In this guide I’ve complied a quick overview of the best golf rangefinders on the market today. Deciding what is the best golf rangefinder depends on who you are and how to you plan to use a golf range finder.
To help you, I’ve put together this guide of the main uses for golf range finders and my top picks, based on your needs.
If you want to jump to a particular review just click on the quick links below – Enjoy.
The best range finder review
Best golf range finder – Bushnell Pro X2
Best budget golf range finder – TecTecTec V PRO 500
Best compact range finder – Precision Golf NX7 Pro
Best range finder with GPS unit – Garmin Approach Z80
Ps – You can click on the titles or buttons to check prices on Amazon. These are affiliate links. If you click and purchase the product it does not cost you any extra, but I do earn a small commission. Please feel free not to use the links if you wish. Thanks and happy golfing, Will.
Best golf range finder – Bushnell Pro X2 Laser Rangefinder
If money isn’t a deciding factor then, in my opinion, the Bushnell Pro X2 is the best golf range finder on the market. It has taken all of the best previous Bushnell features and put them into one product.
This is the range finder preferred by most caddies and players on the US and European Tours. The reason is probably due to Bushnell guaranteeing the X2 laser finder has only 1/2 yard of error between 5 – 450 yards. Whereas all other range finders advertise ±1 yard tolerance. But it also offers the easiest and quickest pin-seeker technology on the market.
It offers 6x magnification (compared to most models 5x). This will really help you pick out the flag from a distance. This clear view combined with it’s jolt technology, that vibrates when it has picked up the flag, make this range finder possibly the easiest to use on the market.
As much as you pay a premium for Bushnell’s pin-seeker technology, it is still the easiest golf range finder to use, particularly if you have reduced vision, or are concerned with how still you have to keep the device.
Top range finder tip: You don’t have to hold the cross-hares arrow straight on the flag. Instead, hold down the laser button and wave the cross-hares around the top of the flag – the tech will do the rest.
Additional features include: switching between red or black visual display and the ability to toggle between pin-seeker and scanning mode at the press of a button. You also have the option to turn slope on/off to make your range finder compliant for any tournament. It is also water-proof and comes with a 2-year warranty.
The Bushnell Pro X2 is the the top of the range sole-use range finder, but it works great.
Pros – The most accurate ranger finder on the market, clear display, zoom and jolt technology. The use of slope technology can be toggled on/off and it has an excellent build quality.
Cons – The only fault I can find is with the case. I loved the magnetic case of the Bushnell V2. This rangefinder case more modern, but I’m a sticker for the old magnetic, snap cases.
Best (affordable) golf range finder – TecTecTec V PRO 500
TecTecTec are the new boys on the range finder scene. I hadn’t come across them until recently (in the UK), but they sure have built an impressive range finder for the money. At the time of writing this review the TecTecTec V Pro 500 range finder has racked up over 1,800 5-star reviews on Amazon U.S. (total of 2,700 reviews) and is going a similar way in the U.K.
In tests with the Bushnell X2 (above) the TecTecTec V-Pro 500 produces identical results 60% of the time and is nearly always within 1 yard of the Bushnell. This minor difference may very well be down to the Bushnell’s 1/2 yard tolerance versus TecTecTec’s tolerance of one yard. The TecTecTec V-PRO 500 offers this one-yard tolerance up to a range of 540 yards (which I think is far enough for all of us…).
Just like the Bushnell, this range finder also comes with Pin-sensor technology and 6x optical zoom. However, I would say that this technology is not quite as refined as the Bushnell X2. Sometimes it does take a little more work to lock onto the flag.
What sealed the TecTecTec V-Pro 500 winning most affordable range finder is their 60-day money back guarantee. It’s quite tough to argue with a product that is half the price of the industry’s leader, does almost the same job and will offer a free return and money back guarantee up to 8-weeks after purchasing.
Pros – The major role of any range finder is to tell you how far it is to the flag. The TecTecTec produces the results for less than 50% of the cost of the Bushnell Pro X2.
Cons – The pin-sensor technology isn’t quite as refined as the Bushnell. It may take a couple more waves over the flag stick in certain light conditions.
Best compact range finder with slope – Precision Pro Golf NX7 Pro Laser Rangefinder
The Precision Pro Golf NX7 Pro Laser rangefinder offers all the tech of a range finder into a very compact device. It offers adaptive slope technology (which can be toggled on / off) and a pin-seeker mode that vibrates the device when it is locked on.
The device is Water Resistant, shock proof and comes in a robust carry case. It also offers two-years warranty. All of this comes to you with a considerable saving on the cost of a Bushnell X-2.
What is the difference between a Precision Pro Golf NX7 Pro Laser Rangefinder and the Bushnell? Well 1/2 a yard in accuracy and a brand name. If you’re fine with this trade-off this is a great choice.
If you’ve never had a range finder before, this is a great product. If you need to replace a worn-out Bushnell range finder then, be warned this doesn’t quite hit Bushnell’s top spec, but it really isn’t far off.
Pros – Offers all of the tech for less. If you don’t mind having a lesser brand, and a slight loss on precision (1/2 yard), this will save you some extra cash to spend elsewhere.
Cons – This device doesn’t quite feel as classy at the Bushnell’s, but I can’t really fault it for the price.
Best range finder with GPS unit – Garmin Approach Z80
If you’re in the market for a golf range finder and GPS system, then the Garmin Approach Z80 has got your back. As the image above shows this incredible device merges the two technologies of ranger finder and GPS.
The result is a futuristic over-lay. This range finder gives you the distance to the flag, front and back of the green. It also provides a visual on the left of your display showing how far onto the green the flag is located.
Garmin boast that this range finder offers unparalleled accuracy with less than one-foot of error to the flag from inside 350-yards (320 metres). This technology offers full colour 2-D CourseView mapping on the viewfinder for more than 41,000 courses worldwide.
It also includes slope technology and a whole host of other tech options to help you out on the golf course. There is so much going on you are best to watch the video below to explain it all.
All in all this range finder has some great tech. Why hasn’t it made it as the best golf range finder in this review?
Two reasons – price and faff (and some report of glitches from customers).
It costs less than buying a separate GPS and range finder, but not by a lot. Secondly there are a few extra issues with software updates. Some customers have reported issues with updating the software, but this is not an issue we have experienced.
There is no on-going fee for updating your course information. Garmin update their data-base at least twice a year, and even have course requesting options and manual indexing. This is a heck of a device and probably the future of golf range finders.
Pros – If you really can’t decide between a golf range finder or GPS unit get this. If you are a keen tournament player, who is on the road, this will also serve you well. The distances to flag, front, back all combined will really help your strategy.
Cons – The Garmin Approach Z80 does require a little extra maintenance, mainly software updates. The additional computing does mean you will be charging it more than a traditional range finder.
Best uses for a golf range finder
Golf range finders can be used in two ways – to optimise your practice and to help you shoot the lowest scores possible on the golf course. Many golfers over-look the use of golf range finders in practice. However a good golf range finder allows you to master your pitching, work out your club distances and provide more detailed feedback on your long game.
When playing I find golf range finders have two main uses:
- Scan distance to trees, bunkers and hazards off the tee.
- Dial in on the distance to the flag from 30- 270 yards.
The first use requires a rough guess – I want to know if it’s 220 or 240 yards to the trees at the far or near side of a dog-leg. Or a gauge of how far it is to a menacing bunker off the tee. In this instance, golf range finders won’t give you a perfect number, but personally I don’t feel this matters as much as point two.
The second use is where a great golf range laser finder comes into its own. When I’m 200 – 60 yards away I find a great range finder invaluable. From this distance I really want to know the difference between 138 or 142 yards.
I know that may sound trivial, but that 4-yard difference leads to an additional 12-feet on any putt I leave myself. I don’t know about you, but I much prefer an 8-footer than a 20-footer for birdie 😉
Golf range finder versus GPS tools
This brings us onto the next question – should you buy a golf range finder or a GPS system. If you are more after use one then I’d suggest a GPS range finder. However, if you’re in between uses, you favour use two, or you are really keen to become a great golfer I would sincerely suggest you buy a golf range finder. Want both? Check out the Garmin Approach Z80.
Golf Rangefinders Buyer’s Guide
Before making the choice on the best rangefinder for your needs, check the ‘best uses for a range finder’ section.
Then decide the range and accuracy, shape, size and weight, magnification that best suits you. Ideally, you want a rangefinder with a long range, a high accuracy level, and high magnification; the trade-off tends to be cost.
How do range finders work?
All rangefinders work in the same way. They project a laser beam out and wait to see how long it takes to bounce back onto the receiver. This is a surprisingly accurate way to measure distance (the speed of light is quite constant 😉 ).
No rangefinder is perfectly accurate. The standard level of accuracy ranges from half a yard to a couple of yards. If you find a rangefinder with more than 3 yards of accuracy, don’t buy it.
The slope function is used to measure any elevation change between you and your target. Slope estimates actual distance to a target and the distance a shot will play – It accounts for playing up and down hills.
This feature can be useful when you are practicing or playing. But remember, this feature is not allowed in (most) competitions. All rangefinders featured in this review that have slope technology feature a ‘slope off’ setting. Make sure the slope function is disabled when using your rangefinder in competitions.
Ease of use
If you’ve never used a rangefinder before you may need a round to get used to using them. There are two components that take a little work.
- Getting use to the eye-viewer. Some work best with your eye place onto the optic. Others require your eye to be a small distance away (1/4 inch). This varies a little between model, but all range finders featured here are very easy to use.
- The second issue is picking up your target. If you’re new to rangefinders this may seem tricky, however in practice it is simple. No need for steady hands, just wave the cross-hair around the flagstick and it will do its best to find your target. This is covered more in-depth in the next section.
Target finder, Pinhunter & Pinseeker technology
Majority of rangefinder models today have the ability to separate background objects from forefront objects.
It means the rangefinder will show you the closets object should you be aiming for a flag located behind trees in the course. The technology is designed to enable the device to effectively differentiate flags and pins from other objects on the green.
Different manufacturers will have different names for this technology including first target-tracker, pinhunter, and pinseeker. When the closest target has been locked on the display, some models will give a visual cue, vibration or sound.
Golf rangefinders will vary in magnification. Generally, the range is between zero magnification and 7X magnification.
Higher levels of magnification allows you to lock on to your target easier. As such, devices with high magnifications are easier to use as they are able to hit a target faster and more effectively. Aim to buy a rangefinder with the highest magnification. This will ensure they are easy to use.
All rangefinders are designed to be used with one hand. If you feel two hands may help you keep the device more stable than buy a slightly bigger rangefinder.
Take note that a large rangefinder is likely to be heavier. Make sure you balance the size with weight to get the best fit for your needs.
Scan mode is available in most models. It allows you to get the distance of targets as you hold down the laser and scan across the landscape. The feature is useful when trying to locate targets such as bunker or trees off the tee. It is less useful as you approach the green.
This refers to the ability to get readings clearly on your screen. The Garmin Z-80 certainly has the best visual view, with the GPS and rangefinder combo (shown below).
However, all rangefinders featured have very good clarity. The Bushnell X2 also provides the option to change the numerical display from black to red, which may prove useful when there is a lot of sun glare.
Price is a big factor when choosing a rangefinder. In humble opinion the TecTecTec V PRO 500 is the cheapest rangefinder on the market that works. It still provides accurate data and a robust rangefinder.
As you go up in price you gain a few extra snazzy features and a little bit of usability. The Bushnell in particular is a very easy rangefinder to use. If money isn’t an issue, and you’re a golfing geek, grab a Garmin. The only factor to consider is the shortened battery life with it operating GPS and laser tech – so make sure you keep a battery spare.
Most range finders need a new battery around every 6 – 12 months. This mainly depends of use (how many rounds do you play a week), length of time between playing (batteries degrade over time without use) and weather conditions. In England I tend to notice them die a little quicker during cold patches.
Golf range finder – summary
That concludes our top picks of the best golf range finders on the market. If you would like more helpful articles to help lower your scores, sign up for the golf insider weekly post – An article sent straight to your inbox every Monday full of great advice to improve your golf game.
Happy Golfing – Will @ Golf Insider