Golf GPS vs Rangefinder. Let’s get you pin hunting today!

Golf GPS vs Rangefinder

The Golf GPS vs Rangefinder debate has grown over recent years. Although it is essentially a personal preference we thought we would get to the bottom of it once and for all. If you are looking for an extensive breakdown of how a rangefinder works, start here. This post will be a comparison between the two distance locators.

GPS Devices

GPS devices are small, handheld devices that use satellite technology to determine your location on the course. They can provide a variety of information, including the distance to the front, middle, and back of the green. They are also able to provide distances to hazards and other points on the course.

One of the biggest advantages of a GPS device is the ability to see the entire hole layout. This can be particularly useful on unfamiliar courses or when playing a new hole. GPS devices also have the ability to measure distances to any point on the course, not just the front, middle, and back of the greens.

Functions of a GPS

Satellite GPS

One key difference between the golf rangefinder and the GPS, is the fact that the GPS uses satellites to find the distances. This can have it benefits in that it allows you to see the distances for the whole hole if the pin is not in sight. In contrast if the GPS is having issues reading your location your distances may be off.

Display screen

The display screen is a major benefit of the GPS. Depending on the model of GPS will decide which features you have but access to statistics such as, a display of the course layout, wind speed, slope, club choice and plays like to mention a few.

Not exact yardages to pin

Most GPS devices work on a front, middle and back system. This can can great when you are looking to hit those targets but when you are not sure the position of the pin or you are looking for an exact distances this can be an issue.

Course needs to be on the GPS

Although this is rarely the case, if the course you are playing is not registered on your GPS system pretty much means that you can’t use it at this course. With nearly every course logged I wouldn’t worry too much but it can be a problem.

Different forms

GPS devices come in many shapes and formats depending on your style. Firstly, there is the watch option. Most smart watches have a golf option or app you can download to have your GPS on your wrist. There is the handheld option, this is made specially for golf and can rest in your pocket or even clip to your cart for easy accessibility. Finally, there the mobile phone option, there a multitude of apps now available to use as a GPS. Most of these actually come with a range of features including scoring, wind speed and training ideas.


Rangefinders use laser technology to measure distance. They are small, handheld devices that can provide precise measurements to the flagstick or other points on the course. Rangefinders are generally more accurate than GPS devices, and can provide measurements to within a yard or less.

One of the biggest advantages of a rangefinder is the ability to get precise measurements to the flagstick. This can be particularly useful when trying to hit a specific target or when trying to avoid hazards. Rangefinders are also able to provide measurements to any point on the course, not just the front, middle, and back of the greens.

Functions of a Rangefinder


Unlike the GPS the rangefinder accuracy is usually within 0.5ft-2ft of the target. The ability to point at your target, lock on and bam allows for a much more accurate distance reading than having to rely on a satellite in the sky.

Used on any course

No matter what course you are playing on you will be able to take your range finder, be aware they can’t be used in some competitions. Since there is no need to download an app to get a reading it allows for use on any course.

Can choose your target distance

A key feature of the rangefinder is the ability to lock on to any target. Some GPS devices on give you a distance to the hole with a rangefinder you have the ability to lock on to a hazard, tree or pin from where you are and get an accurate reading without having to do any quick math.

Pace of play

A disadvantage of the rangefinder is the speed of play. Since you have to get the finder out, lock onto your target in contrast to looking down at your screen to get a quick reading it can slow down the speed of play.

Shaky hands

Another common issue with rangefinders is for the non-surgeons out there with the shaky hands. When trying to lock onto a target some rangefinders can make it difficult if you are not able to stabilize yourself.

How to use a rangefinder?

Source: Weplaygolf

Golf GPS vs Rangefinder: Head to head


This one goes to the rangefinder. Having the ability to lock onto your target from where you are to get a reading within 0.5ft-2ft is a clear winner.


This round goes to the GPS. With the GPS essentially being always on you can already start to get a reading as you are approaching your ball then finalize once you are there. In contrast to only begin to get your reading at the ball, locking on the target and getting your reading. Not a huge difference but GPS wins.


Draw. This once comes down to preference. If you are tech savvy you would lean to the GPS but if you want a simple click and read you would be better off with the rangefinder.

Course Management

Round 4 goes to.. GPS. GPS devices have the advantage of providing hole layout, wind speed, plays like data, distances, club selection and slope to name a few. While some rangefinders do have similar data, the GPS is better overall for cou


In conclusion, whether you choose a GPS device or a rangefinder, it ultimately comes down to personal preference and your specific needs as a golfer. If you’re looking for a device that can provide hole layout and distances to any point on the course, a GPS device might be the better option. However, if you’re looking for a device that can provide precise measurements to the flagstick, a rangefinder might be the better choice.

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