I like nice things. I’ll admit to paying a bit more for things that are well built or feel or look better than competing products that do the same exact thing. This is particularly true in golf and tech, and when those two meet, well, let’s just say I could have afforded to play a little bit more golf if I had been more logical in some of the decisions I’ve made. <grin>
We all knew what a “good” rangefinder costs. Sure, you could go to Dick’s and get a rangefinder from a brand you’d never heard of for as little as $150. The thing might work for a few months before the display would start to fade, or it wouldn’t work with a hint of fog, or the laser would get mis-aligned after dropping it a foot into the rough a few times before playing your shot.
We all knew what the “good” brands were, and a lot of golfers either had to shell out as much as a brand-new big-name driver (or more!) to get one, or try to mess around with GPS apps or devices. (I’ve always been a big proponent of laser rangefinders over GPS, for various reasons, but this isn’t the place to re-open that discussion.)
How’d they do? Let’s find out…
Design and Technology
Precision Pro rangefinders come with everything you’d expect from a modern rangefinder. According to Precision Pro, the NX9 comes with:
- Crystal Clear Optics with an enhanced LCD display and 6x magnification
- Magnetic Grip for attaching to the vertical beam in most golf carts (or clubs, or steel shafts)
- Adaptive Slope (NX9 Slope only, of course) will adjust for the slope and give you a calculated effective playing yardage.
- Pulse Vibration lets you know when you’ve locked on to the flag.
- Target Acquisition Technology makes it easy to lock on to the target even with shaky hands.
Precision Pro also says that both models offer a “shock-proof” and “water resistant” design. Both models are accurate to one yard and have a 400-yard range. Both are tournament legal (though you will have to disable the slope feature if your model supports it).
The NX9 Slope is a two-lens, two-button rangefinder, with the top buttons being the power/distance “getter” button and a “mode” button that will switch between both slope or no-slope with a short press and meters/yards with a long press.
The viewfinder, as noted above, offers 6x magnification with an LCD display in standard black/dark grey. My NX9 Slope displays only integers, while the NX7 (which also did slope) will display down to the tenths of a yard. Either is fine – I chuckle whenever a rangefinder tells me I have 223.7 yards to the flag. The battery is a standard rangefinder battery – the CR2 – and Precision Pro will send you a new battery every time yours dies, for as long as you own your rangefinder.
Finally, though it’s not really technology related, Precision Pro offers what they call the Precision Care Package free with every rangefinder. This includes:
- 90 day money-back guarantee
- Free lifetime battery replacement
- Two-year warranty
- Guaranteed trade-in allowance (30%)
- Fast turnaround, no cost replacement
- Fast response time
Performance and Esthetics
We reviewed two models: the NX9 Slope edition and what was the NX7 but which has now been re-classified (and slightly remodeled to add the magnetic strip) as the NX9 Non-Slope version. Testing occurred over a few months in a variety of weather conditions, including fog and rain.
Esthetically, all of Precision Pro rangefinders are oriented vertically as is now standard (can you believe we once had “horizontal” rangefinders?). They fit great in one hand, though if you’re shaky, you can use your second hand to steady the rangefinder. The Precision Pro bright green color is used around the lenses and sparingly elsewhere, while the NX9 Slope version features a metallic silver plastic side panel. The power button on both is green and sits beneath your index finger, with the mode button sitting often two fingers further down toward the lenses, under your ring finger.
The NX9 Slope has a battery door that pretty firmly locks into place, while the old NX7 had a round screw-on door. If I’m being honest, the screw-on door feels more secure to me – a little knock feels like it might pop the battery door off the NX9. Though, of course, it never did in testing, so take that for what it’s worth.
The hexagonal gripping surfaces on both models provide a little extra grip and feel good, though both rangefinders are made of a moderately firm plastic. The hexagonal pattern is a bit softer. Both models are made of plastic, primarily, so they’re going to feel significantly lighter than higher-priced rangefinders. This is one of the ways that Precision Pro is able to charge less, and since the material really doesn’t affect performance, it’s a worthwhile tradeoff for a few hundred dollars, in my opinion.
The adjustable focus eyepiece is relatively wide and the glass is not sunk too far, which is great for those of us who wear glasses as it allows for a relatively wide viewing angle that avoids the “barrel look” of some other rangefinders. The range of focal adjustments worked for everyone who tested them, and the focal range was fairly large (objects from 50 to 350 yards appeared to be quite crisp if you adjusted for focus at about 200 yards).
The first and most obvious test of any rangefinder: check it against itself as well as other rangefinders. You can check a rangefinder against itself by repeatedly measuring the same object, particularly if it’s something flat and still like the side of a building or the trunk of a tree.
The NX9 performed great at this task. Yardages were consistently within one yard of each other as well as other rangefinders. The most fluctuation occurred with flags that were flapping in the breeze, and that was still within about 1.5 yards every time.
As I said, I played with the Precision Pro NX9 Slope in rain, fog, and bright sunlight. One time, when the sun was directly over the flag (I had to shield the rangefinder lens from the sun to look through it safely), I had a little trouble getting a yardage. It took a few attempts.
In rain, the rangefinder continued to work. Small water spots on the lenses didn’t seem to affect the ability to get a yardage, and I learned to just leave the NX9 on the cart via the magnetic mount. The NX9 had some trouble with fog, however. In moderate to heavy fog, the rangefinder would almost always say “6.2 yards” or something else nonsensical. Most of the time, other rangefinders had trouble as well, but there were times when a morning mist perplexed the NX9. These situations weren’t common at all in the summer, but as the weather cooled in the fall, we got them occasionally.
While I can’t say I tested the “shock-proof design” as thoroughly as possible (I’m picturing an off-shoot of those “will it blend?” videos right now wherein people chuck things at brick walls or something), I did drop my range finder onto fairways or into the rough, toss it into the back of my car, throw it to a friend, and scoop it up using the magnet onto a club or shaft. At no point did I worry that the rangefinder would break or crack, and the alignment continued to be spot on. I’ve had rangefinders in the past where you had to mis-aim them because something got mis-aligned, but that didn’t happen in a few months of, quite honestly, kinda beating on these rangefinders. My daughter cares a bit less for her things than I do and also plays a LOT more golf than I do, and her rangefinder is still perfectly accurate.
The slope feature worked well. While some competing rangefinders will feature a “setup” process that asks you how far you hit a few clubs, or what your trajectory is, that’s only ever resulted in a one-yard adjustment or so in my experience. The Precision Pro NX9 just gives you an adjusted yardage that’s average for most golfers. Sure, if you hit your 7I 175 and another player hits his 4I that far, the effective yardage will vary slightly, but again, most of us aren’t controlling our yardages to within a half yard, and if you are, the wind, the lie, etc. are going to have a larger effect than a range finder that’s off 1% on a calculated adjustment. That’s a long way of saying the adjustments uphill or downhill are very good, and can be relied upon for almost all golfers to provide an accurate playing yardage on even the steepest up- or down-hill shots. Whether you face a 75-yard shot that plays 88 or a 140-yard shot that plays 129, the NX9 will help you dial in your shot. Then, it’s up to you to hit it.
Functionally, the NX9 performs well. The mode button will toggle between “M1” (non-slope mode) and M2 (slope mode), which is more obvious with the second yardage at the top of the display. Long pressing the mode button toggles between yards and meters.
The NX9 works a bit differently than other rangefinders and it takes a few holes to get used to it, or at least it did for me: I’m used to pressing and holding a button on other rangefinders to “scan” the target. They’ll lock on and vibrate or indicate that they’ve picked up the flag, but I can also scan a target line to see the distance to a bunker, the trees behind it, etc. The NX9 asks you to tap the button and hold the rangefinder over the single object you wish to scan.
The NX9’s mode actually feels a bit faster and less prone to errors, but for the first few holes I kept holding down the power button and expecting to get a yardage, only to then remember to tap it. So, while there’s no scan mode or anything, you’ll probably save battery life by just tapping instead of constantly shooting lasers off into the distance. <grin>
All told, a rangefinder has one main job: to get the yardage right, and the NX9 does a great job. Target acquisition is quick, the display is easy to read, and the vibration lets you know that you’ve locked on to the target.
If I have any small complaints, they’re just that: small. I noted the “heft” above, and the second is the size or strength of the magnet. I’m reviewing another rangefinder with a certain “mouth-based” word for their magnet feature, and the NX9 magnet is noticeably weaker. Some of that is undoubtedly due to the size of the magnet – the NX9’s magnetic area is about 2″ x 7/8″. The material over the magnetized area is also a smooth, firmer-touch plastic, while on the “other” rangefinder is a softer, much tackier rubber that seems to increase the grip.
I’ll temper that minor complaint by saying that the rangefinder never fell off the cart’s windshield post, where I’d often stick it. Even when I put the rangefinder horizontally, for the least magnet surface contact, it remained in place. The NX9 still gripped club shafts, clubfaces, and other metal surfaces well enough. Precision Pro also points out that due to the lighter weight of the NX9, a stronger magnet is not needed. Still, the NX9 lacks that satisfying “pull” when I’d get the other rangefinder within about an inch of a metal surface. See the first paragraph of this review… 😉
My final small complaint is that my NX9’s “mode” button is fairly easily clicked with my ring finger as I grip the rangefinder. On my NX7, the buttons have a firmer click, so I didn’t accidentally press the mode button. Why does this matter? Because as currently configured, tapping the mode button once toggles the Slope mode on and off. If you accidentally tap it and enable Slope, then get a yardage, you’ve breached the Rules. I did this a few times in casual play. A long press of the button switches between meters and yards, and in my opinion, this problem would be resolved by switching that functionality. Or, more likely, I might have simply gotten an NX9 with a softer button than most, and this isn’t a problem at all (like on the NX7).
I haven’t talked about the case, so I guess I’ll shoehorn this in here. It’s a fairly standard rangefinder case, made of a woven fabric over a plastic body, with an elastic strap plus a zipper, and a clip on the back side for attaching to your bag. Many will clip the case to their bag, and either let the case sit unzipped or will throw the elastic strap over the case to keep it closed, but still provide ready access to the rangefinder. With the magnet mount, though, I never did this: I’d use the magnetic mount on the NX9 to attach it to the cart windshield post and put my wallet and keys in the case, mostly to remind me to get the NX9 before dropping the cart off at the end of the round! The case is simple, attractive, and functional. Everything you could want. Again, I didn’t chuck it against a brick wall, but I did toss it in the back of my car, push carts rolled over it, bags sat on it, etc. and it showed no signs of wear or damage. It did its job.
Like I said, I’m testing a competing rangefinder with slope and a magnet on it. This other rangefinder is made by one of the “big names” in rangefinders, and they sponsor a number of PGA Tour players. Their equivalent model – with a magnet and the Slope feature – costs $400.
The Precision Pro offers virtually the same actual performance, plus lifetime battery replacements and great customer service (I’ve had a few friends use their customer service, including one who accidentally but completely drowned his rangefinder), and costs $269 for the NX9 Slope model and $219 for the NX9 Non-Slope (and, if you look even a little, you’ll find coupons to save an extra $20+ from time to time – during Amazon Prime Day, for example, the NX9 Slope cost $215.99).
The tradeoffs are small, and the performance is right there with the best in the game. You won’t be paying for a metal body, or a bigger magnet, but you’re also not paying for multi-million dollar marketing campaigns. Instead, you’re supporting a business based in Cincinnati, OH, and getting a great performing rangefinder with all the features while saving enough to play more than a few more rounds of golf.
The NX7 Pro (a model with Slope) was replaced in the Precision Pro lineup in late summer, 2020, and we reviewed the NX7 Pro as well as the NX9 Slope model. Here are photos of that NX7 model. The NX9 Slope model is featured above within the review.