Cheers in advance
Golf Gear mentioned in this thread:
Its what I've got, its free, and it works fine.
You can upgrade to the full monty if, and when, you want to.
Just beware that if you go the route of a phone based GPS - I have Golfshot and it works great - that you might run into problems if you play tournaments. I know some tournaments won't allow cell phones AT ALL. Others have rules that say if there is anything on your phone at all that could provide you with illegal info then you can't use it, even if that app is turned off or you don't use it. I think that has to do with some programs ability to factor in info other than just distance and provide you with club choices, but I'm really not sure.
I'm playing in a tournament in a couple of weeks and I think they are using the latter rule. Because of it, I am thinking about just leaving the phone in the car to be safe. Because I don't even know if there is anything on my phone that's illegal, I just don't want to take the chance. I'd rather go old school and search out some sprinkler heads for the day than get DQ'd.
A rangefinder would come in handy if you play courses which are hilly and have a lot of mounds and swales around the green.
I played a course that had some raised rolls in front of the greens - the rolls hid the bottom of the flagstick, made the stick look shorter and the distance longer. I knocked two approach shots over the green because I overestimated the yardage.
I have a Sky Caddie and it sets at home collecting dust. I do not care for them have to log in on a computer and down load the courses you play, and th every limited information.
What I use today is my Android Cell Phone using Golf Logix. They are not limited to an Android, any of the newer cell phones can run it. Every Cell Phone has a GPS receiver in them so Big Brother can track you. It can also be used by applications.
The Golf Logix has both a free limited service, and full featured service for $20/year? It provides much more information than my Sky Caddie does. Does not mattery what course I want to play. Start th eapp and it loads whatever course you are playing. It will keep your score, stats, handicap if you wish to enter it. You can log into your account from any computer and see all your scores, and even shot by shot if you enter it while you play.
As golfingdad points out, be aware that Smartphones are not legal for tournament play. That certainly applies for serious tournaments, but it should also affect your local club tournaments too, since they're not supposed to arbitrarily waive rules. Check with your course to be sure.
Similarly, if you're buying a rangefinder, make sure it does not include slope information, if you wish to use it in tournaments.
Personally, I love my Skycaddie SG5. I can't imagine I would play a round of golf without some kind of hand held GPS. I'm not a fan of using my phone, mainly the screen on your phone is not made to be seen in bright sunlight, golf specific GPS units are, secondly, one round of golf will drain your phone battery to nothing, I can play 38 holes in a day and still have battery left on my GPS. I also own a rangefinder and just don't like it as well as I like the GPS units, but that's just my personal preference.
I've had 2 GPS units and a couple of laser rangefinders, and had friends with several others, including some of the free apps. From those that I've seen or used, I very much prefer my Garmin G5 GPS over any other I've tried (surprise, surprise - I like mine best ). With it I don't feel the need for a laser, ever. I can get any info that a laser will give me, and more besides. The laser is restricted to line of sight. If you can't see it, you can't measure it. My Garmin has a target circle which can be positioned anywhere on the hole - just drag it on the touch screen. I can then see the distance from my current position to that target, and from the target to the pin, regardless of intervening trees or hills. The pin can also be moved anywhere on the green. The graphic also shows the locations of prominent trees along with the bunkers and hazards, and even depicts mounding in some areas. Last I heard, there are some 25,000+ courses in the database, all are preloaded, no fees or subscriptions, and the database is updated regularly and can be downloaded free.
By the way, it can also keep score for up to 4 players and will track your stats too if you so choose. It runs on 2 AA batteries and you can either go rechargeable with NiMH, or do like I do and use Energizer Lithiums - I get at least 6 - 7 full rounds from a pair of batteries. I don't like screwing around with rechargeables. For me, all that means is that I either forget to recharge them and the unit is dead in my bag, or the batteries are on the changer and the unit is empty. At least this one does give the fall back option of buying a couple in the store on the way to the course.
It's not the cheapest golf GPS but in my opinion, it's the best. And since Garmin is the world leader in consumer GPS, that doesn't surprise me.