Imagine having Steve Williams or Fluff Cowan in your ear telling you the exact distance to that back pin location or how far to carry that dreaded water. Imagine knowing the precise distance to safely clear the wretched fairway bunker right on your line.
It’s never the number you think it is, is it?
Okay, it’s not quite like having someone carrying your bag, but having one of the best golf rangefinders is the only piece of equipment in your bag you can depend on, on every shot.
It’s become an almost essential part of any golfers bag and certainly part of mine.
Below, I’ve identified the best golf rangefinder for 2018 so that you too can hit shots with confidence.
Rangefinders that JUST missed the cut
I own both the Tour V3 and the Tour V4 and it’s easy to see the V4 is much smaller. Picking up the pin is much quicker in the new model. It’s a well-made, sturdy laser rangefinder like all the Bushnells, just much smaller which is good for me because I have small hands (size 23).
In the Patriot Pack you’ll get
In a word, yes. It’s difficult to explain just how different a Bushnell functions to other models unless you’ve used one.
The V4 is so compact, even if you have smaller hands like mine (size 23), you’ll be able to use it very easily.
No other brand can find pins as quickly as a Bushnell. They’re super quick and it’s rare to need to shoot a target 4 or 5 times like other models.
The V4 is water resistant.
There is only one button on the top of the device. You put the rangefinder up to your eye, point at the target, click that button once to switch it on. Then center your target and hold the button down until the distance is displayed. Put it back into your carry case and it will auto-off in half a minute.
No problems for color-blind golfers. The numbers on the display are black. You can also use either the left and right hand to operate the device, totally unhindered.
I wear prescription sunglasses on the golf course and the viewfinder works perfectly pressed up to my lenses.
Running on a CR-2 Lithium battery, the Bushnell V4 lasts between 40 and 50 rounds.
After being so happy with the V3, I decided to pull the trigger on the V4 and have been even happier with the performance so I’ve given the V3 to a friend who was using a Nikon Powershot. He prefers the V3 due to Bushnell’s reliable accuracy and speed. I can whole heartedly recommend both the V3 and Bushnell Tour V4 as one of the best golf rangefinders on the market.
There’s a good reason Bushnell are the forerunners in the race to be the best distance finder manufacturer. Their products are solid and function at the top of the class.
They make the best golf rangefinders for guys who want reliability, quality and efficiency. These things do come at a price and a lot of golfers wonder if it’s worth it. Bushnell’s Pro X2 has a hefty price tag so let’s see why.
This is a big, sturdy and heavy rangefinder. That’s not to say it’s cumbersome though. It’s just a lot different to the Bushnell V4. A waterproof metal casing protects the rangefinder from damage and can be used in wet weather without problems.
You really feel like if you dropped this on a cart path it would still be working perfectly.
As with the newer Bushnells, the Pro X2 features JOLT technology which sends a ‘jolt’ of vibration into your hand once it has locked onto the target and calculated the distance. Coupled with the Pin Seeker technology to scan for a flag, it’s really easy to get your distance.
The Slope-switch allows you to just shift a switch up or down to move between slope and non-slope function. It’s so convenient that it’s almost tempting to cheat in a tournament because no one would know!
Remember you’re not allowed to use the slope compensation feature on your rangefinders in a tournament and the X2 is able to calculate the undulation and give a more accurate true distance reading. The pros will use this feature in practice rounds to prepare for those high pressure situations.
It’s possible to select either the standard black colored text on the display or a red hue by pressing a button on the housing. I’m unsure why though, since red and green are the two most common colors for color-blind guys to mix up. The Stable Grip technology has been included to stabilize our shaky hands for more effective shooting.
Casing is larger in the Pro X2 for more steady shooting of targets
Casing is sturdier and can take more abuse than the V4
Much simpler to switch between slope and non-slope mode in the Pro X2
Pro X2 has the option to change the display to red numbers in addition to black while V4 is only in black text.
No problems for lefties to use the Pro X2 and color blind golfers will want to use the black text on the display and not the
red! You can change between the two easily.
I wear prescription sunglasses on the golf course and the viewfinder works perfectly pressed up to my lenses.
The price is pretty steep (slope joke - har har) on this one so it’s for:
Precision Golf is a little company that’s trying to compete with the big boys to make access to rangefinders more affordable while not skimping on quality.
The NX7 comes with the essentials
If you’ve been spoiled already by using a Bushnell, you’ll notice the plastic and construction of the NX7 feels less ‘high-end’ than a Tour V4. That’s not to say its bad quality though. If the Bushnells are 9/10, the Precision NX7 is 7.5/10 just on how the device feels. It’s the same as a guy complaining that a Srixon Soft Feel feels harder than a Pro V1. Of course, for there’ll be differences for less than half the price.
Right out the box, the rangefinder is ready to go, battery already installed. There are two modes - slop and non-slope and one of the two buttons on the device allows you to switch between the modes easily.
You merely press the green button once without holding it in to switch it on. The cross-hairs come up onto the display and once you line them up to your target, press the button again until you see a ‘+’ sign whereupon you release it and the device vibrates with the distance on display. This is one of the most surprising things about the NX7 Pro - it includes a feature like the vibration which is generally not found at this price point.
With a 6x magnification, the NX7 Pro definitely meets expectations at the upper end. Shooting the pin from 330 yards is easy enough and at the realistic ranges of inside 200 yards, it’s a piece of cake. The distance is given to the nearest 10th of a yard which is very impressive but a bit overkill unless you’re Dustin Johnson.
Finding the distance takes slightly longer than the top range models but in no way is that additional time a deal-breaker. We’re talking a couple seconds more instead of instantaneously.
The NX7 Pro is half the price so does that mean the optics are half as good? Definitely not - the optics are excellent and while not Swarovski-clear, it’s very easy to find your target.
The display of the NX7 is quite busy though and coupled with a 6x magnification, it’s the opposite of minimalist. Is it a deal breaker? Not really just a minor gripe.
Recreational golfers who want a rangefinder that’s not going to wipe the kids’ college fund out will like this product.
No problems for lefties to use the NX7 Pro and color blind golfers will have no issue.
The viewfinder works perfectly pressed up to lenses.
Let’s face it, golf rangefinders are quite pricey but at this price, getting a Precision Golf NX7 is like stealing. The only drawback to this model is it doesn’t have Bushnell-level finishing touches or optics but that’s why it’s priced so well. In the end, it does the same job at a fraction of the price and comparing it to a Bushnell is unfair. It’s top of its class.
It’s an expensive piece of equipment but if you play a lot of golf or golf at a high level and want distances lightning fast then this rangefinder has your name on it. And if you can’t seem to ever stabilize a compact rangefinder over your target using just one hand, the Pro X7 is the one for you.
If I didn’t wear prescription sunglasses on the course, I would prefer this rangefinder - it’s just so easy to use. If you wear glasses too, read below to find out why I don’t recommend it.
When you first pick up the Pro X7, you'll think it’s a pair of binoculars. It’s very bulky but with that bulkiness, comes the ability (no, necessity) to use both hands. This immediately makes it easy to shoot your target instantaneously without the usual swaying of your hand using a compact rangefinder.
The button on the top side is easy to press with either hand and within a split second you have your distance thanks to the ESP (Extreme Speed Precision) technology. It’s the quickest rangefinder I’ve ever tried.
Left handed golfers can easily click the button with their dominant hand to get a reading. Color-blind golfers might have a problem because the display uses bright red text and cross hairs. The red is really bright and glows like an electric alarm clock but if you’re color-blind, I’d stay away from this one.
This is the big downside for me. I wear prescription sunglasses and this is the only rangefinder I have difficulty with. The eye relief on the scope means I need to position the rangefinder perfectly on the lens otherwise half the picture is blacked out.
It’s probably something you could work out and be consistent with eventually but it was a deal breaker for me since I birdwatch and know how annoying it can be with extended eye relief on scopes and binoculars when you wear lenses.
Runs on a CR-2 Lithium battery
The Pro X7 is the easiest rangefinder to keep stable and the quickest I’ve used to shoot the distance. I love holding it with two hands without swaying or needing to shoot the target 3 times to triple check. My major gripe which stopped me purchasing it though, was that using it with prescription lenses was a pain in the ass. If you don’t wear prescription lenses, you’re not color-blind and you are a serious golfer, this is the best golf rangefinder on the market.
In a world of quite high-priced equipment, Breaking 80 have come along with a laser rangefinder a quarter of what you’d expect to pay. And if you’re skeptical about the quality of the product, if you register with them, they offer you a lifetime repair or replace warranty. Lifetime. Let that sink in.
As you can see in this Reddit thread, the owner of the company is deeply involved in Breaking 80. Their customer support is fantastic and with a lifetime warranty and 60 day no questions asked return, it’s hard to beat.
The IS500 has a flag seeking technology to pick up flags easily and displays the distance quickly with a little vibration to alert you it’s finished. Like with most budget golf rangefinders, it’s more difficult to pick up distances from 250+ yards. It does have a very bright LCD screen which is easy on the eye.
When holding a Breaking 80 rangefinder, you can feel it’s not as high-end as expensive models but of course that’s to be expected at a third of the price. In the end, the Breaking 80 IS 500 does the job required and captures distances to whatever target you set it on.
Some people have trouble using it correctly and with the pin seeking technology, you actually need to shoot the distance to the background objects behind the pin and scan back toward the pin. Once the crosshairs scan over the pin, a lower distance reading will pop up and that’s the rangefinder finding the pin. You have a generous 8 seconds to scan and you usually won’t use more than 3 seconds or so.
LOL, the rangefinder itself is bright red so maybe the whole unit is a bit confusing but when looking through the eyepiece, there is no problem. Lefties holding with their left hand won’t prevent the laser from finding the target.
The Breaking 80 poses no problems for eye lense wearers.
Runs on a CR-2 Lithium battery
The lifetime warranty and 60 day money back guarantee is the biggest advantage of this budget golf rangefinder. When an item is low-priced there is always trepidation to buy in case it’s a piece of junk. The Breaking 80 is certainly not a piece of junk and performs the job it’s designed for.
It may not be Usain Bolt, more like Warren Gaitlin, but who wouldn’t mind running a 100 like him? With the aforementioned warranty and guarantee, it’s worth a shot because there’s nothing to lose. Easily one of the best golf rangefinders for value for money.
It’s about the same size as a Bushnell Tour V4 but the CaddyTek CaddyView doesn’t come with the JOLT technology (where the device vibrates when it locks onto the pin) and also comes with a cloth pouch with velcro and not a hard case. But the accuracy of the readings are the same as a Bushnell which means HIGHLY accurate, and fast too!
To get slope function at this price is also a phenomenal deal. Disabling the slope function is easy - just remove and replace the little plate on the side of the device.
But what makes it so good is that it takes no more than 5 seconds to pick up the rangefinder, lock on the flag, get a reading and put the device back. This little golf rangefinder is packed with value. When shooting multiple readings from the same spot, the distances are always within one yard of each other.
The little micro adjuster on the eye-piece works really well to clarify the image when looking through the peephole. Another nice feature when looking through the eye-piece is that the digital display is easier to read than a lot of models even the Bushnells. With 6x magnification, you’ll be able to pick your target up easily.
The digits on the digital display are black and are easy to see against the green background of the course. No problems for lefties here.
The eye relief is very small which means there are no problems with glasses-wearers.
Runs on a CR-2 Lithium battery
Considering you get slope functionality at such a low price in the CaddyView, if you don’t need the vibration when picking up pins and don’t mind a Velcro soft pouch, then this is an excellent rangefinder. Picking up distances is quick and easy especially to bunkers, trees or banks over water. Where the rangefinder loses minor marks comparing to the expensive models is picking up flags, where the Bushnells are really much more proficient. But are these minor things worth the extra money for an expensive model? If I were on a budget, I would say...NO, the CaddyTek is great.
These things get rave reviews but I’m really not sure why. The construction is cheap and very difficult to keep stable to shoot the distance to a pin over 150 yards away. When getting a reading, multiple readings need to be taken to ensure an accurate number but the distances can vary wildly from the same spot.
It’s very well-priced and with so many people online saying it’s fantastic, it might be tempting to get one but I can’t in good conscience recommend this product. For similar money, the Precision Golf Nexus golf rangefinder is much better value.
The most common reason people use golf rangefinders is to calculate the distance to pins but they can perform a few more useful functions to take your game to the next level.
The greatest benefits of a golf rangefinder is the ability to measure distances accurately from one point to another.
Measure your drives: So instead of only measuring distances to the pin, you can also use the rangefinder to determine how long your drives are. What I like to do is pick a tree, or marker or bench in line with the tee box and then once I reach my drive, measure the distance from where my ball is back to the preselected bench, tree, ball washer, concrete marker.
This will help you when you measure a distance to a hazard from the tee and know exactly which club to use. You’ll be able to swing with total confidence knowing that you’ll be safe.
Learn your carry distances at the range: Measure the distances to pins and distance markers on the driving range and then go through your clubs until you find the club that carries to the pin or distance board. We want to know the carry distance and not the roll-out distance.
This will help you when approaching a green when you need to carry a bunker or water. It’s also ESSENTIAL to know your exact distances you hit the ball to achieve lower scores.
When looking through the rangefinder, you’ll see your target, magnified so it’s similar to looking through a monocular. There’s usually a crosshair in the middle of the display that you point onto the target and generally when you press a button on the top of the device, a distance will pop up on the display once the rangefinder has settled on how far you are.
The tricky part comes when you have a pin in front of a row of trees because it can be difficult for the rangefinder to pick up the pin. That's why when looking for a rangefinder it’s always good to find one with a technology that finds the pin and puts the priority on the closer object. That’s why I always recommend rangefinders made exclusively for golf - like all the devices in this list.
This is the big difference between hunting and golf rangefinders. Hunting rangefinders will put the priority on the moving object which is very often behind trees and bushes whereas in golf, the priority is on the item in front of the bushes - the pin.
Rangefinders are incredibly accurate and most of the top professionals use them during their practice rounds to calculate the distances so if it's good enough for guys earning millions per shot it's definitely good enough for us.
The only time it’s difficult to use a rangefinder will be when you can’t see the pin because you’re behind trees in the deep trouble.
GPS watches use satellites to pick up your location in relation to the middle, front or back of the green. You’ll generally only you get a reading to those three points and in some of the higher end models, you’ll get readings to a selection of hazards.
A rangefinder shoots a laser directly toward your target and once it hits the target it sends back the message to give you the exact distance. These distances are accurate to 1 yard and you can select the target yourself, while GPS gives you distances to spots on the course that you have no control over.
So while a GPS will tell you how far it is to a bunker, it doesn’t tell you how far it is to carry the bunker. A rangefinder allows you the freedom to select the target and get multiple customized targets for distances.
Some rangefinders come with a “slope” function which calculates the true distance to the pin taking into account the elevation changes up or down. So an uphill shot might be 170 yards in distance but factoring in the angle of elevation, the true distance might 183 yards. That can make a massive difference to your score if you’re choosing the wrong clubs.
During tournaments, you’re not allowed to use the slope function though. But in general play you may use it so it depends on your goals and what you’re looking to achieve.
If you’re a really good amateur player who plays in national or regional competitions, you can use the slope function during practice rounds to calculate the actual distances based on elevation and take down some notes for your competition rounds.
If you’re a casual golfer who doesn’t play tournaments, the slope function is something you can use all the time. If you play weekend competitions, you can use the slope function in the week and switch it off on weekends. That’s the best part, all golf rangefinders with the slope function give you the ability to switch off the function at any time.
The slope models are a bit more expensive, so there is that to consider.
The next couple of models are designed for hunting and should be avoided. When buying a rangefinder, there’s no need to complicate your life when the equipment is actually meant to make it more convenient.
A golf rangefinder has been designed specifically for golf to pick up targets in front of trees and bushes while hunting rangefinders are designed to pick up targets behind the trees - this is very much not ideal for use on a golf course. Please don’t make yourself struggle unnecessarily.
You might find some sites telling you this is a good option for golf but I disagree and or the same amount of money, a budget golf rangefinder will perform exactly how you need it to.
Great for bow-hunting, bad for pin-hunting. Yes they're cheap but you'll tear your hair out trying to shoot pins with this thing.
Rangefinders used for hunting are often very well priced and may seem appealing at first but once you see the difference between a hunting and a golf rangefinder you'll realize how much better a golf rangefinder works.
As mentioned above hunting range finders give preference to the object in the background such as a deer or a wild boar walking behind bushes and trees while a golf rangefinder gives preference to the object closer in the foreground. That's how they can pick up pins with a row of trees behind them.
Golf rangefinders a suitable for every level of player and there's not a single golfer who won’t benefit from a golf rangefinder.
“I’m not good enough to get one yet”
Some people think you should only get a rangefinder when you hit your clubs consistent distances. I think that’s unfair on the golfer.
No matter what skill level you are, having a range of distances you hit your clubs will help you become a better player. Keeping track in a notebook is helpful over the long term to show you how tight the range between good and bad strikes is.
The key is to understand how far you hit your club MOST OF THE TIME. A lot of golfers will use the distance they hit one ball one time as their benchmark. For example, someone might hit a 7 iron 175 yards once and use that as their 7 iron distance when in reality, they hit the 7 iron 165 yards 80% of the time.
“It slows down play”
Some people think that shooting distances is a laborious process. It’s really not and is very quick and easy.
It takes no more than 5 or 6 seconds to get it out the pouch, shoot the distance and put it back. I usually find the distance while the other guys are still playing. Before arriving at my ball I’ve already looked at the target to select what I want to find distances to.
Most of the rangefinders you see on Tour will be Bushnells. They’re some of the pricier ones on the market in a similar way Titleist is the most expensive golf ball because the pros all use them.
A famous camera and binocular company that have expanded into the golf market. They make really nice rangefinders for golf in the form of the COOLSHOT 20 and 40 models.
You’ll see this name often when looking for a rangefinder but I don’t recommend them. Quality is not as high as other rangefinders on the list above.
Leupold are a very famous optics company for hunting but in terms of golf rangefinders, their products are very high quality but also with a very high price. I haven’t met a single golfer on the course who uses one.
Callaway have dipped their toe into the rangefinder realm and from what I’ve heard, they’re actually made by Nikon.
In the end, I decided to get a Bushnell Tour V4 because my hands are small and the model I really fell in love with, the X7 Pro, didn't work on my sunglasses. I was looking at cheaper models but decided that sometimes it's just better to get a more expensive item especially one that is so important to my game. The Bushnell Tour V3 was my gateway drug into the rangefinder market and I'll never play golf without one again.
Undoubtedly the single best purchase you can make for your game is a great golf rangefinder to help you learn more about your game as well as be more accurate on the course for lower and lower scores. Good luck!