Golf GPS vs Rangefinder – Which one is right for you?

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Golf is arguably one of the most sophisticated and most highly competitive precision sports in the world today. Whether you’re a professional golfer aspiring to be on the same level with the likes of Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy, or an amateur working to lower your handicap, it always helps to have the advantage against the competition.

In today’s modern age, golfers are slowly starting to see the advantages of using golf GPS and laser rangefinder technology in order to further improve their game.

Gone were the days when you are guessing the distances of the greens and slopes. You don't have to search for sprinkler heads or a 150- yard stone. With a rangefinder or GPS software measuring, the distance to the pin is much easier. It saves you time on the golf course.

Golf GPS

There are different types of golf GPS, GPS watches, and handheld devices or smartphone apps. Although handheld devices are also popular, most golfers chose GPS watches as the alternative for a golf rangefinder. Most of the golf watches in the market offer a customizable feature. It can be worn every day and has a long battery life, so you want to have to worry about charging it always.

A golf GPS watch can help you with your shots and avoids hazards. There are golf GPS watches that have a colored screen and provides full hole imagery. It can tell you the front, middle and back distances. It is like a real-time course map showing you your location and the distance of the target. When worn on the golf course, it is easy to glance on GPS watch to see the distance of the front, middle, and back of the green. Some GPS watches have a golf clubs' recommendation feature.

As for the handheld GPS units, it provides a larger screen and hole view from above. Some golfers prefer handheld GPS as it gives them a view of the middle of the green. A more expensive handheld GPS device has more courses and has a more detailed map.

Golf Rangefinder

For those in search of more precision when it comes to distance to the flag, a laser device is a great option. Rangefinders also offer a lot of features that are very helpful in providing accurate readings. Unlike the golf watch, some rangefinder has a slope feature that can give accurate readings for uphill or downhill shot. The drawback for golf rangefinders is when there is a hazard, or when you can't see the flag, it's hard to lock the target.


This is the combination of both worlds. It is where the rangefinder and the golf GPS are built in one device. It has everything that you need in one product. You can see three yardages as well as show you the hazard distances. It can show you the distance from the front, back, and center. If you want to have complete course management, then a hybrid is just the one you are looking for.

The drawback of this device is the cost and the ease of navigation. Most hybrids are expensive. And because it combines the ability of the rangefinder and GPS, other golfers have difficulty managing it in the course. Hybrids are pack with a lot of data, so you need to understand and be proficient in using it, or else it will delay up your decision and take you more time on the course.

When it comes to accuracy, hybrids top it. It's like you have a list sheet with you that enables you to measure the distance from the pinpoint to the hole. Golf is also a game of course management. With the help of a hybrid rangefinder, you can manage the course that affecting your game positively.

Laser Rangefinders vs GPS Devices

Over the past few years, golf GPS has used global positioning satellites to help golfers measure distances and improve shot accuracy. Being able to know how far the green is relative to your location eliminates the need to check maps, look for markers, or engage in other time-consuming information gathering techniques.

However, golf GPS devices are not always the most reliable means of measuring distances. Poor reception of GPS signals due to several factors such as location or exposure to unfavorable weather conditions can result in significant inaccuracies.

golf gps reviews


Fortunately, the emergence of laser rangefinder technology has allowed for greater accuracy when you need to know the distances. Unlike most golf GPS devices that can only give you a rough measurement of the distance between you and the next hole or water hazard, laser rangefinder uses a reflected laser beam in order to measure the precise distance. The more accurate your data is, the easier it will be for you to refine your game.

Just think of how great an advantage it would be for your golf game if you knew exactly how far you were from the pin, a bunker, or a treeline just left of the tee. You finally get to have an answer to one of the sport’s most important questions: “How far is it?” With enough practice and the right technique, you will be cutting strokes off of your handicap in no time.

Both GPS and rangefinders are helpful to people that are playing even in a not-so-good condition to be able to see how many yards away from the target.

Ease Of Use

Most golfers have also found using laser golf rangefinders to be very convenient. Before you tee off, you can simply whip out your laser rangefinder, aim, and get a good read on your target. You won’t have to go online and download the coordinate file for a course or worse, map it out manually before you even play your first round.

You also need to consider that not all golf courses have GPS maps available for all units. Not having to worry about downloading coordinate files in advance allows you to focus on your game and nothing else. This is especially helpful for individuals who feel that they do better with a golf club than they do with a mouse or a computer keyboard.

Value For Money

Another benefit to using laser rangefinders is the fact that they generally cost less than most GPS devices. While the cost of the unit itself varies for both devices depending on the make and model, or in the case of laser rangefinders, whether you go for a monocular or binocular unit, golf GPS devices tend to cost more money in the long run because some systems will require you to sign up for a paid annual subscription so that you can download the latest course maps or coordinate files onto your device.

But no matter how many maps or coordinate files you have on your golf GPS watch, the fact is, it still has limits. Because you will not need maps in order to operate a laser rangefinder, you can use it on as many holes and golf courses as you can possibly play on. If you want to choose the best golf laser rangefinder for the money, read on our Bushnell Tour V3 Review.

Bushnell Tour V3 Golf Laser Rangefinder 4

While not everyone believes that their golf game needs a bit of improvement, laser rangefinders are here to stay. Whether you prefer a monocular or binocular design, there is little doubt that laser rangefinders can only work towards improving your game. With the advantages of being able to deliver pinpoint accuracy, convenience, ease of use, and affordability, laser range finders have indeed changed the game for both amateur and professional golfers.

You might not be the best golfer on the course now, but if you stay with it, put in the work, and have a little help from your trusty laser rangefinder, you will be well on your way to raising your golf game to the next level.

Best Brands for Golf GPS

For Golf GPS, the most popular brands are:


When it comes to GPS watch, the Garmin comes at the top of the list. It has a variety of GPS watches in the market that can match each player's profile. It offers many features like stat tracking, covers worldwide golf courses, and offers free updates. It is also very convenient to use this as you can still read the date on your golf watch even if you are under the sun.


Golfers would be more delighted with SkyCaddie golf GPS watches are one of the most incredible golf watches in the market. It has a colored screen and usually has a high resolution. This GPS watch gives you an overview of the course as well. The golf watches of Skycaddie are true of great value because of their outstanding features.

Best Brand for Rangefinder

With different golf brands in the market, we pick the 3 best brands in the market for you. This brand may not be new to you, as they are often the most popular brand by most players.

Bushnell Rangefinders

This brand is one of the most popular rangefinders in the golfing community. It is the best golf laser range finder, and the majority of golfers love Bushnell's rangefinder. With JOLT technology, you know that you already locked on the flag because of the red ring that flashes as it vibrates.

Nikon Coolshot Rangefinders

Nikon Coolshot is one of the best brands in the market when it comes to rangefinders. Nikon continues to innovate its range capabilities. It is also compact and very friendly. However, like the other rangefinder, the drawback of Nikon Coolshot is, it can't give you the distance to the front or middle of the green.

Leupold Rangefinders

Leupold also offers great rangefinders. Leupold used this cutting-edge DNA (Digitally Enhanced Accuracy) with their rangefinders. It is durable and has long battery life, and accurate.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I use both in competition?

Rangefinders and GPS can be used for most tournaments. However, for a rangefinder, the one that has a slope feature is illegal. A golf rangefinder with a slope helps golfers to know the is the elevation of the green. For the sake of fairness during the game, this type of rangefinder is prohibited.

Before joining any competition or tournament, be sure to check its requirements to make sure that you are abiding by the rules.

Can I have both in my golf bag?

If money for you is not an issue, you can buy both of them. Each has its own strength and weakness that can be useful in any situation that you might be in. You can get yardages and get course information with this thing.

The thing with rangefinders is, it would be a challenge for people with shaky hands to lock the target. Laser range finders need steady hands.

However, don't forget that manufacturers also now offer the market hybrid rangefinders with golf GPS features. Bushnell brand is a great example. It has a product that combined both laser rangefinder and golf GPS in one package.


So, rangefinder vs. GPS? Which one is the best? Deciding whether pick a GPS or rangefinder is a matter of personal preference. Both have their own advantage and disadvantage. Make sure to choose the one that is easy to use and more convenient for you as a golfer. We already provided you the GPS and rangefinders pros and cons above, so we hope you have clarity on what is best suited for you.

Denny Putsh
Denny Putsh

I’m a golf enthusiast just like you and have been playing the game since I was 12 years old. Although I love watching the PGA Tour and following my favorite stars on tour I’m also fascinated by all of the unique and innovative products that are associated with the game I love. It's my greatest joy to share my fascination with golf gadgets, equipment, training aids, and golf accessories with fellow golf lovers on all levels.


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