What's A Golf Rangefinder and Do I Need One?

Have you ever used a rangefinder? Many amateur golfers have not. However, a golf rangefinder can really help take your game up a notch.

In fact, when you're considering an accessory that can help improve your golf game, a rangefinder should be one of the first things on your list. But what exactly is a golf rangefinder? Do you need one? In this blog post, we'll discuss that and more. Let's take a look.

What's a Rangefinder?

A golf rangefinder is a handheld device that typically uses laser technology (although others exist) to measure the distance between you and your target. That target is usually the flagstick on the green. Most rangefinders will also give the golfer an estimate of the yardage to clear any hazards that may be in between the golfer and the green.

man using rangefinder

Golf rangefinders are legal for use in tournament play, and they can give a golfer a significant advantage over their competitors.

While rangefinders are not allowed on every golf course, they are becoming increasingly common, and many golfers believe that they are essential for achieving a low score. If you're serious about your game, a golf rangefinder is a valuable tool that can help you to improve your performance on the course.

Reasons You Need a Rangefinder

So why do you need to invest in a rangefinder? Here are some of the most compelling reasons to get your hands on one:

Improved Distance Control

One of the most important aspects of golf is controlling your distance. If you can't control your distance, you'll never be able to hit the green in regulation. With a rangefinder, you can take all the guesswork out of your game and know exactly how far you need to hit the ball. This will help you to control your distance and improve your accuracy.


Better Angular Comprehension

By taking into account the angle of your shot, the rangefinder can give you a more accurate estimate of how far you need to hit the ball. This information can be invaluable when you're trying to make a long putt.

In addition, many rangefinders come equipped with features like slope compensation, which can help you adjust for elevation changes. These are things that are difficult to calculate manually, but with a rangefinder, they're easy to take into account.

Improve Your Confidence While Playing

How much better would you feel by taking out botched shots from the equation? When you know how far you're hitting the ball, you can have much more confidence in your game. This newfound confidence can lead to lower scores and a better overall performance on the course.

Improve Your Pace of Play

Are you a notoriously slow player? Many of us are guilty of a slow pace of play, especially when we are newer to the game. A rangefinder can help you to speed up your play by eliminating the need to walk off yardages. Simply point and shoot, then select your club and swing away. This will save you valuable time on the course, and your playing partners will definitely appreciate it.

If you find you're still lagging behind the pace you would like, maybe you have an energy generation problem. In that case, we recommend a sustained release energy booster like Dawn To Dusk, which supplies up to 12 hours of no-crash energy to you.

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Make It Easier to Find Your Ball Quickly

Looking for a lost ball is a major waste of time. Not only does it take up valuable time on the course, but it can also be frustrating. A rangefinder can help you find errant balls by pinpointing their location. This can save you a lot of time and aggravation, and it can help you directly keep your pace of play up.

Helps in Determining The Distance to Hazards

No more guessing how far the water hazard is from the tee. Most rangefinders will have a scan mode that gives you continuous readings as you pan across the landscape. This comes in especially handy on those doglegged holes where you can't see the flag.

Assists With Club Selection

Not sure which club to use? A rangefinder can help with that too! After all, the whole point is to give you an accurate reading of the distance. This will help take some of the guesswork out of choosing the right club for your shot since it is well-known that picking the wrong club is one of the leading causes of high scores.

golf club set

Will Benefit Your Overall Skillset

Using a rangefinder frequently definitely contributes to an eventual improvement in your skillset. This is because as you use a rangefinder to get more yardage data, you start to develop an understanding of how far you actually hit each club in your bag. After some time, this will become second nature and you'll have a much better idea of what clubs to use in different situations. Not to mention, the more confidence you have in your abilities, the better you will play.

Think of them as training wheels (although they are like turbocharged rocket wheels) for your game.

Makes Course Management Easier

Do you know what course management is? You really should as your experience level grows.

By understanding exactly how far you need to hit the ball, you can better plan your strategy for each hole. This is course management, and it is a critical aspect of golf. With a rangefinder, you can choose whether to lay up or go for broke without having to guess at the yardage. This can lead to lower scores and a better experience on the course.

Types of Rangefinders for Golf and How They Work

Laser Rangefinder

Laser rangefinders are the most popular type of rangefinder used in golf. They work by sending out a laser beam that reflects off of the target. The time it takes for the beam to reflect back is used to calculate the distance to the target.

GPS Rangefinder

A GPS rangefinder uses satellite technology to determine the distance to a target. These devices usually come in the form of handheld units or smartphone apps. They are very simple to use and can be extremely accurate., except in poor weather and overcast conditions.

golf rangefinder app

Optical Rangefinder

Optical rangefinders are the oldest type of rangefinder. They use a telescope to magnify the image of the target, and then a readout is used to determine the distance. They are generally considered the least accurate type of rangefinder and aren't used very often anymore.

Important Considerations When Choosing A Rangefinder

Know Just How Far Your Rangefinder Can Measure

Not all rangefinders have the same capability. The majority of rangefinders will have the ability to measure between 400 and 1000 yards, with some going even further. If you aren't sure how far your rangefinder can measure, consult the manual or manufacturer's website.


Of course, you want your rangefinder to be as accurate as possible. After all, what good is a rangefinder if it cant give you an accurate reading? Most rangefinders will have an accuracy of +/- 1 yard. This means that the reading could be off by as much as one yard in either direction. While this may not seem like much, it can make a big difference when you are trying to hit a specific target.

Magnification Potential

The magnification of a rangefinder is important because it will determine how clear the image is. Most rangefinders have a magnification of 6x, which is generally considered to be the sweet spot. This provides enough magnification to get a clear image, without being so magnified that it is difficult to hold steady.

Ease of Use

You want a rangefinder that is easy to use, especially if you aren't familiar with how they work. Look for a rangefinder with large buttons and an easy-to-read display. Many rangefinders also come with a carrying case to keep them safe and protected. 

kid with rangefinder

Ideally, it should be easy enough that a kid can use it.


Rangefinders can range in price from around $100 to $500 or more. It's important to find one that fits your budget, but don't necessarily go for the cheapest option. You want to make sure you are getting a quality product that will last for many rounds of golf.


You want a rangefinder that is built to last. After all, you aren't going to want to replace it every season. Look for a rangefinder that is weather-resistant (especially waterproof) and can withstand being dropped or knocked around.

Scan Speed

The scan speed is the rate at which the rangefinder can take measurements. A faster scan speed is generally better, as it will allow you to take multiple readings in a shorter period of time. The average scan speed can range from 1 to 8 seconds.

Battery Life

You don't want your rangefinder to die in the middle of your round, so battery life is an important consideration. Most rangefinders will use either a 9-volt or CR2 battery. You should be able to get several rounds of golf out of one battery, but it is always a good idea to have extras on hand just in case.

Plus, newer models have begun to include rechargeable lithium-ion battery technology which can be a great way to save money in the long run.

Dimensions (Weight and Size)

You want a rangefinder that is small and light enough to easily carry around with you on the golf course. The average weight of a rangefinder is around 6 ounces, although some can be as heavy as 12 ounces. The size will vary depending on the model, but most are generally around 4 inches long and 2 inches wide.

Visual Display

The quality of the display and optics is important for getting a clear image. Look for a rangefinder with a bright, easy-to-read display. The optics should be high quality and provide a clear image, even in low light conditions. Otherwise, can you imagine even getting the utility out of the rangefinder?

Slope Compensation and Measurement Feature

The slope compensation feature is becoming increasingly popular in rangefinders. This allows the rangefinder to take into account the elevation change between you and the target. This can be a helpful feature if you are playing on a course with a lot of hills or uneven terrain.

golf course slope

However, keep in mind that this feature isn't legal for tournament play.

Common Complaints About Golf Rangefinders

Even though there are so many upsides of rangefinders, there are, unfortunately, some things that are not so great. For instance:

  • They can be expensive.
  • The battery life isn't always great in older models
  • Some models can be clunky and difficult to carry around.
  • Not all models come with a carrying case, which can leave them susceptible to damage
  • The slope compensation feature isn't legal for tournament play.

    How to Use Your Golf Rangefinder

    Now that you know what a golf rangefinder is and its many merits, it's time to learn how to use it. Using a rangefinder is actually very simple and only takes a few steps.

    First, you need to identify your target. This can be anything from the flagstick on the green to a bunker in the distance. Once you have your target in sight, press the power button to turn on the rangefinder.

    Then, hold the rangefinder up to your eye and look through the viewfinder. You should see a crosshair or reticle in the center of the viewfinder. Line this up with your target and press the button to take a reading. The display will then show you the distance to your target.

    And that's it! Just keep in mind that you need to be still while taking the reading, as even a small movement can throw off the accuracy. You should also hold the rangefinder steady to avoid getting a blurry image.


    What Is the Cost to Buy a Rangefinder?

    The price of a rangefinder can vary depending on the brand, features, and quality. You can find some models for as little as $100, while others can cost upwards of $500.

    Is Using a Golf Rangefinder Legal?

    Golf rangefinders are legal for use in most tournaments and competitions. However, there are some exceptions, so it's always best to check with the governing body of the event you're playing in to be sure.

    How Accurate Are Rangefinders?

    Most golf rangefinders are quite accurate, with many models boasting an accuracy of +/- 1 yard. However, there can be some factors that can affect the accuracy, such as the type of terrain you're on and the weather conditions.

    Can I Use a Rangefinder Designed for Hunting for Golf?

    Yes, you can use a rangefinder designed for hunting for golf. However, keep in mind that not all rangefinders are created equal. Some hunting rangefinders may not have all the features you need for golf, such as slope compensation or measurement in yards.

    Should I Use a Golf Rangefinder?

    It's all up to you, but we think that golf rangefinders can be a helpful tool for players of all levels. They can help you make more accurate shots and can even add a bit of fun to the game. Just remember to check the rules before using one in a competition!

    Are Golf Rangefinders Worth it?

    If you're on the fence about whether or not to get a golf rangefinder, consider your needs and how it can help you improve your game. For some players, it's an essential tool, while others find that they don't use it as much. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide if it's worth the investment.

    How to Use a Rangefinder When There is a Slope?

    If you're using a rangefinder with slope compensation, simply follow the instructions above. The rangefinder will do the calculations for you and take the slope into account.

    Final Words

    More and more, rangefinders are becoming essential tools in the successful golfer's arsenal. Sure, some golfers are opposed to them as they can feel like using "cheat codes", but under most circumstances, they are completely legal for use and can make your round much more productive and enjoyable. If you think a rangefinder could help your game, we suggest giving one a try! You might just fall in love.