What to Look for When Buying a Golf Rangefinder? For Beginners and Professional

How do you manage a birdie while I always fly the green or settle for duff? Andrew, my friend, shot that question at me. A single glance at his rangefinder gave me the answer to his question. Although he didn’t say it, his red face told me that he needed to know what to look for when buying a golf rangefinder.

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What to Look for When Buying a Golf Rangefinder? For Beginners and Professional

So, I decided to extend the favor! Deep down, I knew Andrew represented a bunch of other golf enthusiasts facing the same problem.

Of course, I wasn’t born on a golf course, or nearby for that matter. My vast knowledge in the subject is a culmination of hard work and dedication. In my long golfing career, spanning over 30 years, I have had a fair share of disappointments due to floppy golf rangefinders.

This guide combines personal views, professional opinions, and vast research. In a jiffy, I present the tincture to golfing prowess.

What to look for when buying a golf rangefinder?


Accuracy determines how many strokes you take per round. Ask yourself, how accurate is the gadget? You pick the wrong product; you get the wrong results. Of course, accuracy requires minimal elaboration. What is the right error margin? This should be your first question.

Although most manufacturers claim to offer an accuracy of +-1 yard, I choose to differ. Don’t just throw caution to the wind and assume you got the right product. You have to test the accuracy, even when the manufacturer clearly indicates it.

Ensure the rangefinder offers accurate measurements. You also have to check how effective and fast it measures the distance. Accurate measure measurements also guarantee more birdies and greens. However, less-accurate rangefinders give bad scores.

If you land on a less accurate rangefinder, take the noble step of returning it!

Slope Reading

This isn’t always a compulsory requirement. First, decide whether you want a rangefinder with slope or not. Although it might not always be a must, slope reading is a crucial aspect. It would mean the difference between accurate and poor shots.

What’s the benefit of this feature? Well, it measures changes in elevation between the target the player then uses it to calculate the actual and horizontal distances. Although not allowed in professional golfing, this feature could be quite helpful.

Even for the same manufacturer, one model could have the slope reading while the other doesn’t. For that reason, get details of each device before purchasing. Slope reading is perfect for anyone who does not plan to use the device in competitions

The Display Screen

How easy can you read the information? This is a crucial consideration. Rangefinders come with different display screens. From a personal perspective, I find devices with red numbers easier to read. Unfortunately, this feature shoots the price higher.

Of course, spending a few extra bucks for easier reading won’t hurt, will it? Besides looking at your target through the lens, you’ll also look into the display screen. The most appropriate screens need crystal clear graphics-of course blurred ones suck!

Not only should the screen show the distance, but it should also indicate the battery percentage. The display could also include crosshairs for easy locking of the target. With poor display, expect equally poor results.

Level of Magnification

Don’t take this feature lightly. It greatly affects the effectiveness of your shots. Laser rangefinders differ in magnification. They boast from 0 to 7X magnification. Obviously, higher magnification results in a more unobstructed view. With a clear view, one easily hits the correct target.

Although most rangefinders offer a 6X magnification, paying more for a 7X gadget shouldn’t feel like much. Perfect magnification brings the target closer for more accurate shots.

Battery Life

Longer battery life is always a plus when buying a golf rangefinder. Different brands differ in power consumption and, consequently, their battery life. How long the battery survives depends on two factors. First is the rate at which the device consumes power. The second factor depends on the overall battery capacity.

Mostly, rangefinders last a whopping 8 to 10 hours. However, some may last lesser time than this. When you come across a rangefinder requiring battery replacement after every two hours, better return it.

Stabilization / Scan mode

Sometimes, capturing a target from a far distance poses quite a challenge. This mostly happens to people with shaky hands. So, how do you solve this? Well, some rangefinders have a stabilization mode to solve this situation.

What does the stabilization technology do? It helps in tracking and connecting the laser to the target. Other rangefinders come with a continuous scan mode. The scan mode continuously fires at the target until you capture it. This way, it solves shakiness.

In most cases, rangefinders come with the scan mode turned off. For that reason, ensure you switch it on when the need arises.

Size and weight

These two features may not appear crucial but trust me, they are! Something too small may pose a challenge for anyone wishing to use both hands for stability. Of course, two hands enhance stability. For that reason, I recommend a wide model.

How about the weight? While wide rangefinders offer easy handling, they are less portable. For that reason, you need a compromise between the two parameters. Going for a compact, but not too small, gadget solves the problem.

The weight also affects handling and portability. Pick an ultra-light model as well. Lightweight rangefinders work perfectly for other outdoor activities like hunting as well.

Maximum and Minimum Range

While the range may not be a crucial factor, it makes part of what to look for when buying a golf rangefinder. Generally, most gadgets deliver measurements, even beyond the target. For that reason, one may not need to worry about the minimum and maximum range.

Despite it being a less important factor, we can’t give each manufacturer a clean bill of health. For that reason, you still have to check the minimum and maximum ranges.

Ease of use

We all recall that first time our parents bought us bikes. You remember all the excitement that came with this new badass. Unfortunately, most of us didn’t know how to ride the bikes on the first day. Despite all the excitement, the bikes were useless to us at that time.

Rangefinders are exactly like that first bike when you can’t use them. You don’t want to keep seeking assistance all the time, do you? Pestering others with your faulty and complicated rangefinder sucks, no doubt!

Experienced golfers will use pretty much all the latest rangefinders on the market. If you are a beginner, consider a model which offers ease of use. They are many, so there’s no cause for alarm.

Different “Priorities”

When addressing the priority, we consider how the rangefinder detects targets. Some recognize the first object they come across. The ones which identify the first object are referred to as “first priority” golf rangefinders.

On the other hand, we have those golf rangefinders which detect the background objects behind the target while ignoring the target. These ones are referred to as “second priority” rangefinders. So, how do the two types affect your efficiency?

  • First priority mode: The first priority rangefinders work perfectly in areas with no obstructions. When used in a field with trees, they may not offer the best results. They are, for example, used in golfing and construction. This is because, in golf, there’s only the player and the target.
  • Second Priority mode: This mode ignores the items on the front and focuses on the target behind. It might be perfect for hunters where they come across trees and other obstructions.

Most advanced golf rangefinders offer interchangeability between the two modes. This way, they are perfect for all the different scenarios.


The material used in the making of a golf rangefinder determines several factors. For instance, low-quality materials break easily, therefore, making it less durable. In contrast, sturdy and durable materials offer long-lasting service.

A rugged outer material also reduces the chances of your rangefinder slipping off your hands.


You don’t want to spend too much on a single golf rangefinder, do you? The prices of rangefinders differ. Few models go for less than $100. However, a standard golf rangefinder goes for between $100 and $150. However, as the prices exceed $200, the features also become better.

In Summary

You’re now aware of what to look for when buying a golf rangefinder. However, owning one of these devices isn’t enough to make a successful golfer. We have more tips in store for you. Stick around, and by the time we’re done, you will be a pro.

Until next time, bye!

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Last Updated on December 4, 2023 by Paul Roger Steinberg