How to Use a Golf Rangefinder

Have you ever found yourself on the golf course, unsure of the distance to the pin or hazard, and struggling to make the right club selection? Worry no more, as using a golf rangefinder can revolutionize your game.

With the ability to accurately measure distances, these handy gadgets can take the guesswork out of your shots and help you make more informed decisions on the course.

In this blog post, we will guide you through the different types of golf rangefinders, essential techniques for using them, additional features that can enhance your game, and the etiquette and tournament rules surrounding their use.

Choosing the Right Golf Rangefinder for You

Three laser golf rangefinders

When it comes to golf rangefinders, there are three main types to choose from: laser, GPS, and optical. Each of these options has its own advantages and disadvantages, making it essential to select the right one for your needs and playing style.

Laser rangefinders offer the highest accuracy but come at a higher price point. GPS rangefinders provide a more affordable option, though their accuracy is slightly lower than laser models. Optical rangefinders, while being the least accurate, are the most budget-friendly choice for golfers who want a simple and affordable way to measure distances on the course.

Laser Rangefinders

Laser rangefinders are known for their high accuracy and precision.

They work by projecting a laser beam towards the target. The time it takes for the beam to bounce back to the device is then measured. This time is then utilized to calculate the distance based on the speed of light, before displaying the distance measurement to the user.

To assist golfers in accurately targeting with a rangefinder, many are equipped with up to 7x magnification lenses to provide a clear view of the desired target. Some laser rangefinders even come equipped with a ‘PinSeeker’ ability, which enables the device to precisely focus on the pin rather than any background objects.

Laser rangefinders have become increasingly popular among golfers thanks to their exceptional accuracy and ease of use. To enhance the accuracy of these devices, golf courses are now equipping each flagstick on the course with small reflective pieces, facilitating more precise distance measurement to the hole.

Related – The best laser rangefinder on the market is the Bushnell Pro X3, check out my full review!

GPS Rangefinders

GPS golf rangefinders use satellite technology to determine a golfer’s location on the course. They can also measure distances to objects such as hazards and flags accurately. This makes them an attractive alternative to laser rangefinders. GPS rangefinders rely on pre-loaded maps of golf courses, which can include up to 41,000 golf courses from around the world. Maps have detailed information about the GPS coordinates, location of hazards and other important aspects of the course. This makes them extremely useful for a complete understanding of the terrain.

To get the most out of a GPS golf rangefinder, it’s essential to maintain a strong GPS signal and keep the device updated with the latest maps. This will enable you to get the most accurate readings of target distances and slopes, helping you make better decisions on the course.

GPS rangefinders also come equipped with pin seeking technology, which calculates the distance between the target object and any other obstacles, allowing you to better navigate the course and avoid potential hazards.

Optical Rangefinders

Optical golf rangefinders offer a more affordable option for golfers who want a straightforward and hassle-free way to measure distances on the course. These devices use optics to measure the distance between the golfer and various objects on the golf course. To utilize an optical rangefinder, one should look through the sight and adjust the knobs for clarity.

While optical rangefinders may not provide the same level of accuracy as laser and GPS rangefinders, they can still be a useful tool for golfers who want a simple and budget-friendly option.

Some optical rangefinders also come equipped with a slope calculation feature, which can be helpful for golfers playing on courses with varying terrain. To employ a rangefinder with slope compensation, simply activate slope mode and use the rangefinder as usual, and the device will display an adjusted distance measurement accounting for the slope between you and the target.

Essential Techniques for Using a Golf Rangefinder

To maximize the benefits of your golf rangefinder, there are a few things you should know. This includes properly aiming and focusing, and adjusting for slope when necessary. By honing these skills, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions on the course, leading to improved shot accuracy and overall better performance.

Properly aiming and focusing with your rangefinder is key to obtaining accurate distance measurements. To do this, start by aiming at the ground, then the target, and use the eyepiece to adjust the focus on the target. When measuring distance, simply press the button to start, and the rangefinder will display the distance to the target.

Be careful not to pick up things in the background. It is important to have a general idea of your distance to a pin, and make sure your rangefinder distance is within the range you expected. You might have a tree 15 or 20 yards behind a green for example, you may be picking that up instead of the flag.

Related – Understanding Yardage Markers on the golf course.

If your rangefinder has a slope setting, be sure to use the toggle switch to turn it off during competition play, as some tournaments may not allow for slope compensation.

Aiming and Focusing

Aiming and focusing your golf rangefinder correctly is essential to ensure the most accurate distance measurements. When aiming at your target, start by aiming at the ground first, then direct the rangefinder towards the target. This will help you establish a steady aim and prevent any potential errors caused by shaky hands or an unsteady grip.

You can also use two hands to hold it steady. Or, if you are riding in a cart, I often lean my arms on the steering wheel to help keep me stabilized.

Once you have aimed at the target, use the eyepiece to adjust the focus and obtain a clear view of the target. Many rangefinders come with adjustable diopters or magnification lenses, allowing you to fine-tune the focus and ensure a precise distance reading. Properly focusing on the target is crucial for obtaining accurate distance measurements and making informed decisions on the course.

Adjusting for Slope

Adjusting for slope is an important feature to consider when using a golf rangefinder, as it can significantly impact the accuracy of your distance measurements. Rangefinders with a slope setting can calculate the slope between you and the target, providing an adjusted distance measurement that accounts for the incline or decline of the terrain.

However, if your rangefinder does not have the ability to calculate adjusted distance, you will need to do that yourself.

More Tips and Tricks for your rangefinder

Enhancing Your Game with Golf Rangefinder Features

In addition to the basic functions of measuring distance, golf rangefinders offer a variety of features today that you can take advantage of. The best rangefinders on the market today offer adjusted distances based on the weather conditions, elevation differences from your home course, and pin seeking technology to help you know when you’ve locked onto the flag.

Hazard and Obstacle Identification

Hazard and obstacle identification is another useful feature offered by some golf rangefinders, allowing you to identify potential hazards and obstacles on the course and plan your shots accordingly. This feature can be particularly helpful in navigating unfamiliar courses or when facing challenging shots with multiple hazards in play.

When using a laser rangefinder, you can check the distance to any obstacles that you can see. This can be particularly helpful to figure out how far away a tree is, how far you may need to carry over a pond, or how far away a bunker is.

Golf Rangefinder Etiquette and Tournament Rules

Using a golf rangefinder can be a significant asset to your game, but it’s important to follow proper etiquette and adhere to tournament rules when employing this technology. In this section, we will provide etiquette tips for using a rangefinder and discuss the rules and regulations surrounding their use in tournament play.

Maintaining proper etiquette and abiding by tournament rules not only ensures fair play, but also demonstrates respect for your fellow golfers and the spirit of the game. By familiarizing yourself with these guidelines, you can enjoy the benefits of your golf rangefinder while maintaining the integrity and sportsmanship that define the game of golf.

Etiquette Tips

When using a golf rangefinder, it’s important to be courteous and considerate of your fellow players. Be efficient when measuring distances and avoid taking too long, as this can disrupt the flow of the game and potentially distract other players.

You should also offer to share any distances you measure that may also benefit your buddies on the course. For example, I have a par 3 on my regular course and the first person to shoot the flag from our tee always shares the distance with the group.

By following proper etiquette and being mindful of your actions on the course, you can enjoy the benefits of your rangefinder while maintaining a positive and respectful atmosphere among your fellow golfers.

Tournament Rules and Regulations

Before using your golf rangefinder in a tournament, it’s essential to review the tournament rules and regulations to ensure that the use of rangefinders is permissible. Many tournaments and golf organizations have specific rules regarding the use of rangefinders and their features, such as slope compensation and club selection assistance.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with these rules and regulations before participating in a tournament to avoid any potential penalties or disqualification. By adhering to the rules and using your rangefinder responsibly, you can enjoy the advantages it offers while maintaining the integrity and sportsmanship that underpins the game of golf.

USGA Guide to the Rules of Distance Measuring Devices.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to use a golf rangefinder?

For the best use of a golf rangefinder, first locate the flag or target and then aim your device to the desired spot. Read the range that shows up on the display and adjust your club accordingly.

Additionally, remember to account for any obstacles between the ball and the intended target while making a shot. With proper use of a rangefinder, you can improve your golf accuracy significantly.

Do you aim a range finder at the flag or the hole?

For the most accurate readout, you should aim your rangefinder at the flag or stake when trying to measure distances. Make sure to target the largest part of the object, whether it is a flagstick or one of the red stakes marking a water hazard. This will ensure you get a good lock on the correct target and receive the right measurements.

How do you use a rangefinder at a driving range?

To use a rangefinder at a driving range, simply look through the eyepiece, aim the crosshairs at your target and briefly press the power button. The distance of your targeted object will be displayed.

Should I use a rangefinder at at driving range?

Yes, a laser golf rangefinder will help you when using a driving range. Rangefinders provide an accurate measurement of distance to help you know which club to use for the target distances on the driving range.

In addition, they allow you to practice your shot selection and hone your skills in a controlled environment.


In conclusion, golf rangefinders offer numerous benefits to golfers of all skill levels. By accurately measuring distances, identifying hazards and obstacles, and providing adjusted distances to account for elevation and weather.

Whether you opt for a laser, GPS, or optical rangefinder, it’s crucial to adhere to proper etiquette and tournament rules.

Good luck on the course!

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