Laser rangefinder vs. GPS – Which one should you choose?

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Back in the old days, when a golf player was on the field, there was the need for a caddie to not only carry the player’s gear but to provide useful info such as the approximate distance to the next hole, how many obstacles are on the course, and what is the trajectory that the shot should take. Obviously, this wasn’t an ideal method of informing yourself about what are the conditions of the shot that you must make as a human can’t approximate such parameters too well, no matter the person’s training.

Fortunately, these days technology helps golf players take more precise shots, without being surprised about any element as the trajectory, distance, and obstacles can be more easily detected and established. The golf device that helps players gather accurate info from this point of view is the rangefinder, of course. But there are two main types of golf rangefinders to choose between on the market, more precisely GPS and laser. Read the rest of our article to find out what is the better choice and why.

Laser Rangefinders Advantages

  • Accuracy – The biggest strongpoint of laser models is the fact that they’re superiorly accurate when it comes to providing the yardage to a visible target. Additionally, you will receive the exact yardage to the flag, better locating it on the green so that you may take a precise shot. What makes them so accurate is the technology and the manner in which they operate.
  • Courses – These rangefinders don’t require updates when going to a new golf course. This is a major advantage as you won’t have to remember to upload anything on the device before you leave home to go and relax on the course as they work on all courses.
  • Magnification – Magnification plays an important role in the game as it provides you with the possibility to lock on a target easier, getting to see exactly what awaits you. Due to the magnification feature, you won’t need binoculars on the course as well, so there will be less items to pack when you head to the course.
  • Learning curve – Ease of use is of a great importance as you surely don’t want to waste time learning to operate the rangefinder, but rather use that time playing a relaxing game of golf. It will only take a few minutes for you to locate all the settings and commands and get accustomed with them, so there won’t be an issue from this point of view if you do end up using a laser golf rangefinder.
  • Battery life – Another important highlight of laser models is the fact that they last for a long time. Depending on the specific rangefinder that you purchase and use, and depending on how often you use it, the device’s battery can even last for one year or more.

Laser Rangefinders Disadvantages

  • Steadiness – Unfortunately, steadiness is required to operate the laser golf rangefinder. This is an issue for some people as trembling hands make their lives a lot harder when using the golf device.
  • Target inaccuracy – There is the possibility that when you use the laser device, you lock onto the wrong target. This usually happens when you’re too far away from the target, so the closer you get to it, the more accurate the reading will be.
  • Obstacles – Although this might not be a common problem, when it appears, it renders the golf device useless. Unfortunately, laser models are unable to read the distance or lock onto obstacles that aren’t visible to you in plain sight.

GPS Rangefinders Advantages

  • Hole layouts – Some GPS rangefinders are able to provide a layout of all the holes on the course before you start playing. This is a major advantage when you’re playing on a new course that you’re not familiar with.
  • Easy to use – Unlike laser units, GPS golf rangefinders don’t require steadiness on your part. These devices will provide accurate yardages without requiring you to aim at them too presice.
  • More complete distances – Another element where GPS devices surpass the laser ones is that they provide distances to the back, middle, and front of the green. These basic pieces of information help the user aim the target with a greater precision.
  • Tracking targets that you can’t see – There are hazards and obstacles that you won’t be able to see on the course. The GPS device provides you accurate yardage even to these targets, thus making it less probable for an obstacle to mess up your shot.
  • Other features – As opposed to laser golf devices, GPS rangefinders come with more features, such as statistics, shot-measuring functions, and more. These features make a big difference in the quality of the game as they ensure that you will be aware of more elements.

GPS Rangefinders Disadvantages

  • Courses – As expected, not everything is perfect with these golf devices. Unfortunately, although they come pre-loaded with numerous courses, the rangefinders sometimes require you to hook them up to a computer in order to update them and load new courses, which can become a big inconvenience.
  • Accuracy – Don’t get us wrong, GPS units are pretty accurate, but the truth of the matter is that they’re just not as accurate as laser rangefinders are. This is all due to the interferences with the satellites, interferences such as trees, clouds, and more.
  • Battery life – Another downside to these models is the fact that the battery life isn’t as long as it is with laser units. The battery of a golf GPS will need to be charged every few rounds, which is quite bothersome.

Side-by-Side Comparison

Now that you know what are the advantages and disadvantages of both types of golf rangefinders, let’s see a side-by-side comparison of the two devices to have a clearer understanding of what model is better and why. In this comparison table, we will insert a check mark to show what is the type of rangefinder that scores better when it comes to that specific performance element.

Compare Laser Rangefinders GPS Rangefinders
Number of Courses
Complete Distance Readings
Ease of Use
Battery Life

Conclusion – What Is the Better Option to Go With?

As expected after viewing the side-by-side comparison presented above, we consider the GPS rangefinders to be the better option to go with, and we strongly recommend that you invest in the GPS technology rather than on the laser one. Sure, it might come with its own flaws, but as time will pass the GPS rangefinders will only get better and more accurate, and what makes them superior at the moment is the fact that they’re more versatile in use and more functional. Appealing to modern people than laser golf devices do, they are clearly the future when it comes to rangefinders. In case laser models appealed more to you, we advise you to give hybrid golf rangefinders a try. They combine all the best elements of GPS and laser units in a single golf device, so you will enjoy the best of both worlds by using hybrids.