Best Golf Rangefinder – Reviews and Buying Guide 2017

Looking for the Best Golf Rangefinder for your game? You’ve come to the right place!

In this comprehensive guide, we rank and provide detailed overviews on the best golf rangefinders on sale at the moment. The guide separates rangefinders by price and features to help you find the best golf rangefinder for your game.

The rangefinders featured in this guide have been selected and assessed based on our personal experience and assessments, expert feedback, consumer reviews and feedback from the wider Golf Assessor community. We update this page regularly to ensure we keep up with new developments and releases in the golf rangefinder industry.

We put this article together to help players, like yourself, find a golf rangefinder that suits their specific game, level and budget. By keeping this guide updated and via feedback from the GA community, we hope this article becomes a great resource for anyone looking to get a new rangefinder.

Best Golf Rangefinder

Listed below are the best golf rangefinders on the market currently:

  1. Bushnell Tour Z6 Jolt
  2. Bushnell Tour V4 Slope
  3. Bushnell Pro X7 Jolt
  4. Scoreband Vibe SL600
  5. TecTecTec VPRO500
  6. Bushnell Tour X
  7. Leupold GX-2i2
  8. Precision Pro NX7
  9. Callaway 300
  10. Lofthouse Proscope 400X
  11. Nikon Coolshot 40i
  12. Callaway Micro Laser
  13. Leupold GX-4i2
  14. GolfBuddy LR5
  15. Nikon Coolshot 20

Golf Rangefinder Comparison Table (Ranked 1 to 10)

Below we profile the best golf rangefinders we assessed (ranked 1-10). To read the full review on any rangefinder just click ‘Read Review’.

Image DescriptionScore Offers
Bushnell Tour Z6 Jolt Rangefinder Review

Bushnell Tour Z6 Jolt Rangefinder Review

One of the key elements of creating a great product – whether that’s rangefinders or widgets – is to avoid ...

Editor choice
2 Bushnell Tour V4 Slope Rangefinder Review

Bushnell Tour V4 Slope Rangefinder Review

Bushnell describe this product as “the perfect combination of size, speed, accuracy, slope and jolt.” After ...

3 Bushnell Pro X7 Jolt Rangefinder Review

Bushnell Pro X7 Jolt Rangefinder Review

So, I’ll be frank. When I first picked up the Bushnell Pro X7, there was one thing I just couldn’t take my eyes off… ...

4 Leupold GX-2i2 Rangefinder Review

Leupold GX-2i2 Rangefinder Review

Leupold certainly have a winning formula when it comes to rangefinders, and the GX product line is a classic ...

5 Bushnell Tour X Rangefinder Review

Bushnell Tour X Rangefinder Review

The Bushnell Tour X Rangefinder has upped the anti in the rangefinder market with its interchangeable Faceplate ...

6 Callaway 300 Rangefinder Review

Callaway 300 Rangefinder Review

As one of the pioneers in driver technology, who would have thought Callaway would try their hand at becoming a ...

7 Lofthouse Proscope 400X Rangefinder Review

Lofthouse Proscope 400X Rangefinder Review

Why spend $500 on a rangefinder, when you can spend a third of that on a rangefinder? That’s the position ...

8 Nikon Coolshot 40i Rangefinder Review

Nikon Coolshot 40i Rangefinder Review

Nikon isn't the first brand that jumps to mind when you think about golf or rangefinders. But given their strong ...

9 Leupold GX-4i2 Rangefinder Review

Leupold GX-4i2 Rangefinder Review

When it comes to optics in general, you wouldn’t dare argue that Leupold don’t know their stuff. They have a ...

10 Nikon Coolshot 20 Rangefinder Review

Nikon Coolshot 20 Rangefinder Review

I’m always a bit reticent when I see non-golfing brands making leaps across industry channels. Maybe it’s a ...

Best Golf Rangefinder by Category

Here is a brief overview of the best golf rangefinder by category:

  • #1 Ranking Goes To: Bushnell Tour Z6 Jolt Rangefinder
  • Editor’s Choice: Bushnell Tour V4 Slope Rangefinder
  • Pro’s Choice: Bushnell Pro X7 Jolt Rangefinder
  • Best Value: Scoreband Vibe SL600 Rangefinder
  • Best Price: TecTecTec VPRO500 Rangefinder
  • Worthy Competitors: Bushnell Tour X Rangefinder, Leupold GX-2i2 Rangefinder, Precision Pro NX7 Rangefinder, Lofthouse Proscope 400X Rangefinder, Callaway 300 Rangefinder, Nikon Coolshot 40i Rangefinder, Callaway Micro Laser, Leupold GX-4i2, GolfBuddy LR5, Nikon Coolshot 20

Ranked #1 Best Golf Rangefinder

Bushnell Tour Z6 Jolt Rangefinder

One of the keys to developing a good product line – whether that’s rangefinders or bread – is to steer clear of reinventing the wheel, and that’s where the Bushnell Z6 Jolt excels.

The original Tour Z6 ticked a lot of boxes, not least in terms of magnification and eye-of-the-needle precision. But it had one or two areas which had room for improvement, and that’s where the new Z6 Jolt has helped to crank things up a notch.

With the new Z6 Jolt you’ve got excellent magnification, a decent size, accuracy to within 0.5 yards and a super speedy and vivid display. The Jolt function is by far the best out of all the rangefinders we tested.

If you not overly impressed with the V4 Slope’s magnification and if you are concerned about the X7’s size, the Z6 Jolt provides the perfect compromise and the reason why it tops are rankings as the best golf rangefinder.

For our full review of the Bushnell Tour Z6 click here.

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Here is a summary of the pros and cons.

PROS:
  • This rangefinder oozes quality, and its compact size makes it a really convenient addition to your golfing artillery
  • The contrast of the white aluminum and the rubber is pleasing on the eye
  • Some might think the extreme accuracy of this rangefinder is surplus to requirements, but we’re all for it
  • Had to mention the jolt in here, didn’t we? Love it – and you will too

CONS:
  • There isn’t a significant faux pas with the Z6 Jolt to be honest. Possibly price – but not value!


Editor’s Choice

Bushnell Tour V4 Slope Rangefinder

Bushnell are undoubtedly the market-leaders in rangefinders. Out of the seven assessors at Golf Assessor, five are Bushnell users.

With the Tour V4 Slope Rangefinder, Bushnell have produced an incredibly versatile and effective rangefinder. They describe the V4 as “the perfect combination of size, speed, accuracy, slope and jolt.”

We couldn’t agree more.

The V4 feels great in the hand. It’s lightweight, but still feels solid. Unlike it’s big daddy, the Pro X7, the V4 can be held and stabilised in one hand, and with it’s ergonomic design it is truly pocket-size.

In terms of performance we were super impressed with the speed and accuracy of the V4. The target focus is incredibly quick and the jolt when you lock the target gives one that additional confidence before taking one’s shot.

But our favorite feature on the V4 is the slope functionality. Seriously folks, the slope feature is a game-changer and what really separates the V4 from the competition.

If you are looking for a rangefinder that will last you years of great golfing, then we highly recommend the V4.

For our full review of the Bushnell Tour V4 Slope Rangefinder click here.

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Here is a summary of the pros and cons.

PROS:
  • A true pocket-size rangefinder. It’s compact size, minimal weight and ergonomic design are at the heart of its genius
  • The slope technology is a massive drawcard
  • You’ll be staggered at how quickly it focuses
  • The price offers good value for money

CONS:
  • We’d say 5X magnification is certainly acceptable. But it isn’t the best
  • It’s water resistant, but not waterproof


Pro’s Choice

Bushnell Pro X7 Jolt Rangefinder

The Bushnell Pro X7 is arguably the best golf rangefinder on the market. The 7x magnification is extraordinary – you seriously feel you are standing right next to the target that is over 200 yards away.

Moreover the range is out of this world – targets over 550 yards away can be locked in!

So what are the downsides?

Well firstly, it ain’t the cheapest rangefinder on the market. In fact, it’s at the top-end, so unless you are serious about the game, the Pro X7 is probably not for you.

Also it is pretty chunky. It’s weight and size means two-hands are required to stabilise it and it certainly won’t fit in your pocket.

If you have a low single figure handicap or better, and play regularly, then we think the Pro X7 is a great investment, but for the rest of the pack we recommend looking at the V4 Slope or the Leupold GX-2i2.

For our full review of the Bushnell Pro X7 Rangefinder click here.

Global Golf (Final Clearance Price!) Best Prices and Discounts on Amazon

Here is a summary of the pros and cons.

PROS:
  • Quality, quality, quality – this rangefinder has it in spades. And it’s easy to use too
  • The range and accuracy is unreal, locking down flags up to 550 yards away, and reflective objects over a mile away. And quickly too
  • Like the Z6, it still maintains its stylishness. And the jolt when you lock the target in is a treat
  • You won’t need much convincing of its durability. I reckon it would outlive Armageddon

CONS:
  • It costs an arm and a leg, which will scare some away, no doubt. But maybe not you, once you’ve played around with it?
  • It’s big, and quite heavy. Best to keep both paws wrapped around it when using it


Best Value

Scoreband Vibe SL600 Rangefinder

Could this be one of the gems of 2017?

Scoreband may not be much of a golfing household name, but in this case, that seems to have worked to the consumer’s advantage, given the price tag. And that consumer could be you!

“All the features you need. At the right price” their website roars. And, having looked at it in detail – it’s hard to argue – the Vibe SL600 is the whole nine yards. True, the slope and vibration technology are nothing new (the jolt equivalent, most notably, with Bushnell). But you simply will not find another decent rangefinder with slope tech on the market for $200 or so (potentially even cheaper on Amazon Prime).

But it isn’t just the slope tech factor that got our attention. This rangefinder ticks all the right boxes. Target acquisition is almost instant. It was accurate too – within a yard of the Bushnell Tour Z6 Jolt (which we used as a testing reference) every time. It also powers up really easily, and the flag-lock vibration is right on cue (the vibration also works well on other targets).

It’s possibly a smidgeon bulkier than some of its competitors. Slope technology also won’t be beneficial for everyone. But we’re talking fine, and subjective, lines here. Our only possible takeaway from the SL600 experience was that we were very, very impressed. These rangefinders are going to fly off the shelves – mark our words.

Best Prices and Discounts on Amazon

Here is a summary of the pros and cons.

PROS:
  • 600-yard range is plenty; plus, both focus and accuracy hold good well beyond the 200-yard mark
  • Fits very comfortably, and the eyepiece even has adjustable focus
  • Slope technology is a big drawcard if you seldom play on flat courses, while the vibration system is flawless
  • Incredible value. Just incredible

CONS:
  • Display of slope values could be a little clearer. They don’t do decimals for yardages either
  • A little chunky in build (but a very comfortable fit nonetheless!)


Best Price

TecTecTec VPRO500 Rangefinder

TecTecTec have done one thing absolutely right – they’ve made rangefinders more accessible in terms of price, and the VPRO500 lays down the marker in this respect.

At $150, it undercuts almost all of the big players. Importantly though, it’s actually a really solid, reliable distance measuring device too. Yardages are returned instantly (thanks to the Pinsensor Technology), and accuracy was within 1 to 2 yards in our book. We had a couple of problems locking in flags, and ended up getting multiple readings occasionally. But nothing too major.

It’s very light and trim, although we do have some concerns over durability. That said, it comes in a case that is both robust, and also pretty cool (has a belt loop). The display is also crystal clear, which underpins how easy it is to use.

It didn’t quite fit in my hand as comfortably as I’d have liked, but such things come down to personal preference. All in all, it’s a decent rangefinder, at a more-than-decent price.

Best Prices and Discounts on Amazon

Here is a summary of the pros and cons.

PROS:
  • This is incredibly competitively priced. Game on!
  • Instant yardages, and, for the most part, accurate to within a yard
  • Very good range and zoom, and readings and images are always clear and sharp
  • Nice and light (185g) – a pocket-sized rangefinder if ever there was one

CONS:
  • Some issues locking in targets and flagsticks. Does sow a seed of doubt about accuracy
  • Shifted in my hands a bit. Worth testing to see how comfortable it is for you


Worthy Competitors

Bushnell Tour X Rangefinder

The Exchangeable Faceplate is the deal sealer. To have it either conforming for tournament play or non-conforming in social rounds offering the slope function, is brilliant – not to mention speedy.

Superb zoom of up to 6 X and the jolt effect felt when (or if) successfully locking your target is another positive. Slightly on the pricey side, but by no means not worthy of being value for money.

If you need a rangefinder that is compliant for tournament golf, but adjustable for social rounds then this one is for you!

For our full review of the Bushnell Tour X Rangefinder click here.

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Here is a summary of the pros and cons.

PROS:
  • The 6 X Zoom is brilliant and precise in distance to your target
  • The Exchangeable Faceplate provides the best of both worlds in a matter of seconds. Conforming to rules of golf for tournaments and non-conforming if or when needing slope function
  • The cover is sturdy and rigid enough to protect your rangefinder from falling out or being damaged yet also practical enough to retrieve your rangefinder quickly and simply

CONS:
  • Slightly heavier and larger than some of its competition, but really nothing to be turned off by
  • Occasionally the jolt function doesn’t actually work
  • A handful of times we needed to capture the target two or three times as the distance locked 1st time just didn’t seem 100%


Leupold GX-2i2 Rangefinder

When it comes to optics and precision, you know you’re in the best possible ball park with Leupold, and the GX-2i2, as expected, certainly doesn’t disappoint.

In short, Leupold seems to have cherry picked all the best and most important features of its family members, and piled it all into a solid, middle-of-the-range, er, rangefinder.

No prizes for guessing that value is this device’s main selling point, but focusing too much on this would be to do it a great disservice. The GX-2i2 encompasses just about all the virtues of the GX-4i2, yet costs up to $150 less. So, have they inadvertently stuck the 4i2 away? Let’s not be too hasty. But this rangefinder gets a firm stamp of approval from us, and we think many will see it the same way.

For our full review of the Leupold GX-2i2 Rangefinder click here.

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Here is a summary of the pros and cons.

PROS:
  • In terms of features, it’s a one stop shop. Slope, temperature, altitude, club recommendation – it’s all there
  • It’s compact, sleek and lightweight
  • All things considered, it’s really decent value
  • It’s accurate to – wait for it – 1/10th of a yard!

CONS:
  • We had a (tiny) bit of trouble with the distance display against dark backgrounds nitpicking


Precision Pro NX7 Rangefinder

This is a newcomer to the market, and although it isn’t a brand we’d associate with the top dogs, we were pleasantly surprised. For starters, it’s really nifty, slim and petite – but still big enough that it is easy to use.

What really impressed us was the accuracy of this rangefinder: it says it is to within a yard when you buy it, and our various on-course tests backed this up. The range is said to be 400 yards, although the Target Acquisition Technology is a bit ‘fumbly’ once you go past 200 yards.

That’s okay though, because it works a treat with lesser yardages. And there’s another figure of ‘200’ that you’ll find interesting – the price. That doesn’t necessarily make it the cheapest in the business. But it’s certainly at the right end of things! And for a rangefinder that does what it says on the tin, that’s about all you can ask for.

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Here is a summary of the pros and cons.

PROS:
  • Really accurate – to within a yard, if not better
  • Fits like a glove in your hand, real slim and comfy!
  • Turn on the power, aim, push power again for yardages, and off you go! It really is that easy
  • Price is pretty reasonable

CONS:
  • The battery door is a bit fiddly – you need to rotate it a few times to open and close


Callaway 300 Rangefinder

They’ve been one of the pioneers in driver technology, so who would have thought Callaway would dare traverse into becoming a thought leader in the field of laser rangefinders?

Well, that’s exactly what they’ve attempted to do with the Callaway 300, and we think they’ve done a pretty impressive job.

In collaboration with their partner IZZO, they’ve put together something here which ticks plenty of boxes for not a lot of money.

For our full review of the Callaway 300 Rangefinder click here.

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Here is a summary of the pros and cons.

PROS:
  • Classy design and ever-so light. A perfect fit for your bag
  • It’s down to $200 on Amazon, which for a quality laser is cheap as chips
  • It’s Pin Acquisition Technology is accurate – to within 1 yard in fact
  • It’s waterproof. And fogproof!

CONS:
  • Arguably a fraction of a second slower at locking targets than some others out there
  • If you need to have a dig, I’d say the casing could be sturdier. Knit-picking a bit though, isn’t it?


Lofthouse Proscope 400X Rangefinder

Lofthouse have been very crafty here in presenting a product that offers really good value. Really good!

It all comes down to what you’re looking for in a rangefinder. If it’s great features and gimmicks like slope adjustments and jolts, then this one comes up slightly bare. We’re also not entirely sold on the quality of the build. But you know what, for a model retailing at just over 150 bucks, it’s hard to argue with the value you’re getting here.

Its simplicity reflects in its ease of use with both modes (Golf Rangefinder and Common Rangefinder), it delivers reasonably accurate readings, has a range which is good enough and is very well streamlined in its design.

In short, it does its job perfectly well, and we’re convinced it’s the best option in the low-end price section of the shelf.

For our full review of the Lofthouse Proscope 400X Rangefinder click here.

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Here is a summary of the pros and cons.

PROS:
  • It’s a snip! Smashing the stereotype that rangefinders are only for the rich
  • The Pinseeker technology and Flag-Lock Display deliver fast, efficient measurements
  • Compact, ergonomic design which will fit into hand and pocket with ease
  • There’s no setup process at all – just fire up, and go

CONS:
  • When we took multiple readings, we found there to be a few yards variance
  • We’re slightly sceptical about the build of the body. Also, it’s only rain resistant


Nikon Coolshot 40i Rangefinder

When you think Nikon, you think lots of things. But rangefinders might not have been one of them until recently.

Then again, given their reputation in the field of photography, the leap across into this field probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise.

But, by virtue of being a newbie, they have a deficit in terms of a long-standing reputation in the wider golfing industry which other brands enjoy.

In terms of performance and flexibility when switching modes, we thought the Nikon 40i Coolshot held it’s own against competitors and was certainly better than its smaller brother the 20i.

One can’t knock it for not being lightweight either, but for us it didn’t feel as good in hand as other competitors in a similar price bracket, for example the Bushnell V4 Slope.

For our full review of the Nikon Coolshot Rangefinder click here.

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Here is a summary of the pros and cons.

PROS:
  • The flexibility of the different modes gives it a great competitive edge
  • It’s so light and sleek, yet tough as nails at the same time
  • It’s practical, and isn’t exclusively geared towards low handicappers
  • I still can’t believe you get all of the above for such a competitive price!

CONS:
  • Mmmmm…. Some might say the range could be greater. Personally not a major issue for us though


Callaway Micro Laser Rangefinder

Micro by name, micro by reputation. The word ‘compact’ is an understatement, as this is the rangefinder equivalent of a toddler! It really does epitomize how these devices have condensed over time. But size doesn’t matter, and all that…

The most important hurdle to clear for such a small piece of machinery is for it to function as easily as its bigger counterparts, and it does just that. The most significant shift from standardization is actually not size, but the way the sight is used. A red dot fits inside a bigger grey one to lock in your target, and the yardage then displays on the LCD screen, rather than within the viewfinder. It means you don’t need to nestle your eye right in there, and can actually take readings from a few inches away.

Such a gimmick does not come at the expense of accuracy though, which we found to be safely within a yard. It also locked in targets pretty easily (you can use either prism, laser or pin mode for this). And it’s all nice and easy to handle too.

So what’s the downside? Not a whole lot. The big question comes down to value. Bit of a judgment call really. This is a slick, stylish and accurate piece of merchandise. But it isn’t awash with high-end features either. So is it worth paying $250 to $300 for? If it helps, they do throw in a few free golf balls and a spare battery at least…

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Here is a summary of the pros and cons.

PROS:
  • It’s beautifully light and slender, yet still handles well
  • LCD display system is great – clear, clean and sharp
  • No difficulties operating this from start to finish. Quick readings, too
  • Very accurate, with ample range on all three modes

CONS:
  • Price seems a little heavy, given the lack of advanced features


Leupold GX-4i2 Rangefinder

First things first, the GX-4i2 is a tremendous piece of machinery. It’s hard not to absolutely sing the praises of this rangefinder’s outstanding features. It’s a golfer’s dream, and a caddy’s nightmare – it literally has everything you need and more.

But that old chestnut “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” couldn’t be truer for the Leupold GX-4i2.

Quite simply, it costs a small fortune.

For the serious player, or one who is looking to up their game, it may well be an investment worth making, and will undoubtedly help to improve your game. For the rest, well, we’d recommend holding fire, and perhaps considering the options above.

For our full review of the Leupold GX-4i2 Rangefinder click here.

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Here is a summary of the pros and cons.

PROS:
  • Slope, altitude, temperature and even a club recommendation. What more could you want?
  • The aluminium body, coupled with the red OLED readout, screams nothing but pure quality
  • It’s dead easy to use, and the PinHunter2 technology and prism lock are ace
  • It’s accurate to within half a yard, waterproof and grips like a dream. We could go on all day!

CONS:
  • It’s an awful lot of money. Deciding whether the spend will be vindicated is a very personal choice


GolfBuddy LR5 Rangefinder

When the GolfBuddy LR5 Laser first came out a couple of years ago, it retailed at about $250. You can now pick one up for as little $150, so it’s important to acknowledge that that is a good price.

And it definitely represents decent value for what is a pretty accurate and functional rangefinder – one which adds to the list of brands focused on making these devices more affordable. You might also be surprised to know that it has some handy little features too. We really liked flicking between the Scan and Pin modes in particular.

Couple of things: it does take a good few seconds to lock in the pins. We also used it on a very bright day, and the display wasn’t always that easy to decipher. And you can certainly feel the difference in design and build quality when compared with some of the bigger players.

But, then again, it doesn’t cost $300-plus. And it is a solid gadget, that very much does the job. We don’t doubt that there will be plenty of takers on this one, and rightly so.

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Here is a summary of the pros and cons.

PROS:
  • Very simple setup, and (perhaps surprisingly) accurate too
  • Some tidy features, especially Scan mode to pick up distances to various points
  • Can’t argue with the price – excellent value

CONS:
  • Had trouble locking in pins on quite a few occasions
  • Some issues with readings when there is a glare


Nikon Coolshot 20 Rangefinder

“How on earth did they fit everything in there?” Those were our first utterances when we saw the Nikon Coolshot 20, and we daresay yours will be fairly similar.

It’s breathtakingly, fantastically… tiny! And so light too. After finally collecting ourselves, and moving on from putting as big a tick in the size and weight box, we found this to be a very impressive rangefinder all round.

It doesn’t have any jaw-dropping features such as slope measurements about it, but it does what it says on the tin – it locks in accurate distances swiftly and easily; has a more-than-sufficient range, and all for a very good price. Some may argue that it’s so lightweight to the point of instability, and that’s down to personal preference.

We think that there’s plenty of grip to be had though, and that this rangefinder will appeal to players of all shapes, sizes and abilities.

For our full review of the Nikon Coolshot 20 Rangefinder click here.

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Here is a summary of the pros and cons.

PROS:
  • She’s so petite! We’d give it 11/10 for weight if we could
  • It’s trimness is superb too. This rangefinder will slide into your trouser or jacket pocket with ease and grace
  • It’s a very user-friendly device, and you’ll have no problems working it
  • At less than $200, it’s very competitively priced

CONS:
  • Because it is SO light, you need a pretty steady hand to use it. Could potentially be annoying in the wind
  • Seemed to take a while to pick up objects beyond 180(ish) yards


Key Purchasing Considerations

Remember the days of looking at the 150-yard marker, and then the 100-yard marker, and then making an educated estimate as to how far you had to the pin? Or having to rifle through the fineprint of the scorecard to establish whether measurements were to the front or the centre of the green?

Me neither.

Times have moved on swiftly since those mathematically-trying days, and rangefinders – particularly the laser variety – are fast shedding their skin as a luxury of the elite in favour of becoming an essential for those looking to shed shots from their score.

Things like slope-adjusting measurements, LCD Displays, accuracy to within a yard and contrasts to adapt to ambient light have gone from being mind boggling to perfectly standard in a short space of time, and what’s striking is that as the quality and list of features increase, the size (and sometimes the price tag too) of these devices continues to contract.

Here are the key considerations we considered in our best golf rangefinder guide.

1. Build Quality and Features

There is a certain minimum you expect with rangefinders these days in terms of build quality. Never mind the best of the best golf rangefinders. You can often tell from the look and, perhaps more so, the feel of a device as to its long-term durability. It’s also important that it can deal with wet weather effectively.

But what other features? A range of less than 500 yards is fast becoming unacceptable, but the big challenge over the years has been to make it easy to lock in the flag – and not just from close range either.

After all, it’s not always just about this shot; leaving yourself in the optimum position for your approach is vital. So being able to lock this in quickly, and from 250+ yards away is essential. The question is, what additional features will win us over?

That’s what we explore below.

2. Size and Weight

If you’ve got a rangefinder which is less than 5 inches long, 3 inches tall and weighs half a pound or less, you really are winning and likely have one of the best golf rangefinders available. The big challenge for designers and manufacturers alike is marrying durability with compactness. Some get it right; some don’t. For those who drive around in a cart, size and weight may not be the most vital criterion of all, but we live in a world where more for less is the ambition of any consumer.

So a sleek, trim and light device that fits nicely into the palm of your hand will always put it on the front foot in the eyes of any potential buyer, and it’s a box that shouldn’t be left unticked.

3. Ease of Use

It’s one thing to throw a bucket load of features at us. It’s quite another to make them easy to navigate, and to ensure that those less tech-savvy folks aren’t intimidated when they switch the rangefinder on.

Every rangefinder needs to do its fundamental job, which is to pick up distances quickly and accurately, make them easy to decipher, and to use it without having to think about anything more complex than your next shot.

4. Value for Money

We bang the drum on this one a lot, I know. But do not equate “cheap” with “value for money” under any circumstances! That’s not to preach the contrary either.
But value for money is about assessing what you need, what you want, and a what is a nice-to-have, and then weighing it all up against the price tag.

Obviously keeping it under $300 should be the initial aim.

Yet, particularly if you are a pro or talented amateur, your appetite for greater precision, range and other features is likely to be more. This could mean you need to dig a little deeper into your pockets than you might have initially planned.

But for the perfect rangefinder, it may well be worth it, and with such a vast variance in pricing in this sector, stymying yourself with an inflexible budget limit can sometimes work against you.

Rangefinder FAQs

What is a rangefinder?

Rangefinders, or distance-measuring devices, are instruments which enable you to focus on a specific target, and glean the precise distance. Although these can be used in many walks of life, many are geared specifically for golf courses, given their value and relevance to the game.

Rangefinders typically make use of two types of technology:

GPS: GPS rangefinders rely on satellite data to determine distances. They do so by locking in the longitude and latitude coordinates of both your position and a series of fixed targets, and calculate the distances in between. On a golf course, this usually means you can determine yardages to the front, middle and back of the green, while there is also usually scope to determine distances to other hazards or bunkers.

Laser rangefinders: The technology with laser rangefinders is altogether different, as the device emits pulses between position and target. Given that the velocity of these pulses is always constant, the device is able to calculate distances by virtue of the rebound time. And it all happens within the blink of an eye!

Are laser rangefinders better than GPS?

Ha, put us on the spot, why don’t you? Our personal opinion is yes, on balance. However, this comes with a MASSIVE caveat: it all comes down to personal preference.

As a rule of thumb, laser rangefinders tend to be more accurate. In fact, most decent devices on the market these days are accurate to within a yard. The other big plus is that they can be used anywhere.

The downside? They tend to cost more.

Conversely, GPS units tend to come in pretty cheap – often as little as 100 bucks. There is a myriad of free apps to go with them too. The other beauty of GPS devices is that they come in many different shapes or forms – you can pick up yardages on your phone, watch or even a hat clip, in addition to the standard handset. And you can supplement it all with a bunch of additional information and features, just to give you your statistical fill.

The downside(s)? They just aren’t as accurate. They also need the company/manufacturer to have mapped the course you’re playing on in order to use them. Additionally, they can be slightly more complex to set up/use.

What is the history of rangefinders?

Given that the game of golf is around seven centuries old, it’s fair to say that the history of golf rangefinders is a comparatively brief one. Laser technology itself has been around since the 1950s, used mostly by snipers. But Bushnell were the first to adapt the concept to golf, as they launched their first product way back in 1955, believe it or not.

Of course, it is only really in the last 15 years that rangefinders have soared to prominence, which gave Bushnell a heck of a head-start to establish themselves as the market leader. However, while they do command enormous share of voice, many brands have since come to the party to keep them on their toes – both existing golfing brands, and those from the wider world of optics.

Why do I need a rangefinder?

It is true that rangefinders will have varying value for different golfers, and the rule of thumb is that those with a more specific handle on how far they hit each club stand to gain more – given that they can get a more accurate distance than by relying on pacing it out manually from yardage markers.

But let’s not be too simplistic – for game improvers, rangefinders can still be very helpful, especially when it comes to distances to other features like hazards and bunkers. The bottom line is that there can be no downside to having an exact yardage. And many of the rangefinders on the market today have minimal margins for error – sometimes within inches!

Are there any drawbacks to buying a rangefinder?

Naturally, you as a buyer will need to reconcile the price tag with the value you think you will get out of it, and how much it will help your game. We’re not convinced by the “you’re not good enough to have a rangefinder” argument. For starters, some low-handicap golfers are “feel” players who seldom rely on distances anyway, while game improvers can really boost their game by being dialled into specific yardages – both to targets and surrounding features.

That said, it is true that better players are more likely to get the most out of a rangefinder as a basic rule of thumb. But it’s no more than that!

The other downside to rangefinders is that they can slow down play. Think about the process: fetch rangefinder from bag, spending time focusing on targets, comparing with yardages on the course, putting rangefinder back in bag, start pre-shot routine – you get the idea! But, with a bit of efficiency and planning before each shot, this need not be a problem for you.

Are rangefinders legal to use?

You’ve probably wondered why you never see pros using rangefinders on the course if they’re so amazing. That’s because the PGA Tour does not allow them to be used in professional tournament play. They do, however, allow players to use them on practice days in the lead up to events, while they have also allowed them to be trialled in some Web.com and Canadian Tour events in 2017.

Some USGA events do not permit the use of rangefinders, while golf courses also have the right to make a local rule which bans them.

But, realistically, none of that is likely to be a problem for you if you are an amateur. So you can buy one, if it is your will, with peace of mind, and start closing the gap to the pros!

Which are the leading rangefinder brands?

Bushnell – boasts 99 per cent of PGA Tour players as customers. Unquestionably a market leader in its field.
Callaway – a recent edition to the rangefinder game, but certainly making headway, leveraging off its well-established golfing brand.
Leupold – has its origins in outdoor optics, but has expanded into golf in recent years.
Lofthouse – not renowned for excessive gimmicks and features, but Lofthouse have built a solid reputation – their rangefinders do what they say on the box.
Nikon – a powerhouse in the world of optics! Golf was always likely to be a natural fit.
TecTecTec – a relative newcomer to the rangefinder game, but definitely some appealing products at entry-level prices.

Is slope calibration a good idea?

Slope calibration technology is fantastic, especially if you play on undulating courses a lot. The accuracy of slope tech has been called into question, but, having trialled some of the better ones, we definitely think it’s a force for good.

The biggest issue with it has been legality, notably during tournament play under USGA rules. However, the USGA recently clarified the rules on slope technology, whereby you can use a slope-tech rangefinder in tournament play, as long as the actual slope tech is turned off. And we’d bet money that the rules will become even more accommodating in the not-too-distant future.

So, really, if the slope tech tickles your fancy, and you aren’t a regular tournament player, rules aren’t really a blocker to buying a rangefinder which makes use of it.

What tips would you give when getting started with a rangefinder?

What, you mean other than reading our reviews? Ha, just kidding. Here are some things to do to help yourself get set up, and to get the most out of your new rangefinder:

Watch videos – What better way to get to grips with your new device than to see it in action? Even though we test them all ourselves, we like to see other examples of people using rangefinders, how it worked for them, and their thoughts on the setup. You should too! But be sure to choose videos from a well-established reviewer or website. The number of views, or the website’s domain authority, should help you separate the good from the bad.

Read the instructions – Always a natural starting point! But it isn’t just about setting yourself up with the basic fundamentals. You’ll want to get the most out of the features, and everything else the rangefinder has to offer. Hidden (hopefully not too deep) in the instructions, should lie the answers.

Use the tech cleverly – Pinseeker? Pinhunter? First target Priority? They all mean the same thing – these are the technologies which brands use to determine distances to flags, and all features in front and behind them. Using them is easy enough, but here’s a little trick (if you don’t have slope tech): Aim your rangefinder at the ground first, and engage the ranging button. You’ll see the reticle on the display. Then aim direct at your target and hit the button. This eliminates the chance of being obstructed/interfered with by hills, bunkers or hazards that may obscure your target, which in turn reduces margin for error.

Practice on shorter distances – Start by using your rangefinder with shorter distances, and aim for flags. They’re easier to lock into, and will help you get the hang of things quicker and easier. Build yourself up from there, and you’ll be an expert in no time.

Cross reference – Even if you think you are an expert, it’s still a good idea to have a look at the physical yardages on the course, just as a reference. Having that extra reaffirmation as you address the ball will only fill you with more confidence, which has to be a good thing.

Is there room for improvement with rangefinders?

In a world of AI, and exponential technological growth and development, we’d never say never. But, with slope technology, accuracy to within inches, 7X zoom, jolts and so many other wonderful gimmicks and features, it does feel as though we are approaching the plateau. I guess existing technologies can always be fine tuned and enhanced for accuracy. But it will need something really innovative and ‘out the box’ to take things to the next level. Bring it on…

Tags

Best Golf Rangefinder, Best Golf Rangefinder 2016, Best Golf Rangefinder 2017, Best Rangefinder for Golf

Mike fell in love with the game from a very early age – a passion that hasn’t diminished ever since. He earned provincial colors throughout his junior years, but by the time he reached Varsity, the realization set in (thanks largely to some cold ales) that it was time to favor the pen rather than his clubs. He now writes for GA along with a few other sources.

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