Choosing a Rangefinder or a GPS Unit

April 20, 2017

Choosing a Rangefinder or a GPS Unit

Rangefinders and global positioning system units are essential items in golf that perform a similar purpose yet have different technologies. In a nutshell, these types of equipment provide measurements to a particular target. GPS units can provide distances to the front, middle and back of green along with some key hazards on each hole. Laser rangefinders can give you precise distance to the hole itself and any other important distance measurements in sight. 

The old school way of pacing off distances off from sprinkler heads or other markers on fairways to determine the approximate yardages is quickly becoming outdated with the abundance of state-of-the-art distance-measuring devices available on the market today. Rangefinders and GPS devices have also  turned into popular gifts to for avid golfers. Just a couple of months back, Play Your Course, a website that specializes in pairing pros with students of the game, shared an article by Ren Gates that talked about some of the most creative presents for golfers. 

When it comes to choosing between a rangefinder and a GPS unit, it’s not enough to make 'the thought' count. Having said devices, these days, leans more towards a necessity rather than a superfluity.From a rangefinder standpoint, there are a variety of elements to consider. Some models can adjust yardages to slopes by adding or subtracting yards based on whether it’s an uphill or a downhill target. Some provide a burst of vibration to confirm the distance is locked-in. While some offer just the basic yardage, but are usually the most affordable.

GPS units, on the other hand, evolved from being exclusively installed in golf carts to becoming handier, more convenient to use. Today, there are also smartphone apps that have similar technologies and can actually talk and record statistics, including yardages, steps, and strokes. The ScoreBand LOOP (arriving in August) plans to sync with smartphone apps to make using them even more convenient.

To a certain degree, rangefinders and GPS units are apples and oranges, as each of these items – despite being characteristically similar – are different in a sense that they have their unique qualities. Initial cost, ease of use, and accuracy are three vital factors that may help players (and gift-givers) choose between a rangefinder and a GPS unit. So, before deciding and investing in one, it’s imperative to know the ins-and-outs of both devices. 

Even though rangefinders and global positioning system units are similar, both provide a helping hand in terms of refining a player’s game. Generally speaking, accessing yardages quickly with these devices speeds up pace-of-play too. As most players understand, in golf, it’s always important to make things as simple as possible to maintain the flow and enjoyment of the game.

As Paul Casey said, “Keep things simple. Find out what works and keep repeating it.” In the end, this same advice is applicable not just during play, but also important to consider when choosing the right equipment for your game.

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