Golf Rangefinder Vs Hunting Rangefinder: Is There Any Difference?

In this guide we'll compare golf and hunting rangefinders to help you understand how they differ
Phillip Ortiz
Phillip Ortiz
Expert Consultant
Phillip is a professional golf player who knows exactly what features to look for if you need perfect gear. Apart from golf, Phillip is fond of fishing and hunting.
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Suzanne Holley
Suzanne Holley
Research Writer
Suzanne is a talented news reporter. She's also a freelance writer with our site being her major and most loved project. In her free time, Suzanne loves reading utopian nove read more
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If you put a golf rangefinder and a hunting rangefinder next to each other, they appear really similar. Both are a similar size and they both measure distances from your location to a point in the distance – whether that’s a golf flag or a hunting target. Rangefinder technology is quite widespread too. So, when it comes to golf rangefinder vs hunting rangefinder, what exactly is the difference?

An obvious one is the cosmetic difference between golf and hunting rangefinders with golf rangefinders tending to be black while hunting rangefinders will be camouflage – for obvious reasons. Aesthetics aside, do these perform any differently? Or is it possible to use a golf rangefinder for hunting and vice versa? To answer these questions, we’ll examine each rangefinder in detail to see what differences there are, if any.

Golf Rangefinders

When you’re playing golf, knowing how far away from your target is is crucial in how you approach and take your next shot. While golf rangefinders aren’t usually allowed in professional or competitive golf tournaments, using them in friendly matches and practice games is a way of refining your skills for shots at a distance – and they’re pretty easy to use too.

Golf Rangefinder Vs Hunting Rangefinder: Is There Any Difference?Overview

Golf rangefinders Trusted Source How They Work: Golf Rangefinders - GPS & Laser | Professional Golfers Career College The game of golf has evolved quite a bit from the days of Old Tom Morris hitting ‘featherie’ golf balls with hickory sticks in the late 1800s. come in two types: GPS rangefinders and laser rangefinders.

GPS Rangefinders

A GPS rangefinder will come preloaded with data from the golf course. These rangefinders don’t measure the distance between you and a target, instead, you’re told distances between specific targets from the center, back, or front of the green.

A GPS rangefinder works on a satellite Global Positioning System (hence the name) and this system does have limitations. If, for example, there is an obstacle in your way e.g. a large tree, you won’t be able to measure the distance to that place because the device won’t know of its existence.

Laser Rangefinders

A laser golf rangefinder will be more expensive, but it will also not encounter the issues a GPS rangefinder will.

Laser rangefinders don’t need to be pre-programmed. You can simply use one to measure a distance from where you are standing to a target of your choice. The device will tell you how far away you are. For golfers, this information can help you to decide how you’re going to deal with your next shot.

Laser rangefinders have simple mechanics. Essentially, the rangefinder sends a narrow light beam to the target and then works out how long the light takes to return from the target. With a simple calculation, the device can determine how far away you are.

Pros of Golf Rangefinders

Golf rangefinders have many advantages. Firstly, they provide golfers with accurate distances to points of their chosen golf course. Of course, you get what you pay for so better golf rangefinders will be more expensive. You can, however, find great golf rangefinders under $200. That said, they’ll give players more confidence when it comes to choosing a golf club for a shot.

Another advantage is convenience. Rangefinders like this PeakPulse one, for example, aren’t big and bulky, which means they can easily fit into a golf bag or back pocket. GPS rangefinders tend to look more like a phone or watch so they can be put into a pocket easily.

A third advantage to a golf rangefinder is that it can improve the speed of your game. Gone are the days of consulting books and searching for markers to work out the distance! Provided you’re comfortable with how the rangefinder works, it can save you lots of time!

Finally, golf rangefinders allow you to develop your game knowledge. When you have a rangefinder, you’ll be able to work out how far your shots are and use it to build up data on your golf club distances. There’s little point in using a rangefinder to work out a distance if you don’t know the best golf club to choose to get there.

Cons of Golf Rangefinders

While there are plenty of advantages, there aren’t many disadvantages when it comes to golf rangefinders. A disadvantage might be the cost. Top models can cost $500 and a reliable laser rangefinder is likely to be at least $100. If you are on a budget, you can still find a decent golf rangefinder for under $100 though.

Another disadvantage of golf rangefinders is that many of them don’t take slopes into account, which is essential on a hilly golf course!

Hunting Rangefinders

Unless you’re blessed with a bionic eye(!), you’ll find it impossible to calculate the distance by sight. When it comes to short distances, it’s not so difficult to work out how far away a target is, but with longer distances, you become much more inaccurate.

When it comes to hunting, a missed shot can’t be repeated or retaken, which is why many hunters use hunting rangefinders Trusted Source How to Use a Hunting Rangefinder | PRO TIPS by DICK'S Sporting Goods Take the guesswork out of your shot and use these hunting Pro Tips to learn how to use a rangefinder. .

Golf Rangefinder Vs Hunting Rangefinder: Is There Any Difference?Overview

A hunting rangefinder will tell you how far away you are from a target by displaying the yardage on the device. You can get three types of hunting rangefinders. These are:

  • Infrared rangefinders
  • Optical rangefinders
  • Laser rangefinders

The most popular type of hunting rangefinder is the laser rangefinder. These work in exactly the same way as a laser golf rangefinder.

Infrared rangefinders use triangulation to work out how far away an object is. Triangulation detects the angle of the beam and uses this to determine how far away the target is.

Finally, optical rangefinders are monocular devices containing lenses that zoom onto a target to find the pin height and convert this into a distance using a scale built into the device. These are an economical option because they don’t need batteries or charging. While optical rangefinders are a budget-friendly choice, they can struggle in low visibility conditions. For hunting in challenging environments, consider investing in a high-quality thermal monocular like one of the best thermal monoculars to spot prey through brush or at night.

Pros of Hunting Rangefinders

There are many positives when it comes to using a rangefinder for hunting. Firstly, having a rangefinder will mean you’re more likely to hit your target since you’ll know exactly how far away it is. Secondly, they help you with slopes and you’ll be able to use it to get a more accurate distance with the slope considered.

Another reason for choosing a hunting rangefinder is that it eliminates the need to carry binoculars. Rangefinders can give you the same and more information than a pair of binoculars.

Finally, rangefinders for hunting are affordable and there are some to suit almost all budgets like this Leupold laser rangefinder, which is a popular design and style too.

Cons of Hunting Rangefinders

As with golf rangefinders, there aren’t many negatives to hunting rangefinders. As hunting can already be quite expensive though, some people might be put off by the cost. Also, because people tend not to go hunting every day, hunting rangefinders don’t have the best battery life.

Golf vs Hunting Rangefinder: Key Differences

Of course, there are similarities between both types of rangefinders since they are both designed to measure distances to an object whether that’s an animal or a flag. However, each type of rangefinder is designed with specific intentions so there are differences between ones designed for golf and ones designed for hunting.

Firstly, there is a difference in terms of built-in features. You’ll find that golf rangefinders have features specific to playing golf, including pin lock and flag lock. For obvious reasons, you won’t find these on a rangefinder designed for hunting.

When it comes to battery life, you’ll find that golf rangefinders are much better. Hunting rangefinders, however, prioritize portability and weatherproofing. In terms of accuracy, a golf rangefinder will usually be more accurate, but a hunting rangefinder will typically have a longer range.

Final Thoughts

Rangefinders have the purpose of providing accurate distance reading to an object or target and both hunting rangefinders and golf rangefinders are capable of doing this.

If you want to have one rangefinder but use the device for both golf and hunting, you’ll want to bear in mind a few things.

Firstly, consider whether you mind taking a camouflage rangefinder with you when you play golf. While this isn’t a major problem, some people simply won’t want to do this. On the other hand, if you have a golf rangefinder that’s white or brightly colored, you might have difficulty being conspicuous when you’re out hunting.

So, despite several differences between these devices, when it comes to golf rangefinder vs hunting rangefinder, they’re much or a muchness.


How They Work: Golf Rangefinders - GPS & Laser | Professional Golfers Career College
The game of golf has evolved quite a bit from the days of Old Tom Morris hitting ‘featherie’ golf balls with hickory sticks in the late 1800s.
How to Use a Hunting Rangefinder | PRO TIPS by DICK
Take the guesswork out of your shot and use these hunting Pro Tips to learn how to use a rangefinder.
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