how do golf rangefinders work

How Do Golf Rangefinders Work?

Thanks to the new cutting-edge technologies that facilitate the game, golf has never been more fun. Today, golfers are able to find out how far an object is by using golf rangefinders.

So, how do golf rangefinders work?

In this article, we provide you with a quick overview of the different types of golf rangefinders as well as their advantages and disadvantages. We also highlight to you how they work to help you enjoy your game.

What Are Golf Rangefinders?

Golf rangefinders are equipment that can give the exact distance between the golfer and any object on the course. They come in three different types: laser, GPS, and hybrid rangefinders.

What Are Laser Golf Rangefinders?

Laser golf rangefinders allow golfers to perform critical shots through the accurate readings that determine the exact yardage of targets.

Some laser golf rangefinders include internal inclinometers that can measure course slope, as well as maximum and minimum range.

There are also advanced devices that come with various extra features. For instance, some golf rangefinders have pin-seeking capabilities, which make them skip background items to focus only on the pin.

Besides, some models come with magnification lenses to help golfers aim better with their laser beams. Laser golf rangefinders are elegant, waterproof, and shock-resistant, which makes them ideal in any condition.

How Do Laser Golf Rangefinders Work?

A laser golf rangefinder features two apertures. The one on top is the laser emission aperture, and the other is the receiving one.

Here’s how this device calculates distance:

  1. The upper aperture of the device emits a laser beam that reflects on the item you’re aiming to hit.
  2. The rangefinder then calculates the time taken by the laser beam to bounce back to the receiving aperture.
  3. With the resulting data, the laser golf rangefinder measures the distance to the target and displays it on the screen.

What Are GPS Rangefinders?

The second type of golf rangefinders is the Global Positioning System (GPS) type. Unlike the simple laser technology, these devices utilize more sophisticated techniques.

How Do GPS Rangefinders Work?

GPS rangefinders use a network of satellites to measure the distance between the device and a specific point on the golf course.

Some GPS golf rangefinders provide more than just distance; they come with the layout of well-known golf courses pre-installed!

On top of that, GPS rangefinders can display the distances to the front or back, landmarks, or hazards on the course.

Here’s how to measure distance using a GPS rangefinder:

  1. Make sure that the mapping of your golf course is downloaded on the GPS device.
  2. The device receives a signal from several satellites that determine its position and distance from the target.

Laser vs. GPS Rangefinders

If you’re confused and don’t know which type of rangefinder to use, here are the advantages and disadvantages of the two rangefinder technologies.

Advantages of Laser Rangefinders

The most important advantage that laser rangefinders offer is flexibility. These devices can help golfers locate any object and determine its distance with ease.

Another major plus point is that this technology doesn’t require any prior preparation. Unlike GPS devices, you don’t need to download golf course mappings or connect to the internet.

All in all, laser rangefinders are accurate and user-friendly. They’re also convenient with lightweight and sleek designs.

Disadvantages of Laser Rangefinders

Despite their great advantages, laser rangefinders still have some drawbacks. For starters, they don’t work accurately over water or sand. Plus, you’ll find difficulty operating them on rainy days.

Interestingly, according to the USGA rules, you can’t use the slope and elevation calculations given by laser rangefinders in professional or competitive games.

Another downside to using laser rangefinders is that you need a direct line of sight to measure the distance to an object. This makes it hard if there are obstacles such as trees.

Advantages of GPS Rangefinders

Just like laser rangefinders, GPS rangefinders are weather-resistant and user-friendly. In fact, anyone familiar with using a cell phone or a car GPS won’t find any difficulty using them.

One advantage to using GPS is that you don’t need to aim it toward your target or have a direct line of sight to it. Unlike laser devices, GPS can provide you with accurate reading despite having obstacles in the way.

GPS rangefinders provide you with more than distance. They demonstrate information about the size of the course and the obstacles around every pin or lie. They also give you an idea about the different parts of the green.

On top of that, GPS rangefinders can help you plan your shot successfully by pointing out the hazards on the golf course.

In addition to being lightweight and compact, GPS rangefinders may come in the form of wristwatches for hands-free convenience.

Disadvantages of GPS Rangefinders

GPS rangefinders also come with some downsides. For starters, relying on satellites means that these gadgets require steady internet connections, which can be a bit hard at times.

This also means that you need to either rely on the database of golf courses provided by the manufacturer of your device or download the data for your golf course.

On top of all that, some devices may even require paid memberships to access maps.

What Are Hybrid Rangefinders?

If you find it hard to decide between GPS and laser golf rangefinders, you don’t have to choose! Now, you can use a hybrid rangefinder that combines the two technologies.

With the satellite mapping of GPS units and the flexibility of laser technology, hybrid rangefinder units offer you the best of both worlds.


Rangefinders are nifty tools that help golfers measure the distance to objects on the golf course. Nowadays, there are three types of golf rangefinders: laser, GPS, and hybrid.

How do golf rangefinders work? Each type has its own technology that caters to the needs of different golfers. You can also use a hybrid design to get the best of both.

No matter which type you prefer, golf rangefinders will facilitate your game and make it a lot more fun than it already is.



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