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Distance measuring devices for golf

Golf Rangefinder or GPS Watch: Which Is Best for You

 

If you are a serious golf player, you cannot deny the importance of a Distance Measuring Device (DMD). These greatly help you practice hitting great golf shots and become a pro at your game. Laser Rangefinders and a GPS watch are two devices that perform the same function. They provide distance data to navigate you to the hole — but slightly differently. To choose one, you should know the inherent usage, features, usability, and price points of each.

This article will help you understand their functionalities to make an informed choice on what would better solve your purpose. On the face of it, neither of these products is superior to the other. However, some aspects can influence your golf experience. Let us first consider how these devices are different from each other.

Laser Rangefinder

A laser rangefinder works on the time of flight principle. It sends a light beam to the target and records the time it takes to reflect back. The result is presented in yards or meters. This device can measure a distance of up to 1 mile with a precise accuracy of 0.5 cm within 1.5 seconds.

The course doesn’t always have to be straight when using a rangefinder, as most modern rangefinders have slope functionality. Moreover, you can measure the exact distance to a hazard, bunker, or treeline, even in dim lights. However, a rangefinder is not ideal for measuring the distance to an undulation or a blind hole — where the hole is not visible.

GPS Watch

A GPS watch operates with pre-programmed maps of golf courses. Some might have a subscription fee for loading more courses, unlike no deposit bonus codes Australia which you can get at a casino for different games including golf-themed ones, where you won’t have to pay anything. 

Many golfers wear it to measure the distance to the hole, layups, and other obstructions on the course. It can be operated with touch functionality and comes in daylight readable screens. Apart from measuring distances, it can also record game statistics, but for an added subscription fee. Modern golf GPS watches are also enabled with all the features of smartwatches, such as monitoring oxygen and blood pressure, voice calling, and so on.

GPS Watch or a Laser Rangefinder — What is Better?

When choosing a distance-measuring device, a GPS watch and the Rangefinder serve the purpose, and nothing is inherently better than the other. The choice ultimately depends on your specific needs and requirements. In the table below we consider the differences between these options, so you can choose the one that suits your needs best.

AspectGPS WatchLaser Rangefinder
Use caseIdeal for measuring distances to all the permanent hazards and the holeCan also deliver distance information on temporary hazards
UsabilityIt records match stats and also contains many other features, such as measuring steps and health-monitoring toolsIt is explicitly meant for distance measurements and record match statistics in golf
AccuracyMore accurate in judging a course with obstructionsMore precise measurement to a specific point
Cost-effectivenessAvailable at various price pointsIt is more expensive than a GPS watch, and the cost can go up to A$600 or more
ConvenienceSleek and lightweight — can be worn on a wristIt is bulky and has to be carried separately in a bag
Battery life Must be charged regularly via a USB with up to 7-day battery lifeThe battery can last for up to 5800 uses, but it must be replaced within a year
Weather disturbancesWorks well in all weather conditionsThick fog and rain might affect performance
Light conditionsThe display has in-built lights, and outside light does not affect the displayWorks well in low-light conditions
Data usagePre-loaded data does not need the internet to operate, but transmission to an app will require dataWorks in real-time with a laser beam, no internet requirement

The Main Pros & Cons of GPS Watch

A GPS watch measures the distance to the front, centre, and back of the green (the area where the pin is located) rather than the exact pin location. But, it is better suited to a terrain with a lot of obstructions and provides more accurate yardage to each. However, you can manually adjust the pin location in some watches to measure the distance.

You can look at your watch and plan your shot without pulling your rangefinder out of the case. Also, watches are lightweight and do not interfere with your performance. However, a GPS watch might not be suitable if the course design changes with more bunkers or hazards added to the course.

The Main Pros & Cons of Laser Rangefinder

A laser rangefinder is ideal for more accurate and speedy measurements. Apart from the high cost, a major drawback of a rangefinder is that it records only what you can see. Also, you have to hold it steady for the measurement, which is unsuitable for people with shaky hands.

A golf rangefinder with a slope functionality provides more accurate measurements in courses with undulations, but it is not allowed in golf competitions. They also have advanced features like magnified optics and internal LED displays.

A rangefinder should be carried all the time separately, compared to a watch you easily strap off your wrist. However, modern rangefinders come in more handy sizes and built-in magnets for attaching them to the golf cart for added convenience.

Primary Factors To Consider When Making Your Choice

Let us round up how you should decide when choosing between a rangefinder and a GPS watch:

  • Extra features: If you use the added functionality a GPS watch provides with coloured maps and your fitness tracker, you might go with a watch. However, if you will not use these features anyway, a rangefinder is more accurate for measuring the exact distance to the pin with pin lock/vibration and slope technology.
  • Portability: A watch is more portable and can be carried on your wrist wherever you go. A rangefinder needs a bit of space and has to be carried separately in a bag.
  • Golf course layout: Some rangefinders might not work great with tree branches and other obstructions. A watch works better if the distance to the green has doglegs and blind tees.
  • Current weather conditions: Extreme weather conditions might affect the performance of a rangefinder.

FAQs

What should I consider when buying a golf rangefinder?

You should check the accuracy, features like slope functionality and flag pole locking, durability, weight, battery life, and scan speed of the device before making your choice.

Do I always need to carry my phone when using a GPS watch?

Some GPS watches have built-in chips to provide navigation even when you are offline. They have pre-loaded information on golf courses worldwide. However, the bigger display makes GPS more convenient on a phone screen than on a watch.

Can I do shot tracking or performance tracking with a rangefinder?

Some models offer advanced statistics that display when a shot is hit and the location of the pin on the course. You can analyse your performance with it and get better at your game. Some GPS watches also have performance tracking features.

What to consider when buying a GPS watch?

You should check the display quality in bright sunlight, number of preload courses, hazard-locating data, and if your watch comes with a subscription fee.

NCG

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