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Golf Gadgets. What’s the difference between a Laser Rangefinder or a GPS Rangefinder?

Find Out Which One Is More Suitable For You.

Golf Gadgets

Golf Gadgets.

We have moved on considerably from the days when yardages were stamped onto sprinklers. We now have Golf Gadgets such as GPS Rangefinders and Laser Rangefinders, both of which can be a great asset to regular golfers, but deciding which to purchase can be confusing.  There are pros and cons with each, but fundamentally they both provide you with precise yardages to work from. Having this knowledge to hand can vastly improve your game, helping you to choose the right club and determine the type of shot to take. You’ll no doubt find your confidence in the game will increase as a result.

What’s the difference between a GPS Rangefinder and a Laser Rangefinder?

A Golf GPS Rangefinder

Is a  standalone purpose Golf gadget, such as a watch with 100’s of golf courses already installed. By using satellites the GPS Rangefinder is able to determine your precise point on on our planet and the course you are on. It then provides you with detailed information on the course you are playing and distances between you and a fixture.

A key advantage of this type of Rangefinder is the ability to tell you the distance between yourself and a fixture that you may not be able to see. As a result you can plan how to play your game. Whilst thinking about your approach to the green, the GPS Rangefinder will provide you with distance numbers to the front, middle and back. This is a quick method of helping you choose which club to use. You don’t have to measure anything, as the information is already installed, so some would argue it speeds up the game.

Suited To…

These Golf gadgets are preferred by those golfers that like to see the hole view from end to end. If you play lots of different courses you should invest in a more expensive GPS Rangefinder, as it will provide more detailed hole maps. The SkyCaddie Touch GPS Rangefinder is an example of a top of the range, color Rangefinder offering  a fantastic user experience. As such it is very popular with the more serious golfers willing to invest that little bit more to get results! Using Bluetooth technology ensures that the maps you see are the most up-to date versions.



You can update GPS Rangefinders via Bluetooth technology or Website downloads. This allows you to edit the information yourself, to incorporate areas of the course you prefer to use as reference points. As a result you can customize yardages to and from particular fixtures such as bunkers or trees, irrespective of the mapped data. You may also be able to input your scores and calculate statistics and get an insight into shot patterns and rounds. This means that you can improve your weaknesses and grow your strengths.

This particular Golf Gadget is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative, cheaper option to the dedicated Laser Rangefinder, although remember you may have to pay an annual fee on the cheaper devices.

Additional Software..

Another variant of the GPS Rangefinder is to have a piece of software on your smartphone. There are currently lots of free apps available to download onto your existing phone. Whilst this may seem a great idea, bear in mind that some clubs do enforce a Cell Phone ban whilst on the course (you maybe too tempted to answer that call) so check with the golf clubs you are playing at first. Also, there are a lot of unreliable apps available, that will also bombard you with advertising and you’ll use up your time on the course trying to get rid of adverts appearing on your screen.

The battery life on your cell will be used up quicker (as it’s using more battery power to enable GPS) than on a dedicated device, so you’re likely to limit your time on the course. There is a lot of interest in using software on ours phones, but for the moment it would seem a dedicated device is the better route to go down.

A Golf Laser Rangefinder

These compete with the same technology as the GPS, but it has no GPS hardware, no installed maps of courses and it doesn’t rely on satellites. With a Laser Rangefinder, you simply point the device at the target and via laser bounce-back you’ll know the distance between yourself and the target. You therefore need to be able to see the fixture, unlike the GPS Rangefinders. Any fixture can be pointed at, such as flags or bunkers and most devices will decipher between a flag and a tree behind it.

Suited To..

Laser Rangefinders are also able to help you measure any change in factors that could affect your shot, such as temperature. Weather patterns such as rain or fog or even bright sunlight can sometimes impact on the performance of these devices. However, you will find the more expensive devices use displays which are able to adapt to the lighting conditions and are waterproof. Laser Rangefinders are a great advantage if you find it difficult just eyeballing distances.

Lots of golfers feel more in control when using a Laser Rangefinder. They prefer the freedom of not relying on GPS, or the recharging ritual involved with a GPS device. The Laser Rangefinder also has the advantage of offering yardages to the flag position prevailing on the day. The result is a precise yardage, over the GPS Rangefinder (despite some offering the ability to manually move flags). It does seem to suit the player that wants to be more precise about distances to the flag. They can also help you on the driving range, as they allow you to measure any distance from the target and help you to determine clubs to use and swing movement for a certain distance.

Many of the more popular Golf gadgets now have inbuilt slope detection which is a fantastic tool for the golfer. This means they can measure the level of slope by determining the reflected level beamed back. They then calculate and adjust the yardage depending on the degree of slope. Magnification is  5X plus,  for easy viewing. This means the accuracy from where you are to the object you are viewing is pretty much spot on.

Additional Software

JOLT technology is a mode which allows easy acquisition of the flag without inadvertently capturing background target distances. When more than one object is acquired, the closer of the two objects is shown on the LCD display. Short vibrating bursts reinforce the laser has locked onto the flag releasing any doubt about the target acquired. Having said that, you do need to be able to see the object you wish to measure the distance from, so the laser can bounce back. If you can’t see it, you can’t measure it.

Which one to buy?

To conclude, the above should give you a good insight into the differences between these two Golf Gadgets. It really does come down to your preferences of information required and the type of golfer you are. If you are keen to be precise with yardages and like seeing where you are aiming, the Laser Rangefinder is for you.

However, if the latter isn’t of vital importance to you and you like being able to map the course out and your clubs before you start the GPS Rangefinder will probably be more suitable. Both will help you choose your club better, it just depends how quickly you’d like to do it. Either way, I’m sure you’ll find one of these Golf gadgets useful!

Happy Golfing!

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