Laser Golf Rangefinder VS GPS : Which One Would You Choose?

In golf, there are two different rangefinders to choose from: laser and non-laser.  Non-laser rangefinders are known as GPS rangefinders.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both units, and there are a few different factors to consider when buying one.  Both laser and GPS rangefinders are fast, accurate, small, and easy to operate.  They will both improve your game.  But which one is the best one for you?

Laser Golf Rangefinder VS GPS : Which One Would You Choose?

Advantages to a Laser Rangefinder

Laser rangefinders are extremely quick since a laser moves at the speed of light.  Usually, you get results almost instantly.  The longest it would take is between 1 and 2 seconds.  All you do is the point at what you want to measure and press a button.  The laser shoots out, bounces off the target, and returns to the device.  A computer chip then times how long it took the laser to do that, and that’s how it calculates the measurement.  Laser units are very accurate too.  If you have prism technology at your golf course, then it can lock on to the prisms at the top of the golf flags.  They have a high range, as some laser rangefinders can measure targets up to one kilometer away.  With most laser units, you can magnify the target between 5 and 7 times.  They are small portable and can fit in your pocket.

Disadvantages to a Laser Rangefinder

One disadvantage is the cost.  They are more expensive than GPS rangefinders.  If you just want a basic rangefinder, you can get one for around $150.  If you want one with more features, then it can cost upwards of $1000.  If you have invested in a rangefinder with a slope, then it won’t be allowed in tournaments and other regulated play.  A laser device is prone to human error, while a GPS depends on satellites.  It can also be more of a challenge to use if you have shaky hands.  It can be hard to get a reading in the fog, tall grass, or if there has been a frost recently.  They are very fragile and can break or dent easily, and you have to be really careful not to scratch the lens.

Advantages to a GPS Rangefinder

GPS rangefinders are less expensive than their laser counterparts.  They usually range from $100 to $350, and you can even download a GPS to your phone for free.   They are very easy to use, and have a large LCD screen.  If you can program the GPS for your car, then you can definitely figure out a GPS rangefinder.  With a laser rangefinder, you have to point and shoot at an object, but all you have to do with a GPS one is look at the screen.  While a laser rangefinder gives readings up to 1 kilometre, GPS units let you read the whole course at once in a bird’s eye view.  It will continually update you on where you are and where you are going.  You can store up to 10 golf courses on the GPS, since many golfers don’t go to the same one all the time.  It has a long battery life, lasting up to 16 hours.

Disadvantages to a GPS Rangefinder

Since the GPS measurements are based on readings from satellites, you can only see the readings for things that have already been measured by someone else.  You have to download the map for the golf course you’re going to at home before you go play, so there is more planning involved.  If you’re playing at a new course, it may not have been mapped out yet.  When magnifying the target, you can only magnify as much as the satellite’s info will allow.  Some GPS companies only let you download a certain number of courses, depending on your subscription.  Subscriptions are usually due yearly, so even though a GPS may be cheaper at first, it does cost more in the long run.

In my opinion, I would choose a laser rangefinder.  They are very fast, and more accurate than a GPS rangefinder.  I think you have more freedom over what you want to measure, and I don’t like the idea of paying a subscription every year.  But, you have to find which option works best for you.  Do your research, ask friends what they use, and check out the manufacturer’s website.  You may not know which one you prefer until you’ve played with both.