The next two weeks here at the Bag Drop, I'm going to focus on devices that can help you determine distances on a golf course. While the vast majority of us aren't good enough to know the difference between a 158 yard vs. 162 yard shot, it still is important knowing distances to hazards, greens, and pins.
This week I'm going to take a look at some laser rangefinders (next week we'll focus on GPS units) that I checked into while attempting to determine what would work out the best for me. The nice thing is that there are more options coming out so hopefully you can find a rangefinder that will work out for you and your budget.
Let's take a look at a few.
Bushnell is probably the biggest name out there. They've been making range finders for hunters and other sportsmen for a few decades. They've gotten favorable reviews and all four models now feature the Pinseeker technology to help acquire the flag more easily.
This year, Bushnell came out with the Tour V2, a smaller handheld model that you can use with one hand. I was quite tempted to pick this model up but after looking at their entire lineup and trying a few out, I opted for the Pinseeker 1500 Tournament Edition instead. You can add a Bushnell to your bag from $299 for the Medalist up to $449 for the Tournament Edition with Slope. Just remember, however: the "Slope" editions can't be used in any tournament rounds, even if you disable or ignore the slope-reading feature.
In the past year, Callaway Golf has entered the rangefinder market as well. Partnering with Nikon and essentially re-branding Nikon products, Callaway has two models, the LR 800, which can measure out to 800 yards and costs about $429.99 and the LR 1200 which can measure out to 1,200 yards and costs $499.99.
At those price points, I'm not sure how many Callaway is going to sell as that seems to be pretty steep. Also, not having a entry level or lower price model may make golfers quickly bypass these.
Leupold has been around since 1907 making riflescopes for hunters, target shooters, police, and the U.S. Armed Forces. Taking that experience, they've come out with two new rangefinders, the GX-I and GX-II which both feature PinHunter laser technology which can "see" the pin from up to 350 yards. The GX-I comes in at about $299.99 and the GX-II, which the addition feature of "True Golf Range" that takes into account the slope of your shot comes in at $399.99.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to check these are out as they only were carried in a couple of golf shops in the Twin Cities area. Hopefully they will more popular and be a bit easier to find in the coming months, as a $299 model sits right at the current entry level.
In The End
I finally took the plunge this year and picked up a rangefinder to not only help me with finding out what my true distances are with my clubs (rather than guessing) but also to really focus on getting better with my wedges by utilizing the clock method for distance (7:30, 9:00, 10:30 and full). In the past, I had no clue how far my 48°, 52° and 56° wedges traveled with those swings. I've had a couple of range sessions thus far using the rangefinder and have been quite pleased with the results.
I've only use my rangefinder once on the course this year and being able to quickly determine distances to the pin, bunkers and of course, out-of-bounds has been quite nice. The added bonus is that I play a bit faster as I don't have to look around for yardage markers and sprinkler heads.
One last thing, check to see if the rangefinder you are looking at comes in a hunting version. In some instances, the hunting version was a bit cheaper than the golf version. The features might be named different but look to be basically the same. If you don't mind the camouflages color, you could save yourself a decent chunk of change.