How to Use a Golf Rangefinder?

Although golf rangefinders contain some high technology, they are surprisingly easy to use.  If you can work a digital camera or your car’s GPS system, then chances are you can learn how to use a rangefinder.  What first started out as a cool gadget to use has now become the norm in golf.  Rangefinders are starting to become a necessity in today’s game.  They speed up your game of golf, and have so many uses in a game.  If your competition is using one, then you’ll have to use one too if you want to beat them. There are two types of rangefinders on the market right now: laser rangefinders and GPS rangefinders.  One is not superior to the other; they will both do their job. Both have pros and cons to using them, it just depends on your preference.  If you are thinking of buying a rangefinder, or have recently purchased one, then here are the steps for using one.

How to Use a Golf Rangefinder

How to Use a Golf Rangefinder

The Steps for Using a Laser Golf Rangefinder

Laser rangefinders measure a target by hitting it with a laser.  They started being used in the hunting field, and then worked their way into golf just over a decade ago. The laser beam bounces back to the device; while a clock inside of the rangefinder times how long it took for the laser to go to the target and back.  So essentially all you have to do is point and shoot.  They are very easy to use.  If your golf course has prisms on the top of the golf flags, then it will be even easier because the rangefinder will lock onto the prisms.  Depending on which model you have, some will then suggest a club for you to use.

Step 1: Let’s say that you want to measure the distance to a flag stick.  First, point the rangefinder at the flag.  Look through the viewfinder and make sure the flag is in view.

Step 2: Press the trigger button on the device to shoot out the laser beam.  Once there is a measurement, the unit will usually make a beeping sound, or will vibrate to let you know it’s reached the target.  If you’re using a laser rangefinder that has a slope function on it, then it will calculate the true distance to the target by factoring in the elevation of where it is in relation to where you are.

Step 3: The distance will come up on the rangefinder’s screen.  Simply read it and choose which club to use from there.  If the rangefinder couldn’t find the flag, or if it read the distance of something in the background, then try again.  Some rangefinders have a battery saving mode and will turn off once you’re done measuring.  If yours doesn’t have one, then you can either turn it off to save power, or leave it on for the next hole.

The Steps for Using a GPS Rangefinder

GPS rangefinders have a couple more steps, and more planning involved.  They use pre-existing measurements to tell you how far away your targets are, instead of measuring on the spot.  If the course you’re playing on hasn’t been mapped out, then you won’t be able to use the GPS on that course.  GPS units can only give you measurements for objects that have already been previously measured.  GPS devices or applications can switch between yards, meters, feet, kilometers and miles.  Most of them look like either a watch, or a cell phone.

Step 1: At home, download the golf course onto your device.  You will probably need a monthly subscription service.  If you have a Smartphone, you can download a GPS app onto your phone for free.  There is at least one that uses Google Maps.

Step 2: When you get to the golf course, turn on your GPS rangefinder and wait for it to find a signal.  You’ll be able to see a bird’s eye view of the whole golf course.  With a laser model, you can only see what you point it at.

Step 3: Zoom in to choose the hole you’re going to play, or a target from the course you downloaded.

Step 4: Read the measurement from the GPS.  If you’d like to read the measurements for multiple shots, then tap on the screen more than once.

Step 5: When you’ve played that hole, the GPS will automatically go on to the next hole.  Most of them come with a manual option too, so if you’re playing on a different hole you can choose it yourself.  The apps will usually turn off to save battery life on your phone.

As mentioned before, there are pros and cons to both models.  Some laser rangefinders with a slope are not allowed for tournament play, while some GPS rangefinders aren’t allowed in some matches.  A GPS will always give you accurate measurements, since the readings are given to it usually from 3 or 4 different satellites.  But, you can only do readings on things that have already been measured.  A laser unit will give you accurate readings, but there is always room for human error.  However, you can measure pretty much anything you’d like to on the golf course.  Some golfers use both, they can complement each other quite nicely. You could use a laser rangefinder for the driving range, and a GPS for the course.

Both devices will give you fast and accurate readings.  A laser moves at the speed of light, so you will get results almost instantly.  A GPS is using maps that have already been programmed, so results are almost instant with one of those too.  Depending on the model, a laser rangefinder can read from 300 yards up to one mile.  GPS rangefinders will give you readings for everything in the course, no matter how far away things are.

They both cost approximately the same.  The cost of a laser rangefinder will span from about $150 to $800, depending on how many features it has.  A GPS app is free, while a GPS physical device can range from $100 to $350.  Whichever you choose, both will help you to shave strokes off of your game, and make your golf experience more enjoyable.