Golf Rangefinders and Golf GPS Products have the same goal, to help us navigate the course and work out distances vital for shot selection, club selection and ultimately improving your game. These two technologies work in two very different ways in spite of having a very similar end result, so which is the best to take to the course with you? Do you even have to choose between them or can you use both? We’ve got some answers for you here in the ultimate showdown of GPS vs Rangefinder.
Gone are the days when you’d have to look at landmarks on the course to work out yardages or worse, have to guess. Looking for targets from a distance is tough, and thankfully technology has been introduced to help make it a little simpler. We live in the age of the ‘smart’ device, and a golf GPS can even be put into a watch or a device on your phone, and while introducing these types of products has been done for over a decade now, it is easier than ever to take something onto the course which lets you measure distances and work out the distances around the course and ultimately find the pin!
Genuinely, we’re not looking at huge differences here, the price ranges are pretty similar and as with any product, there are budget models as well as much more expensive, high end models which you can show off at the golf club! The GPS models are marginally cheaper in general, but really, the difference isn’t so huge that it will make a massive impact on your decision, and it more boils down to what features are on offer.
As you may have guessed by the name of this site, we’re more focused on Rangefinders, but I’m being unbiased for the benefit of this review and have taken a lot of the opinions of this independent review of the top 10 models in order to make sure we have a fair fight, so with that in mind…
Pros of the GPS
As already mentioned, a marginal cost benefit comes into play with the GPS, but not huge money. Put it this way; the savings won’t buy you a new set of clubs.
What is wonderful about the GPS is versatility, you can get apps on your phone, a palm held, reader style device, something that clips on to your buggy and even things you can wear such as the GPS watches which are becoming so popular. Whatever format you want for your yardages and distance readings you can likely get something which suits you.
While a rangefinder gives more info on what you can see, and may even enhance what you can see, it doesn’t give a full overview of the hole or the course which you get more of with the GPS, allowing you to plan ahead and see hazards on the course. Not the most important thing if you’re used to the course, but if you’re playing golf in a new area, this can be really useful.
Cons of the Golf GPS
The GPS Units for golf do have their negatives though, and they are what lead us to recommend rangefinders instead. Firstly, it is down to the companies who make them to map the golf courses and keep them updated, which is tough considering how many destinations there are in the world to go and play golf, and the courses you play on aren’t guaranteed to have been mapped.
Secondly, the accuracy isn’t as good. GPS technology has come a long way, but doesn’t do what the laser style rangefinders do by using optics, and don’t give the most accurate readings possible. We’ve also found usability to be a bit more difficult, you’ve got more buttons and things which can go wrong than with a rangefinder, which option have a function to just point and go.
Comparison With the Golf Rangefinder
The Pros of rangefinders really line up with the cons of the GPS units. You can use them anywhere, and don’t have to rely on software to do so, you can simply point and go. They’re useful for golf and for hunting so if you have both of these hobbies you’re in luck. Rangefinders work using totally different technology and while you can’t see the whole course with them, they measure distances amazingly and accurately to ensure you’re getting the best on the course.
So, is the answer to the question of “Which is better, a rangefinder or a GPS?” Simply “Rangefinder”. Well, no. In my opinion, if it comes down to a choice between the two, you may be swayed to go for a rangefinder depending on your needs, but I present a third option…
Yes, there’s a twist in the tail of our showdown. While there are many great Rangefinders and GPS units we can recommend, if you’re wondering which of the two to go for and simply can’t decide, this is an amazing option for you.
Bushnell Hybrid Laser-Gps Rangefinder Review
Bushnell are one of the most prolific companies manufacturing golf electronics, and their Hybrid model is exceptional. It was only a matter of time before someone noticed that there would always be differences and put both into one single model.
The features include 30,000 installed courses which you don’t have to pay extra for (some manufacturers need a membership but these do not) and a reliable rangefinder to go with a reliable gps! Bushnell provide some of the best golf rangefinders out there, so you know that you’re getting quality optics and accurate readings to the pin. It can tell you a distance to the front, center, and back of the greens you’re playing on (whichever greens on whichever course). It can work up to a massive 1,000 yards and the quality is exceptional.
If you can’t go with the Hybrid, best of both worlds option mentioned above, we’d advise that you consider your needs. If you’re playing a lot of courses and are certain they’ll all be on the GPS device then it may well be a good option for you, but for ease of use as well as versatility, not to mention the most important feature, accuracy, we recommend rangefinders.