Face-off to Tee off:
Golf GPS vs. Golf Laser Rangefinder
If you’re still on the fence between going for a golf GPS or getting your hand on a golf laser rangefinder, don’t worry. You’re not the only one hoping for the perpetual debate on which of the two is better to finally come to conclusion. And while the battle between these distance measuring devices is still raging, you can probably consider some of the things we’ll discuss here to help you understand how and where the two devices differ as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each device. One thing’s for sure, though. Both the GPS and the laser rangefinder have propelled by leaps and bounds the way golfers measure distances to their targets.
Points of Contention
This is undeniably one of the important factors in playing golf. As such, it would help to understand the ways or methods by which the two devices measure distances. A golf GPS basically uses satellites to measure distance. On the other hand, a golf laser rangefinder uses laser waves and the Velocity x Time formula to calculate the distance to the target.
Now, it’s not enough that the device is able to scan the distance. More important than its capacity to measure is its capacity to provide accurate readings fast. Assuming that both devices are of really good quality, there still remain some pros and cons to using a golf GPS and a laser rangefinder.
Laser rangefinders generally measure distances more accurately than golf GPS devices do. However, reading horizontal targets doesn’t come easy with laser rangefinders. You’ll have to aim at a vertical target for it to be able to calculate for the distance. As such, it’s important that you hold a steady aim at your target when measuring distances. Shaky or sweaty hands can cause the device to miscalculate and produce erroneous readings.
A golf GPS, on the other hand, is not just able to measure distance but can also provide other statistics. And unlike the laser rangefinder with which you have to aim at a target, a golf GPS employs satellites to lock the target in position, read for distance, and then display the results on the screen. But while a golf GPS may seem more convenient than a laser rangefinder, a low quality GPS may not be as accurate to the yard as you need it to be.
Another advantage of using golf laser rangefinders is you can practically use it on any golf course. Some models would even factor in slopes when measuring distances. However, using laser rangefinders in crowded golf courses can be quite challenging as obstructions can clutter or obscure the target’s visibility.
Golf GPS devices, on the other hand, require users to download golf course maps. If the course you’re playing on has not been loaded to your device or has not been updated by the manufacturer, you’re likely to have a hard time using it as you’ll be getting inaccurate readings. Nonetheless, if the course is present on your device and is properly updated, playing with it can be a breeze. Most golf GPS devices have more than 20,000 preloaded golf courses and if you’re playing in one, you can easily get instant distance readings without the need to aim at your targets. Some models also come with an auto-hole advance feature.
While most golf laser rangefinders have gained the right to boast about their capacity to provide accurate distance readings, golf GPS devices can boast about the range of functions they can offer their users. Since these devices are compatible with Android or iPhone devices, you can conveniently track your statistics and monitor your performance, and also quickly share your data with other devices.
There are also golf GPS models with voice service features, which allow users to know the distance without the need to look at the screen. Some models also serve as fitness devices that can count your steps or calories burned when you workout. Such functionality of golf GPS devices may be a big plus especially for the tech savvy but may also be too complicated for golfers who are not. So when deciding between the two devices, it can be a choice between simplicity and functionality.
This is another factor that you may want to take into consideration when choosing a device. Some laser rangefinders can be quite bulky and should be kept in your golf bag as you go around the course to keep it from getting damaged. Nonetheless, there are also models that are lightweight, compact and ergonomically designed.
With golf GPS devices, and depending on your preference, you can choose among handheld tablets, wrist watches, or clip-on types.
- Battery Life
Now, this is an area where golf laser rangefinders have a clear advantage over their GPS counterparts. Laser rangefinders have long battery life so you won’t need to recharge it every so often. As long as the equipment is in good condition, you won’t have to worry about it running out of power shortly after a few rounds. Such is not the case with golf GPS devices that require frequent recharging as a charge cycle can only last about two to three rounds.
We’ve covered accuracy, flexibility, functionality, portability and battery life. Now, let’s move on to the next factor that greatly affects a buyer’s decision – the price. High quality golf laser rangefinders, though simple as they may be, can be quite expensive. This is why golf GPS devices, which are generally less costly and offer greater functionality than laser rangefinders, remain to be strong contenders for golfers’ attention and preference. The free GPS apps that you can download to your Android or iPhone devices also add to GPS-enabled golf rangefinders’ attractive cost value.
As with any purchase decision you have to make, it will all boil down to your personal preference and what you value more as a golfer.