There’s always have been that long debate among golfers on which gear is better: Golf GPS or golf rangefinder? Ask a golfer who have used each one and they have their own opinion to voice out, especially to newbies out there asking for advice. While GPS devices are useful for navigation and mapping through golf courses, some of the best rated rangefinder for hunting can have dual modes where you can also use them for golf as well.
The main tech that makes laser rangefinders useful to golfers is its ability to calculate distances accurately. While laser rangefinders are among modern hunters, its use extends to other long-range sports. It takes away the need to master the skill on how to read distances manually, which is more of a guessing game. Before, golfers depend on flags and other objects in the field to estimate the distance from where they stand. Nowadays, it can be as simple as getting a reading from a laser rangefinder.
- Distance Calculation
A laser rangefinder calculates the distance of an object or target by pointing a laser beam to it and measuring the time it takes the beam to travel back. There’s no need to go deep on the science behind this, it does the job for you in a second and the quality of the readings depend on the target density, lighting and weather conditions.
On the other hand, a Golf GPS uses satellite mapping to determine where you stand and distances of the surrounding objects. This is the very tech that’s inside car navigation systems and which shows a map of your surroundings, where you are and the direction you’re moving. High-end golf GPS units can determine a location as accurate to about a yard. Other lower and cheaper models can have offset of a couple yards.
- Price Range
Most of us decide on our purchases by the price tag. If you want free GPS, you can download free apps for your phone and use your device’s built in GPS tech. Of course, the accuracy will depend on the software, your network and the GPS in your device.
For the price of a golf GPS or a laser rangefinder that’s designed for that sport, low to mid-range units can cost from a hundred bucks and more. It will depend on the brand or manufacturer and additional features in it. For golf laser rangefinders, optics in it will also play a factor in the price tag.
- Accuracy and Performance
Now let’s discuss the winning variables, accuracy and consistency. A laser rangefinders’ accuracy depends on numerous factors like it’s built-in optics, tech and the weather. In terms of measuring the distance using a laser, the performance is accurate and consistent that’s why its a must-have for long-range hunters.
For Golf GPS devices, the accuracy of high quality units are comparable to that of a laser rangefinder. As mentioned earlier, it can be as accurate as just one yard offset from the actual location of a target hole.
Both laser rangefinders and golf GPS devices are small enough to be carried in your bag or pocket. Most laser rangefinder units are designed to be ultra compact and with rugged housing. All you need to do is aim the reticle on the target, get a reading and you’re on your game.
On the other hand Golf GPS devices can come in various forms. As mentioned earlier, you can download free GPS apps for your phone. Other GPS devices are designed on handheld tablets, or for those looking for the ultimate portability, you can get belt clips or GPS watches. The nice feature on GPS devices is that they usually come with software with preloaded golf courses. You can upgrade your maps real-time or download additional modes with software updates.
Now let’s weigh in the pros and cons of each device so we can look at the bigger picture.
- More accurate ranging due to laser technology.
- Designed for outdoor sports, with long life battery and rugged casing.
- There are laser rangefinders that can take in factors like slopes or inclines in terrain into its measurements.
- Can be used in various sports, apart from golf.
- Statistics tracking is not a common feature in a laser rangefinder.
- Syncing data to your phone or computer is not readily available to every model.
- Bulky compared to golf GPS devices.
- Not ideal to use where there are a lot of moving people ahead. It can obstruct the laser and can cause offsets on the readings.
- Your hand needs to be supported or steady when using it. Shakes or vibrations can cause deviations on distance measurements.
- Unlike Golf GPS, you have to look at the scope to aim the reticle on your target. The readings are not automatically updated based on your location, and you have to grab your unit from your pocket or bag everytime you need a new reading.
- GPS apps can be downloaded in your phone for free.
- GPS watches, fitness bands and belt clips can be synced to your software or tablet.
- Sharing statistics and other data to your phone or computer is easy.
- Accurate to a yard for high quality models
- Some golf GPS models can have cool voice assistant features. This way you don’t need to grab your tablet or phone to look at the screen.
- Accuracy in distance and location within the map is not as accurate and consistent as laser rangefinders. If you need high performing Golf GPS, you’ll need to invest in a high quality unit which usually means a higher price tag.
- You need to download golf courses first. Whereas for laser rangefinders, you can use it even without a pre-loaded map on your device.
- If you have not updated the map of the golf course and it have changed, then it’s going to a pain. There might be new objects, or slopes that are not included in an old preloaded course. This means you also have to depend on the manufacturer’s golf course database, and if they have not updated it, you might receive inaccurate distances.
- GPS devices are battery drainers especially for phones or tablets.
Which is better, Laser Rangefinder or Golf GPS?
In conclusion, both devices have their own strong points. To which one is best for you, It will depend on how accurate you need the distances to be, and how much you value portability, and other techie features. For those who need high quality readings, it would be in the favor of laser rangefinder. However, if you’re the golfer who loves features like the ability to sync your statistics online and to other devices, a golf GPS may be more of your liking.