A golf rangefinder for under $100: What you should and should not expect
Golf rangefinders range in price from well under $100 to several hundred dollars. Importantly, choosing an affordable rangefinder doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality. A budget rangefinder should be just as accurate as a more expensive counterpart. At the end of the day, no rangefinder is worth the cost if you can’t trust the range reading.
That said, you will miss out on some premium features when sticking to budget models. Only a handful of golf laser rangefinders under $100 offer slope angle measurement, for example. This can be a helpful feature if you tend to play on hilly courses where the range to the flag alone might not accurately reflect the club you need.
The quality of the viewfinder lens can also suffer in cheaper rangefinders, although this isn’t a huge problem if you are primarily playing on wide-open courses with a clear view to your target.
Overall, though, you should get most of the functionality you need from a golf rangefinder without paying more than $100.
Features to consider when choosing rangefinder for golf
What should you be looking for when considering golf rangefinder models? There are a number of features that go into the best rangefinders. Here, we’ll explain everything you need to know in order to get the rangefinder that’s right for you.
There’s simply nothing more important to a rangefinder than its accuracy. A rangefinder that doesn’t report ranges consistently and to within a few yards of true isn’t worth your money.
Not all rangefinders are accurate to within the same range, either. Ultra-accurate models like the AOFAR and MiLESEEY rangefinders can report distance to within two feet. Other models could be off by as much as 3.5 feet, although this shouldn’t be enough of a difference to affect your decision-making.
Not all distances ‘play’ the same. If a green is uphill from your current position, you might need a heavier club than if the course were flat. Having a rangefinder that is capable of measuring the slope angle along with distance can be a huge help in these situations.
All of the golf rangefinders we reviewed except for the Gogogo rangefinder come with a slope angle measurement feature.
Modes: Range, scanning, flag acquisition
Golf rangefinders come with several different modes to help you measure distances. The most important mode, which is essentially standard for every rangefinder, is the first target priority mode. In this mode, your rangefinder automatically finds the flag and filters out all the trees and other objects in the background to give you an accurate distance to the hole.
Some golf rangefinders also come with a flag acquisition mode, which is a specialized version of first target priority mode. In this setting, your rangefinder can zero in on the flag pole to yield a faster and more accurate distance reading. Most of the rangefinders we reviewed, including the AOFAR and BOBLOV models, have flag acquisition settings.
Finally, all of the rangefinders we reviewed have a scanning mode. This allows the rangefinder to automatically calculate distances to any object in the viewfinder as you sweep your view over the course. This mode can be very helpful for knowing how far any object is, not just the flag.
In order to lock onto a target, you need to be able to see it. That’s why most modern golf rangefinders offer 6x or 7x magnification in the viewfinder. More magnification is generally better, since it allows you to more clearly and more quickly lock onto the flag – no matter how far away it is.
Size and weight
You’ll be carrying your golf rangefinder with you across all 18 holes. So the lighter and more compact it is, the better. All of the rangefinders we reviewed weigh half a pound or less, so weight isn’t a huge differentiating factor.
But be wary if you find a rangefinder that’s significantly heavier than around six to seven ounces.
Ease of use
If your rangefinder isn’t simple and fast to use, it won’t come out of your golf bag. Make sure that you choose a golf rangefinder that’s simple to set up and can quickly lock onto a target. Having the ability to hold your rangefinder with one hand is nice, and features like vibration when it locks onto a target let you know that you’re getting accurate distances.
Even cheap rangefinders come with some added features. Look for extras like carrying cases to protect your rangefinder when it’s inside your golf bag. Having a warranty on your device can also ensure that you’re protected in case something goes wrong.