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The Long Shot: best golf rangefinders
One of the most enjoyable aspects of golfing is staring out into the distance and planning your next shot. But narrowing down actual distances and executing the swing to reach that next hole can take years of practice. Is the next cup 50 or 100 yards away? How steep is the terrain? Which direction is the wind blowing?
Golf pros will tell you that all of these variables are vital in shaping where your ball will go — and many frustrated golfers who have had to wade into ponds to get their ball back can attest to this.
Thankfully, golf rangefinders are here to help you learn how to best tackle those long shots. Rangefinders provide data about how far your next target really is, and help you figure out the best way to get your ball there with the least amount of shots.
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While golf pros can’t use rangefinders during tournaments, they can use them during practice. Over time, this helps sharpen their distance-gauging skills for when they need them the most. If the pros still rely on them, just imagine how the best golf rangefinder will elevate your game.
What is a Rangefinder?
If you ever wanted to feel like The Terminator out on the green (and who wouldn’t?) a laser rangefinder might be the best option for you. Like Arnold’s memorable tracking system from the movies, a laser rangefinder tracks its prey/hole by sending a narrow laser pulse out to the destination target. It’s then reflected back to the rangefinder, which determines the hole’s distance by how long it takes the beam to return.
Laser rangefinders are extremely accurate, with some models being able to narrow down the distance to the next hole to within fractions of a yard. Shaped like a pair of binoculars on its side, you simply look through the device towards your destination and the rangefinder will do the rest. The best golf rangefinder will speed up and improve your game by taking out the guesswork that can lead to wasted shots. In addition to providing you with the actual distance of the next hole, a golf rangefinder will also help you select which club to use, removing another layer of uncertainty that can leave even the pros on their toes.
Rangefinder or Golf GPS?
Golf location tech is offered up in two varieties: with a laser-guided system (a.k.a. rangefinder), or with a GPS-tracking system (a.k.a. golf GPS). Each model has its own benefits, which can make selecting the best option for you an intimidating process. While we’ve narrowed down the best in laser rangefinders below, you can click here for our look at the best in Golf GPS.
Top 4 Best Rangefinders in 2021
1. Bushnell Golf Tour V5
Bushnell packs a number of high-tech features into the compact and convenient Tour V5 rangefinder. The BITE magnetic mount attaches the device directly to the bar of your golf cart so you don’t have to carry it around the entire course. The Tour V5 also completely removes the uncertainty of whether or not you’ve found your correct target. When the laser reaches the intended target, a flashing red ring lights up and the unit vibrates as well. The clarity of the screen is also a huge jump from the previous model, and you can sync the V5 to the Bushnell app to check out maps, course details, and much more.
2. TecTecTec VPRO DLXS Slope Rangefinder
Measuring the distance to your next flag is all well and good, but as anyone who’s spent much time on the green will tell you, no course has the same terrain. Being able to analyze and compensate for sloping ground ahead of you is an important aspect of maximizing your game, which makes the VPRO DLXS slope rangefinder from TecTecTec so useful. This compact device will recommended which club to use as the terrain changes, allowing for a smarter and more efficient game. The company boasts a long measurement range of up to 600 yards with this model, and the unit is even waterproof, so you won’t have to dive for cover at the first sight of rain.
3. Precision Pro NX9 Golf Rangefinder
Like Bushnell, Precision Pro is one of the most trusted names when it comes to quality laser-guided golf rangefinders. The NX9 stands out from the crowd due to its crystal-clear LCD display with 6x magnification properties, to ensure you quickly find the flag you’re looking for. If you’re not quite sure that you’re locking onto the right spot, the unit will also vibrate when you hit the pin so you know you haven’t accidentally locked onto a tree or a stray golf cart in the distance. The NX9 fits snugly into the palm of your hand, and also features a magnetic grip that allows it to snap easily onto your cart when you need your hands free to execute that next swing.
4. Nikon Coolshot Pro II Stabilized
With laser-guided rangefinders, you want to be sure you’re getting as stable a shot as you can or your ball may end up deep in a moat instead of sitting on the green. Nikon has made this as easy as possible with their Coolshot Pro II Stabilized, which uses technology from their cameras to increase stability in poor weather or for those with shaky hands. As expected from one of the most celebrated camera manufacturers on the market, the screen is also incredible, boasting an OLED display to help you narrow in on a target with remarkable clarity. There’s also an optional slope adjustment function if you want a full picture of what to expect on the terrain ahead of you.
This amounts to personal preference, but no, you don’t need a golf rangefinder to be able to play a game of golf. But if you take your game seriously, a good golf rangefinder will help you improve your distance tracking skills over time. In addition, a golf rangefinder will make you a faster and more efficient player by helping you avoid wasted shots that send you needlessly off target. Remember that while rangefinders can’t be used by the pros during a tournament, they do practice with them, which should be all the encouragement you need to get the best golf rangefinder you can.
Golfshot is one of the most popular golf rangefinder apps on the market for a reason. The free version features GPS tracking technology so you’ll always know where you are on the course, and lets you track each shot (and which club you’re using) for future reference. If you spring for Golfshot Pro, you’ll have access to 40,000 maps of courses from around the world, as well as real-time advice on which club will get you to your target faster.
Golf rangerfinders can range (lol) a bit in price, but for a high-quality model like the ones mentioned above, you’re looking at around $200-$300 USD.