LED, or OLED technology. OLED screens are the brightest of the screen types, which can be helpful in bright sunlight or poor weather, but they're also the priciest.
Magnification: When trying to focus on a far off, skinny object, such as a flagstick on the green, magnification in the rangefinder's lens is a key element. Magnification allows you to precisely see the object on which you're basing the measurement, ensuring accuracy. A rangefinder should be able to magnify items in the distance by up to seven times normal human vision (styled as 7x).
Range: The range, or distance, over which the rangefinder will work varies from unit to unit. Some rangefinders claim to work over distances of 1,000 yards and beyond. However, when determining precise distance to a location as small as a golf flagstick, the majority of rangefinders will work over up to 300 yards. This is plenty of distance for golfers hitting into a green.
Weather: Sooner or later, a golfer will be caught in the rain on the course. You will want a rangefinder that has waterproof construction. Some units work better in rain and fog than others, as this moisture in the air can cause incorrect readings.
Golf rangefinder prices
Rangefinders are expensive pieces of equipment. You can expect to pay at least $70 for even a simple unit that doesn't offer advanced features. The priciest golf rangefinders can carry a price tag as high as $300 to $600.
Q. Can I damage my eyes with the laser in a golf rangefinder?
A. No, not through typical use. The U.S. FDA classifies the laser in the rangefinder as Class 1, which means it is not hazardous to the eyes.
Q. What advantage does the laser rangefinder have over a GPS rangefinder?
A. The laser rangefinders we're discussing here offer a greater level of precision than GPS rangefinders. Greenskeepers move the flagstick to new locations on the green every day or two, and only the laser rangefinder can precisely dial in on the new position.
Golf rangefinders we recommend
Best of the best: Precision Pro Golf NX7 Pro Rangefinder
Our take: Extremely accurate rangefinder that fits comfortably in the hand to simplify use.
What we like: Uses a vibration signal to let you know when you've dialed in the target. All modes conform to USGA rules.
What we dislike: Sometimes operates sluggishly, which leads to frustration.
Best bang for your buck: SereneLife Premium Rangefinder
Our take: Nice rangefinder for the recreational golfer, as it's easy to use, and provides basic functions at a good price.
What we like: Delivers the same precision in measurements found in more expensive models. Battery life is surprisingly good.
What we dislike: Does not have a vibration feature, so you must look at the screen to know when you've dialed in the target.
Choice 3: Bushnell Tour V4 Slope Rangefinder
Our take: Offers many advanced features, including the ability to adjust distance measurements based on changes in terrain elevation.
What we like: Includes a vibration setting when you've hit the target. Accuracy is extremely impressive.
What we dislike: Expensive, so it's not made for anyone but the serious, frequent golfer.
Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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