Golf, as you probably are well aware of if you are reading this, is already an impossible sport to master. If you can hit the ball well consistently, something always catches you up. Especially if you don’t have a loyal companion, the golfer’s best friend, the caddy, there by your side. Today, we’ll be taking a look at an alternative to that problem: the rangefinder. With the right rangefinder, you’ll no longer have to be guessing where the pin is or how far away it is. Instead, you’ll just be hitting the ball close to the hole and making dough. Our buying guide will be all about rangefinders, and by the end of it you will know more than you ever have before. We’ll also be reviewing the most popular ones on the market and answering any lingering questions you might have. So, let’s get out there and get to it!
Top Golf Rangefinders Comparison Chart
|Name||Max Range (yards)||Price||Where to Buy?|
|Vortex Optics Ranger Laser Rangefinders||1800||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|TecTecTec VPRO5000 Golf Rangefinder||540||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Bushnell Tour V4 Jolt Golf Laser Rangefinder||1000||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Nikon Coolshot 20 Golf Rangefinder||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Callaway 300 Pro Golf Laser Rangefinder||1000||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
Golf Rangefinders Buying Guide
Why Get One?
If you have ever played golf at a course you are unfamiliar with, it can be a harrowing experience. You don’t know where they place the pins or what the greens even look like once you get there. Are they sloped dramatically or are they flat? Are there dangerous bunkers that lurk or severe run offs if the ball hits a specific portion of the green? It’s not always possible to drive around the entire course or watch footage online, so a rangefinder is a good cure for your blues. In the old days, you just had to guess how far the hole was. Golf courses, most of the time at least, do their best to give you markers for distances and to use different colors for flag sticks to indicate where the hole positions are. But that’s just not good enough for someone that is super serious and wants their shot to be right on the money. If you don’t have a caddy, you will be left frustrated without a rangefinder for this very reason. Some people flat out can’t afford a caddy, or don’t have one readily available to them. If that is the case, then a rangefinder is a good, cost effective way to get you out of your funk and on to the best scores of your life. All from simply knowing what lurks around the corner!
Another thing that is will allow you to do is to zero in on how far you actually hit your shots. If you think you hit your wedge 140 yards, you might not really be hitting it that far. It could be a little longer or a little shorter but you are getting extra distance from either roll out or a change in elevation. A rangefinder can help you get acquainted to how far you hit the ball, though it is hard to mitigate for those high pressure moments you might feel when your juices are flowing, and to dial in your shots much better than ever before.
Features and Factors to Consider For Rangefinders
There are a lot of features that rangefinders have, and here is where we will break them all down for you, letting you know what is important and what is not as much so.
If you are going to go through the trouble of doing all of this research so that you can find a tool to help improve your game, then it had better actually do it well. Without having accuracy, you might as well just forget it and go in alone, crossing your fingers that you pick the right club and can see like an owl at night. Each rangefinder has a margin of error. Even the best ones are going to leave themselves some room for comfort there. Typically, you will see them range between half a yard, which is just incredible really to have such a low number, and two yards. If you come across one, no matter how inexpensive it might be, that has a margin of error of more than three yards, then you should absolutely NOT buy it. It’s just not accurate enough. Three yards doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but that is nine feet. Most amateurs struggle with nine footers, so if you are constantly that far off, it’s just no good to you.
The actual range, or the amount of distance that it can measure, is also very much worth pointing out and taking a look at. If the rangefinder doesn’t have a long enough range for your course, then you might be a little bit disappointed. With that said, it’s not the end of the world, since most of them are going to vary between 400 and 1000 yards. That’s a really long distance. Hardly anyone has ever hit the ball 400 yards before, so you will be able to see where it is you are hitting your next shot at all times. You might not be able to see the entire hole, but you will be informed on your own shot. Generally speaking, the better, more expensive ones have a longer range than their cheaper counterparts.
This part is not essential, but is still massive for amateur players. Before we go too far in, we need to point out that this feature is not allowed for tournament play just about anywhere. With that said, this is a nice addition to have that the more premium items will typically be offering. By including slope, it will be factoring in how much an increase or decrease in elevation affects the ball. So if you usually hit the ball 130 and there is a 10 foot rise, the machine might tell you to go with a club that would hit 140 instead. This is awesome to have when you are practicing and are new to an area or a course, since you don’t know you’re way around the fairways and greens as of yet.
Ease of Use
Another major obstacle to many people will be how hard it is to use the rangefinder. If you are not good at using computers or cell phones, then you might find yourself struggling to operate one of them. With that said, there are examples of rangefinders that do a great job at being accessible and then those that do a poor job. The ones that aren’t as accessible are likely best left to younger players and those that have better mastered technology. When you are looking for a product that is easy to use above all else, look for ones that have just one or two buttons and are smaller in size. It won’t be nearly as intimidating to you if you aren’t having to toggle through seemingly dozens of buttons to find what you need.
We briefly mentioned size above, but this needs to be expanded upon a little bit more. The size of your rangefinder is going to determine how well you can handle it. If you have large hands, then you are definitely going to want something that is a little bit bigger. Using two hands is actually preferable really, since you get better ‘ranging’ out of it, meaning you are better able to zero in on the distance. If you don’t think you will need that, then you can always just go with a smaller unit. Keep in mind that the bigger ones will also end up weighing more than the smaller ones, so you will have to have a think about that before going out and realizing it might be a tad too heavy for you.
Most of the rangefinders currently found and sold on the market are going to give you the chance to separate various targets out. This mode has been placed into these devices to help you pick out what you want when the green and surrounding areas are cramped by various landmarks. They could have all sorts of names to them, but most models are going to offer some sort of sound or vibration, or possibly a visual cue to let you know that you have locked in on the closest possible target. This way you don’t get confused on accident and get yardage based off of a tree in the background.
Another useful tool to look into getting is magnification. This feature is going to determine how well your product is able to lock in on targets and how quickly it will be able to do so. The numbers run from zero to 7X on the scale, with the larger the magnification is making the job much faster and easier for you. This can cost you a little bit up front, but it will save you time once you have hit the course.
The sun can bear down on you relentlessly when you are on the course, and if you have ever tried looking at your phone, you will know sometimes it is nearly impossible to see. Much like that, there can be issues that exist with rangefinders. Therefore, it’s important to find one that offers you the chance to be able to see no matter what the time of day is or what the weather might be. The best ones out there come with red numbers, that way the color is very easy to pick up on. The prices will be slightly higher for better visibility, but it’s sure worth it to not have that trouble holding you back.
Having a rangefinder that is water proof is something that the most ardent of golfers will need. If you are a golfer that doesn’t encounter a lot of rain, or if you plan on packing up and heading inside when it happens, this isn’t a big deal. But if you are full on playing in the rain like a pro would, then you will need some that is resistant to the elements. This is also very helpful in the winter as well, when the moisture tends to sit much more than during the warmer months. Also, even if you aren’t looking for something that is totally set up to avert the disaster of rain and weather, then you might want one that will stand up just a little bit to it without allowing it to get completely soaked.
This isn’t that big of a deal anymore, since most of the rangefinders nowadays can anywhere from six months to a year. But that’s still something to consider. If you find out that a rangefinder doesn’t do well over time, then you would be very wise to run away from it quickly.
If you are going to be spending the money on a rangefinder, you will want to make sure that it’s protected when you are not using it. To ensure you don’t end up breaking it or hurting it too badly in the event that you do drop it, you should look for a carrying case of some sort. On top of that, it will just make the whole package look much more professional, increasing your enjoyment of it.
Before we get into the meat of our reviews, we should talk about price. The price is always going to be important to you. As far as that goes, there are many options. You can find some that are cheaper and some that are very expensive on the market. The cheaper you go, the less durable and the less features they are going to have included. If you are just starting out, this might be right up your alley. But if you are wanting the best of the best, and you don’t want to replace it, then you can go with a more expensive choice. The good news is that you do not have to break the bank for a rangefinder. You can find some that are in the double digits. You just might not get all the frills you’d have hoped for with it.
The Top 5 Golf Rangefinders Reviews of 2019
Vortex Optics Ranger Laser Rangefinders
Vortex kicks off our list here with a rangefinder that hardly anyone hates or even just likes. This ‘Ranger’ comes in three different versions, with the 1800 having a range of up to 1800 yards. Because of that, it’s great for a couple of purposes: golf and hunting, as well as other things, too. With a scan feature, it will continuously scan for targets. It’s also waterproof and will be resistant to fog, making it ideal when the weather you face isn’t its absolute best. The lenses are coated multiple times allowing for light to hit it better so that it will be easy to see in all conditions. It has a lanyard and removable clip as well, allowing you to just keep it close by and on you so you don’t have to wonder where you put it. The number one gripe you might have with it is the price, which is the highest we will see on our list. However, it’s just a solid overall product that’s worth a look.
- Great in all weather
- Very versatile
- Very long range
- Most expensive on the list
TecTecTec VPRO5000 Golf Rangefinder
Down toward the more affordable range is the VPRO5000 from TecTecTec. Like the previous listing, this one comes with continuous scanning mode but will give you a range of just 540 yards. That doesn’t seem like most, but that should help you easily see all of the hole at virtually every golf course that isn’t made for pros to play on. It’s also one of the lightest on the market, making it super portable and an excellent choice for newbies to rangefinders. With an outer shell that is both resistant to water and dust, it’s ideal for taking outside when the weather isn’t what you hoped it might be. It comes with all kinds of add ons, too, with a premium carrying case, cleaning cloth, a guide, and a massive guarantee for two years. In addition, they promise to work with you for the life of the rangefinder via their customer support. It’s hard to get a whole lot better than this one, especially for the price that you can find it at. It’s not the most consistent one out there, but it is still great for the price.
- Very light and portable
- Lots of additional tools
- Resistant to water and dust
- Not as consistent as others
Bushnell Tour V4 Jolt Golf Laser Rangefinder
Bushnell is one of the biggest players in this market, and it’s easy to see why wit the V4 Jolt. This rangefinder ranges between 500 and 100 yards and will give accurate distances to the pin from up to 400, maybe more, yards away. The focusing system is well worth taking a look at, since it does it very quickly, allowing you to get into your routine quicker and take less time while getting great yardages. It’s accuracy is great, with a one on the margin for error scale. That’s astounding. This rangefinder isn’t the cheapest one you’ve ever seen, but it’s also not the highest priced one, either, and you won’t have many qualms giving up the money for such quality. One thing to be very careful with is to not expect slope to be read on this device. It looks like they might have it on offer, but they do not, so don’t let this fool you. Also, a very steady hand is needed to use it well.
- Quick focus
- Long pin readings
- Medium price range
- Steady hands are a must
- No slope feature contrary to what it might claim
Nikon Coolshot 20 Golf Rangefinder
There is no surprise to see a company like Nikon on here. They are a leader in cameras, so this is not a stretch for them one bit. This Coolshot comes available with a bonus kit that has two batteries, pushing that worry off your mind for a little while. It’s also the smallest and lightest version of the rangefinder that Nikon have ever produced, making it great for someone that just wants to get on the move and play. On top of that, it is super easy to use. One touch of the button causes it to start scanning for targets to hit, making it ideal for older players and those that are not good with tech. It will pick out the first object every time, too, making your job so much easier when you are on the course. It’s also quite a good deal for what you get, and that will make many people very happy to know. It’s hard to get it to give great yardages over a couple hundred yards, so be wary of that fact.
- Great for newer users
- Very portable device
- Good price
- Not great for longer distances
Callaway 300 Pro Golf Laser Rangefinder
Rounding out the list is Callaway, who have led in the golf industry in all kinds of genres. This rangefinder might be the nicest, classiest looking one we’ve seen so far. In addition to having a very reasonable price attached to it, it comes with 6x magnification, one notch off the very best, and has a range of between 500 and 1000 yards. The technology it has built into it locks in quickly and efficiently up to 300 yards away, and it has an accuracy of one yard. Once you have locked on to the flag, it will chirp much like a bird to signify that you have found your target area. On top of all of that, you are able to scan multiple targets all at once, allowing you to consider every single factor that is presented before you while out on the course. It even has the slope features that will help you factor in the declines and inclines of the ground, helping you to improve your scores by taking everything into account. The negative here is that they have placed buttons very close to each other, making it hard to avoid accidentally pressing the wrong one from time to time.
- Great magnification
- Noise to verify targeting
- Has slope identification
- Placement of buttons could have been better
Conclusion And Final Golf Rangefinders Recommendations
With so many training aids, guides, and other information so readily available online, finding a good rangefinder can be very tough for you to do. There’s just so much to pick through that it can become intimidating and nearly impossible to overcome. If you want to increase your scores and be happier with your overall game, then the best bet is to go with a rangefinder on the course. Sure, it won’t be a quick fix that cures all ills for you, but it will do a very effective job at helping you pinpoint just where the hole is and where you need to place the ball. After our guide today, you will have a much better grasp on the situation and will be much better suited to make the best, most informed decision possible. Read more below on our FAQ’s if you have any other questions. If not, happy hitting!
FAQ’s About Golf Rangefinders
Are Rangefinders Allowed In Tournaments?
In almost all cases, rangefinders are NOT allowed in tournament play. This is because some of them have slope measuring capabilities. This is not allowed at all, so you will not be able to play if yours has this in a tournament. The reason we’ve put almost is because there are always going to be one or two courses or clubs that will allow them to be used. But by and large, this is not going to be allowed. It’s just against the spirit of the game, really. There is nothing wrong with using a rangefinder as a practice tool, but the game and rules of golf are quite explicit about giving yourself an advantage. A rangefinder could give you one over, say a player that knows the course very well thanks to research, so it’s just not seen as being fair. However, if you are super serious you will most likely have a caddy or will know the course well, so it will cancel that out. There is no rule that would stop you from practicing there with one, however, before the tournament takes place!
Is a Rangefinder Better Than A Caddy?
This is a common question, and really it’s all going to come down to you. Personally, we’d say no to this question. You can converse with your caddy more than a rangefinder, for obvious reasons. While a rangefinder is awesome for what it does, it can’t talk to you. It can’t read a putt, it can’t tell you that the ball runs out if it hits a certain area, or anything like that. It can just give you distances. Now, if you don’t have the money, or if you don’t have people around to caddy, then a rangefinder is really great. It’s just a matter of what you believe and are able to afford above all else.
Are Rangefinders Good For Other Activities, Too?
They sure are! Because they are accurate at giving you distances, people have found joy out of them for numerous activities. Hunting, military missions, and even engineering have used this as a tool quite well in the past. You could even use them if you are just hiking around and wondering how far it is to certain landmarks. It’s not a one dimensional thing at all, much like a pair of binoculars used to be!
Do You Have To Spend A Lot of Money?
Price might be a big concern to you, and if it is, you will want to know if you will have to spend a pretty penny for a good rangefinder. The good news is that you can find a good rangefinder without breaking your own personal bank. It might not have all the bells and whistles that the other, more expensive examples have, it will have what you need from it. With that said, the more you spend, the better off you are going to be in general terms. The higher the price, the longer it will last and the more features it will have. If you don’t need as many features, then you can find yourself one that is really quite the deal!
Don’t Rangefinders Slow Down Pace of Play?
Alright, you got us. They very well could. But if, and only if, you aren’t ready and able to use them effectively. Unless you are playing with a true speed golfer, you can take this factor out entirely by having your rangefinder within reach at all times. If you are on a cart, keep it on the seat beside you. If you are walking, have it in the most accessible area of your bag. You can start to pick out your target(s) as you are walking even, so it does NOT have to slow you and your group down that much, if at all, if you use it correctly. There will be times where you might need to go a little faster. Maybe a playing partner is behind you but close by. You can take the distance from theirs and walk the rest. It’s still a much better way than without it. Just be courteous and allow yourself some time to get used to it before you break it out on a very busy day.
Do Rangefinders Really Lower Your Score?
The rangefinder itself is not going to be your new magic wand that suddenly makes you Dustin Johnson. But it can have a tremendous affect on your game. It will give you a much closer read on how far you need to hit the ball, making club selection easier. This is naturally going to make you more confident in yourself. You won’t be stepping up there crossing your fingers that you picked out the right club anymore. You’ll just be doing it. Over the long run, it will pay off, though you might find it tough to begin with.