Golf GPS or Laser Rangefinder – Which is Better?
In this article we’ll explore the benefits of golf GPS units in comparison to laser rangefinders for golf. Both devices are designed to provide golfers with accurate yardage readings, but they both function quite differently and each has different strengths and weaknesses.
How a Rangefinder Works
A rangefinder is much different than a GPS. It is an optical device which is somewhere between a pair of binoculars and a laser gun that would be used to measure speeding drivers by a highway patrol officer.
The optical system, much like a rifle scope, allows you to select and lock onto the object that you want to measure the distance for (a flag stick on a green for example).
Then the golf rangefinder shoots an “eye safe” laser at the target, and measures the time it takes for the laser to bounce off of the target and return to the rangefinder. From this time delay, the rangefinder can calculate accurately how far away the target is.
How a Golf GPS Unit Works
To keep it simple, a golf GPS is a satellite based mapping device. It communicates with overhead satellites to pinpoint your exact location on the Earth and then uses previously recorded locations on the golf course, to tell you the distance to any important locations near you (front of the green for the hole you are playing for example).
Advantages of a Golf GPS
You don’t have to aim it at a target to get a yardage reading. This can be an advantage if your target is not in your line of site; an elevated green or you are behind a bush for example.
Also, you don’t have to have a steady hand or accurate eye to line up a GPS unit like you would with a range finder.
Advantages of Laser Rangefinders for Golf
The latest model Range finders have up to 7x magnification. This can be very useful, not only for guiding the laser to get accurate yardage measurements to your target, but also for locating landing areas.
For example, it is impossible to locate a ridge on a green that could that should be avoided from 175 yards with the naked eye. With a range finder, you could spot it easily and play safely to the other side of the green, resulting in an easier birdie putt.
Another advantage is that a laser rangefinder can be used on the practice range to see how far you are hitting each club.
The short answer is neither a GPS nor rangefinder is better, they are similar, but different; and they have different strengths and weaknesses.
The best way to solve that problem is to have one of each! but that isn’t always realistic, so study the facts to decide which one is better for your game.