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How Golf Rangefinders Work: A Quick and Simple Guide

How Golf Rangefinders Work: A Quick and Simple Guide

If you’re new to golf, you may not know how to operate a rangefinder.

I didn’t even know what a rangefinder was when I first started playing golf. I thought the gentleman I was pairing with was looking through binoculars throughout the round!

This guide will explain the difference between a rangefinder and a rangefinder, as well as how they work. I’ll also let you know which rangefinder I use and recommend to help improve your accuracy on approach shots into the green.


Table of Contents

  • How a Golf Rangefinder Works
  • Are Rangefinders Accurate?
  • Which Is Better – A Golf GPS or Rangefinder?

How a Golf Rangefinder Works

To find the exact distance to their target, golfers use rangefinders. Rangefinders are most commonly used to determine the distance to the pin.

Here are some highlights about how a rangefinder functions:

  • One eye can see the rangefinder
  • Click the button to increase the magnification or zero in on the target area (flags and bunkers, water hazards etc.).
  • The button emits a laser beam that locks on the object you are pointing at
  • The rangefinder will calculate the yardage by measuring the time it takes for the laser beam to reach your target. This is then sent back to you.
  • The device will show you the yardage to your target.

Another helpful feature that some rangefinders have is called “Slope Mode”. This function, which is named after the slope mode, tells you how much the green has changed in elevation and factors that into your overall distance. This function can be a huge advantage for golfers and can allow them to calculate accurate distances on their approach shots.


Are Rangefinders Accurate?

Yes, rangefinders for golf are very accurate. Most brands are accurate to within one-yard of the actual distance. This accuracy gives golfers an additional boost of confidence when choosing which club to hit.

How much yardage can you measure using a rangefinder Most brands offer pinpoint accuracy up to 500 yards. That means you can trust a rangefinder’s accuracy from the tee on every hole on the golf course.

However, laser rangefinders aren’t perfect, and certain circumstances can lead to a decrease in accuracy. Rain and fog can affect the laser beam of the rangefinder. Keep this in mind if your golf is taking place in extreme weather conditions.


Which Is Better – A Golf GPS or Rangefinder?

While playing on the course, both rangefinders or GPS devices can be useful tools. Both devices can measure slopes and provide accurate readings. Both devices are easy to use and offer a high level durability.

So which one is better? The answer will vary for each golfer. Let’s examine which device is better based on what category is most important to you.


If you want to save money, a GPS device is the best option. Many golf GPS phone apps can be downloaded at no cost. These apps use satellites to show you the layout of each hole on the course.

Golf GPS watches can be affordable even for those with tight budgets. They are affordable at as low as $90, and usually last for 12 hours before you need to recharge the battery.

A laser rangefinder works quite well, but they’re usually more expensive than golf GPS devices. The cheapest models cost between $150 and $200.


If it’s premium accuracy that you are after, you can’t go wrong with optical rangefinders. These rangefinders are more accurate than GPS devices, and can provide the right yardage faster. The slope technology option on a rangefinder can be more accurate than a GPS golf watch.

What is the accuracy of a rangefinder? Remember that most rangefinders can be accurate within one yard. Most GPS golf devices only have a range of four yards.

For the average golfer, this accuracy difference won’t matter much. High handicappers and mid-level handicappers will use the same club, regardless of whether a shot is at 80 yards or 84 yards. Advanced golfers may use a different wedge.

It’s easy to use

This attribute, as with many others, is a matter of personal preference. Rangefinders as well as GPS devices for golf can be used on the course in a relatively simple manner.

The rangefinder is preferred by some golfers because of the autofocus camera, which makes it easy for them to aim at their targets. People with weak hands may find it difficult to hold their targets steady enough.

People also enjoy the convenience of a GPS golf watch. They like the fact that they don’t have to focus on a target and can simply look at their wrists to determine the yardage.

The Rangefinder I Recommend and Use

The Bushnell Tour V4 rangefinder is a great choice. It’s been one of Bushnell’s most popular rangefinders over the last six years. It’s even legal for tournament play as long as the slope mode is turned off.

Bushnell Golf Tour V4 Slope Laser Rangefinder

Bushnell Golf Tour V4 Slope Laser Rangefinder

Pin seeker with Jolt Technology gives you short Vibrating bursts that reinforce the laser laced onto your flag. Patented slope technology provides compensated distance based upon the slope or decline in the hole. Accuracy: From 5 to 1,000 yards and 400+ yard to a flag within one mile.

Amazon: Shop for it

Bushnell is the king when it comes to rangefinders! Here are some benefits of the Bushnell Tour V4.

  • Amazing Accuracy: You’ll have more confidence in your club selection because it’s always accurate to within one yard.
  • Long battery life: I’ve been using the Tour V4 for over a year and a half, and the battery is still going strong.
  • Pinpoint Slope Calculation You’ll know the exact degrees of slope and just how much it will affect your shots. This is especially useful if you have to shoot uphill or downhill, and especially if there are obstacles such as water hazards.
  • Jolt Technology:This is the most amazing feature. The Tour V4 will vibrate lightly when you are locked on to your target. You can now be certain that you are in the right spot.
  • Fast Focus SystemThe Tour V4 rangefinder lens work quickly to provide the correct yardage. If the signal strength or weather conditions are poor, some Golf GPS devices may lag. That won’t happen with the Tour V4.
  • Ideal Size The Tour V4 isn’t too big or too small. It can be carried in your palm. It’s also lightweight, which means you shouldn’t have a problem zeroing in on your target.
  • Warranty:Bushnell guarantees the quality of its products. Bushnell offers rangefinders with a 2-year warranty.
  • Water Resistant Unlike some other rangefinders, the Tour V4’s performance isn’t affected by rain. The device is water-resistant and will still give accurate readings even in light drizzle. Just to be on the safe side, though, I don’t use it during any type of heavy rain.

I can’t say enough good things about the Bushnell Tour V4. Bushnell has changed my mind about rangefinders. I used to believe they were overpriced and overrated.

I can’t imagine playing a single round of golf without it in my bag. If you decide to give the Tour V4 a shot, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.