Golf Laser Rangefinder – Buyers Guide

in Laser Rangefinders

Golf Laser Rangefinders - Buyers Guide

Basic Function

Golf laser rangefinders emit pulses of infra-red laser light directed at a target. The reflected pulses are captured by a receiving lens. By measuring the transmission-reception time of these pulses, the rangefinder computes the target distance.

Several inherent factors affect the range and reliability of laser golf rangefinders. Pulse strength is limited to prevent damage to eyes. Other limiting factors are the optical quality, circuitry and the software controlling the device. Since laser rangefinders rely on a reflected beam to make measurements, the target’s reflective qualities will have an impact on range. Reflective surfaces such as water or sand can be measured at greater distances than flags.

Dependent on the model, distances to flags can be effectively measured from 250-400 yards, while total range varies up to a maximum of about 1000 yards. Laser rangefinders generally perform well in all conditions, though are perhaps at their best in dim light. They may prove to be less effective in bright sunshine, while rain and fog will also affect performance.

Laser v GPS Rangefinders

A Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) rangefinder relies on satellite technology to determine position within a few yards, but is generally not as useful as a laser rangefinder. Hand-held golf GPS rangefinders are heavily reliant on an accurate course map in order to determine distances. Such mapping is difficult and expensive to do properly, while the number of courses is huge.

Some GPS devices incorporate software allowing the user to map a course themselves. However, mapping all course locations accurately is a nigh impossible task. Furthermore, GPS units are generally only accurate to within 5-15 yards. This equates to a full club distance, casting doubt on club selection.

Finally, a GPS rangefinder offers no assistance at all on the driving range. Laser golf rangefinders have the advantage that they can determine the distance to any point that is visible. Along with effectively determining distances on the course, golf laser rangefinders are extremely useful in practice, especially for determining how far a player hits a particular club.

Bushnell Laser Rangefinders

Bushnell laser range finders are undoubtedly the most popular brand in the UK (and World for that matter), with models ranging from £135 up to £290.

Nikon Laser Rangefinders

Nikon laser range finders are newer to the golf market than Bushnell. However, as you’d expect from a premium player in the optics field they make high quality range finders.

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Longridge Laser Rangefinders

This unit doesn’t have the pedigree or features of a Bushnell or Nikon but nevertheless is a good entry level laser for the money.

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Best Buy

If you’re looking for an entry level golf-laser then the Longridge Pin Point Laser Rangefinder is good value. Legal for tournament play and handicapping, this rangefinder can measure yardages out to 600yards very accurately.

However, the most popular Bushnell laser rangefinder is the Bushnell Pinseeker Tour V2 Laser Rangefinder which is also legal for tournament play. It’s accurate to within a yard from up to 1000 yards and will range directly to the flag from 300 yards and trees from 700 yards. Reviewers consistently rate it as excellent value for money and comment on it’s ease of use.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Gordon Steen March 22, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Very surprised that you only mention Bushnell Rangefinders and do not mention Nikon whose optics are far clearer than the Bushnell range.

Callaway golf have endorced the Nikon Brand in the USA whic speaks for itself.

Your comments would be welcome

Neil March 23, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Hi Gordon,
Thanks for your comment. This article has been written with the UK golfer in mind and therefore we’ve targeted the Laser Rangefinders that are widely available in the UK – at the moment this is primarily Bushell’s. BTW they’re no slouchs when it comes to golf laser rangefinders!

However, I agree, a Nikon golf rangefinder sounds like a very exciting prospect for UK golfers. Given the quality and pedigree of the Nikon brand, I’m sure it’ll be a great product and very popular if they get the price point right.

The Nikon “callaway” (manufactured for golf) unit doesn’t appear to be available in the UK as yet and therefore I’d be hesitant to include it here until it is – I’m sure it’s available via eBay etc but if it’s not purchased through a reputable UK retailer that brings all it’s own issues – i.e. customer support and warranty.

Thanks for bringing this one up – will be watching this one closely in the coming weeks.

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