How TO

How to Choose The Right Golf Rangefinder for You

bushnell v3The game of golf is tough, your technique and judgement have to be exceptional, but life can be made easier by finding and purchasing a good quality rangefinder. A rangefinder is known to accurately measure the distance of various objects around the golf course. A good quality rangefinder helps to identify objects and also reveals the distance and time to the object (probably the pin). Rangefinders have lasers attached to them which can detect the distance and measure in all weather conditions.

Many enthusiastic golfers have grown to the stage where they can’t live without the product because a rangefinder makes it easier for them to play the game even if the surrounding conditions are not very welcoming. Varieties of golf rangefinders are available in the market with different specifications and features, and of course price ranges. Some are ideal for golf while others can be used for both hunting and golfing. The first important thing before you choose the best golf rangefinder is to be aware of one own needs.  There are several rangefinders which fall under the $100 and some are also on discount. These rangefinders can be searched on and eBay if you want something under your budget. In case you want something really smart and extremely durable for long term then you must consider few points that must be taken into consideration before choosing any golf rangefinder.

Features and Criteria for Choosing a Rangefinder

First of all, good golf rangefinder needs to have a reasonable maximum distance range. Normally, the rangefinders in the market have a range of 1-1500 yards but this varies from model to model. Bushnell again are commended for their ranges and the brand are also famous for working under several climatic conditions as its results always come out clear and really accurate. 

Next up, a rangefinder also needs to excel in its size, shape, magnification and let’s not forget the brand. Only good quality products should be bought because they are the ones that are long lasting and durable. Bushnell Pro 1600 for instance has quality features like pin seeker technology, multi coated optics, reasonable price and large range of measured distances.

Professional players usually like to have tournament edition range finder as it does not give extra features. Such rangefinders which are made only for professional games and give sight distance measuring features, this means that without features like ‘slope’ it can be used in tournament play and is considered ‘legal’ by the governing bodies, as explained in this post.

This said, the slope measuring features are wonderful for practise, so many have found themselves opting for a product such as the Bushnell Tour X which offers the option to turn off the slope feature, making it tournament legal when you need to use it in a match, but in practise round the course you can use the slope feature.

An efficient rangefinder is one with small size and low weight, you will probably have enough to lug around the course as it is. Heavy rangefinders are not a good purchase as their use does not offer any convenience to the user. Therefore buy a rangefinder that is user-friendly and is also compact. Nikon 8397 is rated high on being extremely easy to use rangefinder. Moreover, its speed is really fast and gives quick readings. The user does not have to press complicated buttons to get the readings done as only a push of button can reveal the figures. Nikon 8397 is also water proof. If you are looking for a rangefinder which is a combination of GPS and laser system then Nikon is a brand synonymous with vision and clarity due to their photographic past and the 8397 may well be one of the most logical choices.  Waterproof features are especially useful if you’re in a country where it is likely to rain a lot and still need to practise!

The last thing I will mention is budget, I realise that golf is an expensive hobby and it doesn’t need to be made any more pricey for those on a strict budget. That said, you’re going to need to part with some cash in order to purchase a model. Some go up to around the $500 mark, for which you can expect an amazing range of features, durability, accessories and more, but you can find these type of products, especially the pocket models, for a fraction of this price, and they still have useful features.


Rangefinders are a huge part of the modern game and a great way of practising and feeling your way around the course. Anything that can make this complex sport a little more simple is surely a good thing, and hopefully with this guide you can find the correct model for your needs. If you’re still in any doubt regarding whether using a Rangefinder is for you, the below video should help you decide.

Is Using a Golf Rangefinder in a Tournament ‘Legal’ and Allowed?

bushnellGolf Rangefinders have been such a huge advancement in recent years as technology has come into golf and other sports. Many people own and practise with a rangefinder, and if you don’t, you’ll probably be considering buying one to aid your game, but it is important to know exactly what the rules are and whether you’re going to be able to use it when it comes to playing the sport competitively.

The short answer is that often, Rangefinders as a concept are totally legal. USGA / R&A (the governing bodies who make these decisions) rules clearly state that an ‘artificial device or unusual equipment’ are not allowed, but an extra ‘local rule’ was created when these devices started to crop up, which state that ‘distance measuring devices’ are often legal. The majority of tournaments use these rules, but it is always worth checking the rule sheet of the tournament you are going to play in, which will be available to you in advance and tell you what you need to know.

The slight grey area comes in when it comes to the features contained within your rangefinder, if they have a ‘slope’ measurement (accounting for the contours and slopes on the course) then it may not count as merely a distance measuring device, though these abilities can be disabled and some models which do offer slope are still able to be used in most tournament play, the Bushnell Tour X being an example of such model.

How to Be Safe

To be 100% safe that you are sticking to the rules, there are two steps you should take.

  1. Consult the manual or material that accompanies your rangefinder to check it is tournament legal, the vast majority of these products will liberally advertise if they are because it is a huge selling point.
  2. Before you enter a specific tournament, check the rules sheet which you will probably be either sent or will be available online, and see if it has specific rules about using devices such as these around the course. If you have any doubts whatsoever, get in touch with the organisers of the event, it makes sense to cover your back.

Recommended Tournament Legal Model

Bushnell are one of the best manufacturers of these products, and in their words it is the ‘worlds most advanced’ rangefinder. Quite a claim, but it lives up to scratch. It has a mode which makes it totally tournament legal in the majority of cases and is truly one of the very best models of rangefinder.

What the Rulebook Says

Here are the specifics of what it says in the rules:

Q.Is it legal under the Rules of Golf to use a Rangefinder or other Electronic Distance Measuring device?

A.The use of a distance-measuring device is a breach of Rule 14-3, which states that during a stipulated round, the player shall not use any artificial device or unusual equipment for the purpose of gauging or measuring distance or conditions which might affect his play (Rule 14-3).

The USGA Handicap System requires players to post scores made when a device which measures distance only has been used (regardless of whether the Committee has adopted the Local Rule described below). Scores made while using a device which measures other conditions which might affect play (e.g., wind speed or the slope of the ground) are not acceptable for Handicapping purposes. Please refer to Section 5-1 of the USGA Handicap System Manual regarding acceptable scores. USGA Handicap Home Page

The Committee may, by Local Rule, permit the use of devices that measure distance only (i.e., the device may not be used to measure other conditions such as wind-speed or the slope of the ground). (Rule 14-3 Note and Decision 14-3/0.5)

So as you can see, the slope or wind measuring devices are most likely a no-go in many cases, but rangefinders are usually allowed by the committee.


The short answer is that the majority of the time these products are very useful for tournaments. If you’re playing with friends a simple gentleman’s agreement will do it, but for tournaments it is worth double checking.