As a whole, rangefinders have exploded in popularity on the golf course in recent years. In many ways, they have made gauging distances on the course easier, eliminating the need to search for sprinkler heads, or use a course guide or yardage book. Now, with a quick click of a button, you can know exactly how far the pin is, how long it is to carry the edge of a bunker, the distance to stay short of a water hazard, etc., yet some might wonder ‘are rangefinders worth it?’
With all this convenience, you may think that everything laser rangefinders can do is great for the game. However, are there any pitfalls? Are there aspects about scoping yardages that may not only make the game harder, but also slow down the pace of play? This article will explore the pros and cons, and make sure you make an informed decision on whether or not you should own one.
What is a Rangefinder?
The way rangefinders work is simple: the golfer looks through the scope, and when the button is pressed once, crosshairs appear on the screen. You choose your target, and with another push of the button, you’ll instantly receive a yardage, some of them down to a tenth of a yard.
Some can even determine the amount of slope that will affect the distance (although this is not allowed for tournament play). Depending on your skill set, as well as other factors, rangefinders can be beneficial in certain aspects.
For instance, if you’re unsure about the distance from the tee or from the fairway to a lay-up point, this can be difficult to guess unless your golf course has a book or plates on the tee or fairway providing exact yardages. With a rangefinder, you can know precisely how much room you have for your shot in an instant, which saves a lot of time and guesswork. In this example, a rangefinder is beneficial for players of all abilities.
Your Handicap Might Matter
What about approach shots? Knowing how far you need to carry your ball to land on the green is useful, but this is one aspect where only certain players will benefit from exact yardages to the hole. Good players, anyone from single-digit handicaps up to professionals, can benefit more from having precise yardages since they have a better idea of how far their shots will carry on a consistent basis.
Anyone with a double-digit handicap or higher have larger dispersion patterns, and cannot predict their carry yardages as consistently. A GPS app or device will give players with higher handicaps a general idea of what the yardage is (at least to the front, center, and back of the green) and save them the hassle of trying to pinpoint the perfect yardage.
Helps With Distances
If you struggle with being able to see far distances, a rangefinder is a great tool to be able to see targets you’d have trouble seeing with the naked eye. They essentially work as a set of binoculars, which will allow you to see if the group in front of you is at a safe distance for you to hit your next shot, as well as bringing obstacles into clearer view so you can avoid them easier.
So, Are Rangefinders Worth it?
As a rule, you don’t want to spend more than $300 for a laser rangefinder. Considering this piece of equipment costs as much as a new driver, is it worthwhile? If you feel like it will save you time and strokes by eliminating any guesswork to the exact distance to your target, laser rangefinders are a smart investment.
If you’re just looking for something that will provide general distances to the green, get yourself a GPS, which are often 1/3 the cost of a laser rangefinder, and will save you the hassle of constantly looking for yardage plates and sprinkler head measurements. Add some of this technology to your bag and play better (and faster) golf today!