Golf Laser Rangefinders – How They Work, Special Features and Pro’s & Con’s

Golf laser rangefinders are increasingly used by golf lovers these days. And for good reason – they are awesome at accurately giving distances.

Knowing the yardages to certain targets gives a golfer a distinct advantage when it comes to making the right decision on club selection. When golf first begun, golfers relied on different ways to determine the distance from their golf ball to the flag stick or some other point on the golf course. Often trees, bushes, plates sunk into the ground, sprinklers heads with yardages marked on them etc. were used to get a reading on distance.

Now, with the addition of golf laser rangefinders, golfers can find the distances to any target as long as there is a straight line of sight between the rangefinder and the target.

Today rangefinders are popularly used by golf professionals and their caddies as well as by amateurs – from beginners to more advanced golfers.

In this article we look at how a rangefinder works, the features of a rangefinder and some of the pros and cons.

You can see our list of the Best Golf Rangefinders here.

How does a golf rangefinder work?

Golf laser rangefinders use a Class 1 eye-safe invisible laser beam to bounce a beam of light off a distant object. The high-speed digital clock that’s in the rangefinder measures the time it takes for the laser beam to hit the target and return to the unit.

Next, the advanced electronics in the rangefinder will instantly calculate the distance within 1 yard +/- and then will show in either yards or meters the distance through the lens LCD display. The amount of time it takes to press the button that generates the laser, to the time it takes to hit the target and return, is often less than 1 second.

In order to take a measurement, their range is partially determined by the reflectivity of the target. Targets that are categorized as hard are very reflective such as rocks or trucks, and targets which are categorized as soft like flags are less reflective and are harder for the device to give an accurate reading.

Moderately reflective targets, such as trees, fall somewhere in the middle. Small targets, such as flags, are by definition difficult to target.

Rangefinder Features

PinSeeker Technology

PinSeeker Technology has eliminated the problem with soft targets that are not very reflective, for example the golf flagstick. The PinSeeker technology allows the golfer to focus the device on the pin, and ignore objects in the foreground and background. Here’s how it works.

Slope Function

The slope function on a rangefinder is a great new addition. As you can appreciate a target that is above you will appear closer than it actually is due to the incline slope towards it. The same is true for a target below one. Slope functionality takes the slope of the angle from the rangefinder to the target into account and can therefore provide a more accurate reading on distance. Here’s the effervescent Mark Crossfield explaining how slope function works.

Jolt Function

The jolt function on a rangefinder helps with the issue of stabilising the device to get an accurate reading. The jolt lets you know that you have locked onto the target for a reading. It is a great features that instills a sense of confidence and trust in the device’s measurement.

Advantages Of Golf Laser Rangefinders

There are some many great advantages of a golf rangefinder. But here are just a few:

  • Most good quality rangefinders give almost exact measurements within +/- 1 yard at a distance of up to 250 yards.
  • Looking through the eye-piece is like looking through a pair of binoculars that magnifies the target to give a better look at what may lie ahead that the human eye might not see.
  • Battery life on laser rangefinders are typically long as the unit is only used when it is taking a reading.

Disadvantages of Golf Laser Rangefinders

  • There is no easy way to take a measurement to the front, center or back of the green, unless of course there is a target to focus on.
  • There is no way to know where the flag sits on the green.
  • Some lasers require a steady hand in order for the unit to pickup the designated target.
  • The farther away the target is, the more chances for getting an inaccurate reading because the unit is not picking up the target your aiming at.
  • If you’re in a situation where there is no line of sight to your target, the laser is useless. There must be a clear view of the target in order to get a reading.

Golf Laser Rangefinders Will Lower Your Scores

The  purchase of golf rangefinders has exploded over the past couple of years. Companies such as Nikon, Bushnell and others that are involved in the field of optics continue to introduce products that give golfers the ability to make better decisions on the course which improve handicaps and lower scores.

Bushnell is one maker that’s used by more than 95% of professionals on the tour today. Golfers and their caddies use these devices to take readings in practice rounds that will help them in tournament rounds. Not only will these units help lower your scores, they will also improve the pace of play which will give golfers a more pleasurable round.

Today, golfers will buy just about anything that will help them when it comes to the game of golf. But, if you are really serious about improving your handicap and lowering your scores, then you might want to consider adding a golf laser rangefinder to your arsenal. It would be a good practice to watch out for a good golf rangefinder review before buying one.

Here are a few to get you started:

Bushnell Tour X Golf Rangefinder Review
Leupold Gx-4i2 Rangefinder Review
Bushnell Pro X7 Jolt Slope Rangefinder Review
Nikon ProStaff 3 Laser Rangefinder Review
Bushnell Tour V4 Rangefinder Review
Callaway 300 Laser Rangefinder Review

Hi, I'm Tom! I run the show here at the #GGFB. Golf is my absolute passion and given the choice I would be on the course all the time. Alas, my day job and lovely wife help moderate my enthusiasm for the game. I hope you have a blast browsing the site and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to drop me a line. Current handicap: 12!