If you’ve ever been forced to play a round of golf without any way of knowing how far away you are from the flag or a hazard, you’ll know just how important it is to have a golf range finder. Playing without one is essentially adding a couple of extra strokes to your card before you even tee off.
For that reason, a golf range finder can be just as beneficial to your game as a good set of clubs, or the right balls. It will help you zero in more accurately on your target, and get the ball closer to where you want it to go. The best golf range finder can be hard to find, but if you do the appropriate research you’ll end up with something that will really help to improve your game.
The Problem with Using Distance Markers
Most courses will have distance markers every 50 yards, and of course a few sprinkler heads, but these just don’t perform the role to an adequate level. You’ll spend half your round wondering if the sprinkler heads are measuring the distance to the front or the middle of the green; if it’s the middle, how far past that is the flag?
These extra calculations almost end up adding even more confusion, and can result in that terribly frustrating feeling of flushing a 7-iron straight at the pin, only to see it roll over the back of the green because you selected the wrong club.
As every player knows, golf is a game of inches. The difference between a good approach shot and a resultant birdie, and an approach that trickles off the green and sees you walk away with a double bogey, is often only a yard or so, if that.
That fact alone justifies why you need to know exactly how far your shot needs to travel in order to get the best out of your ability. If you know it’s roughly 110-120 yards to the pin, it’s better than knowing nothing, but it can still easily result in you hitting the wrong club.
The Benefits of a Golf Range Finder
A good golf range finder eliminates this problem. You’ll know exactly how far it is for every approach shot to the green, and will even be able to determine distances to other locations such as bunkers, dog legs and water hazards to help you out with your tee shots and layups. This video provides some valuable insight into how golf range finders work, and how they can help you out on the course.
Of course, not all golf range finders are created equal, so it’s important to do the relevant research to ensure you end up with one which will actively help your game. The best of these products will enable you to confidently pull a club out of your bag, safe in the knowledge that you know the exact distance you need to hit your next shot.
What Differentiates Different Golf Range Finders?
The major factor which differentiates a good golf range finder from a bad one is, unsurprisingly, accuracy. The best of the best will give you complete confidence that you know your distances, but some of the lower quality ones can seem a little inconsistent in their estimations.
Using a golf range finder which gives you the wrong distances is even worse than not having one at all, and is a sure fire way to cause you to hit the wrong club, so ensuring you purchase one which will give you the right distances is imperative.
Ease of use is another thing which can vary significantly between different range finders. The best ones on the market will easily latch onto the flag or whatever target you’re aiming for, ensuring you find the exact distance quickly.
Some can also zoom in to make it even easier, while an array of other features separate the best from the rest. In contrast, some of the lower quality ones make it extremely hard to catch the flag, and you might end up accidentally determining the distance to a tree behind the green or something similar. Evidently, this is not ideal, and you’d be better off without a range finder at all.
Problems with Golf Range Finders
Not everybody is completely on board with golf range finders. Some question the validity of their measurements, while others think the concept in itself is flawed.
For example, many people think high handicap players don’t need them, as they aren’t likely to consistently hit clubs the same distance anyway, while others argue it’s more important to know the distance to the front and back of the green rather than the pin itself.
These arguments have some merit, but it is still far better to have one than to not. For high handicappers, trying to use the same club for similar distance shots can be a great way to develop more consistency in ball striking.
As for the argument about the front and the back of the green, it’s certainly true that this is worth knowing, but why not determine these distances in conjunction with the distance to the pin? Put simply, it’s a vast improvement on the alternative, which makes these products well and truly worth purchasing.
Who should use a Golf Range Finder?
Basically, anyone who is going to get decent use out of it. If you only get out on the course once or twice a year it might not be worth it, but anybody who plays relatively regularly will benefit from a golf range finder. As long as you have a set of clubs, a bit of spare cash, and a desire to cut a few strokes off your score, you’re a suitable candidate for one of these products. Below, we’ve created a list of some of the most popular range finders.
Best Golf RangeFinder Reviews
1. Bushnell Pro X7 Jolt Slope RangeFinder
The Bushnell Pro X7 Jolt Slope Range Finder is generally held in very high regard, and this is for good reason. It’s one of the more advanced models of its kind, and comes with an array of handy features.
It’s easy to use, with strong contrasts in colours making it easy for you to pinpoint your target and analyse the contours of the hole. It also zooms in significantly, further nullifying the difficulties which are present with some other range finders in actually finding the pin.
Another great feature which you won’t find in every model is the slope technology. This technology recognises the incline or decline involved in your upcoming shot, and provides a compensated distance. For example, if you’re 110 yards from the pin but hitting significantly uphill, the compensated distance may be closer to 120 yards.
2. Bushnell Tour V4 Patriot Pack RangeFinder
This is another Bushnell Range finder, though it might be regarded as the little cousin of the Pro X7 reviewed above. This range finder certainly doesn’t have the level of advanced technology that the Pro X7 does, but it’s still a very good product, and comes in a fair bit cheaper.
It’s accurate, works over long distances, and makes it relatively easy to lock onto a target. It has a 2-year warranty, which, at least for me, always provides some good peace of mind, and comes with a carry case to keep it away from the weather.
3. Precision Pro Golf NX7 RangeFinder
The NX7 by Precision Pro Golf is a great mid-range, value range finder. It has a number of excellent features and generally offers high functionality, but maintains a price which is affordable for most players.
Like with the above products, this range finder has an ability to adjust for slopes, providing a literal distance to a point as well as a ‘play as’ distance. This is something I find particularly useful, as a lot of the courses I play on are relatively hilly.
It also comes with a 2-year warranty, replacement batteries, and an ability to trade it in. I personally can’t imagine that many people would feel the need to trade it in, but if you do, it’s good to know that the option is there.
4. Nikon Coolshot 20 Golf RangeFinder
This is a little bit of a cheaper alternative to some of the above suggestions, meaning it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles some of its more expensive competitors can lay claim to. This doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be considered though, and I’ve used this one to great effect in the past.
The feature which I found the most useful with this product was the First Target Priority Mode. This feature ensures the range finder finds the distance to the object which you initially targeted, meaning if you zero in on the flag, only to have your hands shake a little, it won’t impact the target that the Coolshot 20 finds the distance to.
Another major difference between the Nikon Coolshot 20 and its competitors is its size. This is a particularly small range finder, which can be a good or a bad thing. Many will enjoy the ease with which it can be stored, while others prefer a larger product because it can be easier to hold
5. Bushnell Pro X2 (Best Golf RangeFinder)
Of all the Bushnell range finders, this is arguably the best value of them all. It comes in a lot cheaper than, for example, the Bushnell Pro X7, though having said that it’ll still cost you more than many of the other products on this list.
For the price though, you get plenty of features. It comes with slope measurements, extreme clarity, and makes it easy to locate the target. On top of that, you’re able to toggle between red and black backgrounds, which can be useful for when you’re playing in changing light
Golf range finders can make a huge difference to your game. They make it far easier to analyse the hole, understand the hazards around you, and ultimately choose the right club. There are plenty of them out there, and while many will be a valuable on-course companion, the pick of the bunch is the Bushnell Pro X2.
The most outstanding feature of this range finder is its accuracy. It is renowned for being consistently correct down to the nearest yard, and as a result it will help you hit more balls closer to the hole.
The slope technology is another feature which will help you do this, while the long-range scope enables you to pick out targets even at the other end of a long par 5. The features and benefits of this range finder are as good as any of the others listed, and while the Bushnell Pro X7 Jolt Technology Range finder offers similarly useful components, the Pro X2 comes in at a fraction of the cost.
With the Bushnell Pro X2, you’ll find it easier to select the right club, meaning if you strike the ball as you intend to, you’ll probably put it pretty close. This can genuinely take numerous strokes off your score every round, making it every bit as valuable as a caddy that you can zip up in your golf bag.