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GPS or Laser Rangefinder?

GPS or Laser Rangefinder?

GPS or laser rangefinder? The golf market is now awash with a huge selection of both varieties. The question is which one is better suited to your game?

To make your decision a little easier we have considered the pros and cons of each design.



When it comes to GPS devices the single biggest selling point has to be the cost. Anyone with a smartphone, which in modern society is a huge majority of people can now download basic GPS apps for absolutely nothing. While standalone GPS devices such as watches and handheld units can cost as little as £69. Prices do start to rise as you look to more feature packed designs but to get your foot in the door of the GPS market you needn't worry about breaking the bank.

When it comes to GPS devices there is a huge selection in varying shapes and sizes. Golfers can now access course yardages on their phone, on watches, on hat clips, or hand held devices, there really is something for everyone. For speed and ease of use the GPS watch has to be the best option, always at hand a watch offers a clear, easy to read display providing all the information you need with a quick glance. If you're not a fan of wearing a watch while playing then you should certainly consider a hand held device, most come with attachments to fit to either your bag or trolley making them quick to access.

If you're really into your gadgets and a simple GPS just won't do then many brands now offer a feature packed design that provides golfers with the whole course at their fingertips. Slightly larger full-colour, touch-screen displays offer precise hole overviews that identify exactly where the hole goes, highlighting any potential hazards that otherwise golfers would be unaware of. Some even provide club advice based on your previous rounds, smart notifications directly from your phone and pin pointer technology that allows you to place the pin in the correct location for that day for a more accurate distance.


The main complaint we hear from golfers is that GPS devices vary when it comes to accuracy, two golfers playing the same hole from the same positions using different devices might have slightly different distance readings. Now GPS devices have come on leaps and bounds when it comes to accuracy compared to their predecessors but the simple fact is they just aren't as accurate as a laser. That being said if your the type of player that is looking to take out flags with your approach shots then there really is no substitute for a laser rangefinder.

The only other fault of a GPS device is that it can only be used if the course you intend to play has been mapped. Now given that most GPS devices come preloaded with 30,000+ courses chances are you shouldn't ever have this problem but it is something to be aware of and well worth checking the brands site to see if your local courses have been mapped.

Laser Rangefinders


This one couldn't be more simple, accuracy! Many brands promise accuracy to within a yard, with some claiming even closer. For the better golfer requiring very precise distances a laser rangefinder is a must.

Another tick in the pro box for the laser is that it can be used anywhere. Unlike a GPS device a laser rangefinder doesn't require any course data to work so can be used on any course worldwide.


There is one major sticking point when it comes to laser rangefinders and that is the cost. Although prices have come down in recent times due to the growing market lasers can still require a significant investment. However a good laser rangefinder should last for years to come with the only follow up cost being a new battery every now and again.

We hear this next complaint quite a lot and it's a contentious one. Pace of play, while a GPS device, especially a watch can provide your next shot distance with a simple glance at your wrist, laser rangefinders require a little more effort and if you don't have the steadiest of hands then picking up the flag can take time. If we're honest it should only take 10-15 seconds each time and if you're prepared with your laser while your playing partner takes their shot then it shouldn't affect your round time at all.

The final issue when using a laser and it is only a small one is that it can only give you a distance to things you can see and that the laser can pick up. While a GPS device will provide you with a distance to the front, middle and back of the green and in some cases unforeseen hazards from anywhere on the hole, a laser rangefinder simply can't provide this information.


When it comes down to it, choosing between a GPS device and a laser rangefinder is all down to personal preference. We do tend to find, and this isn't true of every golfer, that the majority of better players specifically low single figure handicappers prefer the accuracy of the laser rangefinder. While mid-high handicap golfers like the advantages a GPS device can offer, in particular the locations of unforeseen hazards. Whichever way you decide to go you can be sure the addition of either technology to your game will only result in greater course management and improved scores.