Mode of Operation: Golf Rangefinders – Laser & GPS


    As far back as the days of Tom Morris, who hits featherine golf balls using history sticks, back in the 1800s, the game of golf has come a long way. Even though the reason people play the game has not changed, there has been significant improvement in the tools used. Nowadays, golf clubs are made of graphite or steel, and golf clubs come with rubber cores. Besides, golfers now enjoy technology as it helps answer the question: “How far has it gone?”

    Today, we have the golf rangefinder, a state-of-the-art technology that helps calculate distance. Golf rangefinders come in three styles:

    • GPS based range finders
    • Laser range finders
    • Hybrid rangefinders

    We will explore the mode of operation of these rangefinders, alongside the pros and cons.

    GPS Rangefinder

    The Global Positioning System (GPS) rangefinder employs series of satellites to estimate the distance between the object and a specific place on the course. The GPS rangefinder determines the length by collecting signals from a network of satellites that estimate the device’s location and transfers the distance to the target.

    One needs to ensure the course mapping is installed on the device before using a GPS rangefinder for a specific course. There are automatically loaded devices with thousands of courses, while one will need to download others from the website. There are others that can only be accessed by paying a membership fee.

    On loading a course, it will reveal how far it is to the pin on every hole. Others might have additional features like positions of landmarks on the course, distance to hazards, etc.

    GPS rangefinder stands out in that it doesn’t require users to aim at the target. With this, any obstruction will not affect the calculation of the distance. This is not possible with a laser.

    The disadvantage is that users are restricted to what is present in the manufacturer’s database.

    Laser Rangefinder

    This rangefinder employs a laser beam pointed at a target to estimate the distance. A laser will be pointed at the object, which will be transmitted back to the device. The duration it took the laser to reflect the rangefinder helps estimate the distance.

    There are internal inclinometers in some laser types that can calculate the slope of the target area. Others also have what is known as “PinSeeker.” With this, the device can focus entirely on the pin while ignoring everything else around.

    The main pro of this rangefinder is the flexibility with which it allows users to point out any object in its path. Users need not download any course maps, which is essential with GPS type. The accuracy of laser GPS is also higher compared to GPS type. The disadvantage is evident as one needs a direct line of sight which makes measurement hard if there are obstacles like trees on your path.

    Hybrid Rangefinder

    A hybrid rangefinder combines the properties of both devices –  hybrid and laser technology. With this, golf players have access to course mapping using GPS satellite alongside laser targeting flexibility.

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