A rangefinder is made for one function and that is to tell you the distance from you, to the flag. Sometimes you want to use it for the bunker lip, or carrying the water. It's become such an essential piece of gear, I often wonder how I played golf without one.
There's so much confusion out there about golf rangefinders and truly in this area of the game, you really get what you pay for. I've tried every single one of the laser rangefinders on this page myself through and I can say these are the best golf rangefinders on the market. I use the Bushnell Tour V5 most often.
Best Golf Rangefinders 2023
- Bushnell Tour Pro XE (the best of the best)
- Bushnell Tour V5 (best optics and size combination)
- Nikon Coolshot Pro II Stabilized (best value optics)
- Precision Pro NX9 HD (best affordable golf rangefinder)
- Precision Pro NX7 (best budget golf rangefinder)
- Garmin Approach Z82 (best features and tech in rangefinders)
The best golf Rangefinder ever made
The top of the line golf rangefinder from Bushnell, the Pro XE is the very best rangefinder I've ever seen or used or experienced.
The prior model X2 was a bit lighter than this big piece of gear. But the Bushnell XE is the most accurate and quick golf rangefinder I have ever had the pleasure of using. My caddie, Bret, at Pebble Beach had one of these bad boys and I had to try it out all round long. They give the most accurate distances of all rangefinders.
It's vividly clear when looking through the viewfinder if you do not wear lenses over your eyes. I noticed Bret would shift his sunnies onto his forehead when he used it. I had to do the same but it was really so quick to shoot a distance to a pin. What's even crazier is that is takes into account temperature and barometric pressure to give you a 'feels like' distance on top of the slope reading.
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 is top of the crop. It's trusted by the tour pros who work in fractions of a yard. There are so many new features that yes, if you are a serious golfer, use a cart, need full info in split seconds, you can rest easy with one of these.
Overall, his device is not made for the beginner. If you’re breaking 80 regularly and looking at the low 70s more often, this will be the best rangefinder for you. If you're playing regional and national events, it's a must.
- Waterproof: The XE is totally waterproof
- Magnification: 7x is the highest I’ve encountered with an eyepiece that extends and retracts like binoculars by turning the eyepiece
- Accuracy: Quick and reliable distances to the yard perfect
- Display: Bright red display and includes so much info to make a decision. The pulsing red ring also ensures you know when it's locked onto the target.
- Storage is easy: The rubber case makes it waterproof and with the magnet inside, you can just put it on a piece of metal on the cart for storage.
- JOLT: It will send a jolt of vibration into your hand once it captures the distance
- Slope function: It has slope function you can easily switch between.
- Barometric pressure and temperature slope readings: It accounts for these when calculating the reading for the slope function!
- The Pro XE is the easiest laser 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.
I own all three of the Tour V3, Tour V4 Shift and now the Tour V5. 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).
Bushnell Tour V5 Shift Laser Rangefinder Bushnell is the quintessential rangefinder in golf and each year they seem improve the prior model which is scary. The Bushnell Tour V5 shift is better than the V4 which was a huge hit with golfers.
Overall the Bushnell Tour V5 shift is a great upgrade from the V4, especially when it comes to the screen - visually clearer and more vivid. The slope function is even sharper in this model meaning you get accurate distances. You'll get very few things wrong with this little machine. 99% of PGA Tour pros use Bushnell. They're the best of the best and trust Bushnell to get them over the finish line.
- 6x magnification this has increased from 5x in the prior V4
- Compact design. Very easy to fit in hands even as small as mine
- Visual jolt technology. Vibrating pulses and a flashing red ring to confirm that you’re locked on to the flagstick.
- True “play as distance.” With its new slope algorithm you now get even better accuracy to account for uphill and downhill shots.
- More clarity than the V4. Magnification, color, and more definition when you hit any target.
- Bite magnetic cart mount. You can easily attach this device to a cart for easy transport without spending money on additional accessories.
- Bushnell golf app included for even more information. This smartphone app will show you 3D flyovers, hole layouts with distances and has over 36,000 courses available!
- Two-year warranty, battery, and hard cover carrying case included.
Cost It’s a larger investment for some players so make sure you double-check every round so you don’t accidentally leave it in your golf cart.
Tour V5 Edition (Non-slope) If you don’t need slope features and want to save a few bucks, grab the Tour V5 edition instead. It has all the same features as the V5 Shift, except it doesn’t provide a “Play as” distance for uphill and downhill shots. But you still get the 6X magnification, jolt technology, accessories, and everything else.
The best optics from a top optic manufacturer
Nikon make no other golf products worth talking about except this rangefinder. The focus in this rangefinder is in the stabilization for steadier measurements. it can be a pain to lock onto a target when your hands are not super steady with most rangefinders.
With the Nikon Coolshot Pro, the stabilization is built into the design. You get extra help locking onto the target because of a contrasting background on the OLED display. You can hit the [in much easier even if you have something behind the pin distracting your rangefinder.
I got to use this rangefinder with Pro Mo on my channel. His sister, Bo uses it and it does a great job. It's a much easier to use upgrade from the prior model which to be honest did not have the best bullseye or crosshair to hit the pin with.
The new model Nikon Coolshot Pro is much more stable in the hands and provides readings first time instead of having to shoot it 2 or 3 times.
- Brightness levels of the viewfinder can be adjusted
- Slope function which is turned on and off easily
- Stabilization is the priority which is unique compared to every other model focusing on jacking up the feature combo
- Weather resistant This can be used in every weather you can imagine
- Only one color. I love the color scheme but some may not
Top Value Golf Rangefinder
The Precision Pro NX9 is an excellent trade off between price and quality. You get one of the best golf rangefinders that does the job without the excessive price tag.
The Precision Pro NX9 did great when I compared it to my Bushnell V5 which compared well to Bret's Bushnell XE I mentioned above at Pebble Beach. One of my subscribers in Arizona let me use the NX9 for a round after my battery died in the Bushnell.
That round in Arizona with the NX9 was the first time I saw someone putting the magnetic laser rangefinder onto the cart. I don't play cart golf much in Thailand so rangefinders are kept in the bag or with the caddy. Luckily the colors are also bright so you never have to look for your rangefinder when it is on the cart.
The optics and feel are not as premium as the Bushnell of course, because the price tag is significantly lower but the Precision Pro delivered my accurate distances compared to the Bushnell (+/- 1 yard) and it was the quickest in the value category. The only competitor I found similar in quality and speed is the Inesis Tour 900.
- Pulse vibration technology. The device will send a short vibration to confirm that you hit the flag
- LCD Display & 6X magnification. The stated max distance is 400 yards and the screen is clear but you will not hit targets beyond 280 yards with ease.
- Slope functionality. With just a click, the golf laser rangefinder will calculate the distance that the shot really plays based on how much or little elevation there is between you and the flag.
- Magnet cart mount and grip. There is a magnetic grip and cart mount so that you can stick it on the metal surface on the cart when you play. But be warned, you will forget it on the cart so remind yourself every round to check for the rangefinder before going home.
- Style and look. The bright colors are sleek and stand out enough so you don't actually forget it on the cart!
- Carry case, battery. The device comes with a decent Bushnell style case and a battery.
- Precision Care Package. Precision Pro gives you a 90-day money-back guarantee, two-year warranty, and free lifetime battery replacement. If you want to trade in for an upgrade they take it in for a decent credit.
- For this price, nothing
It's tough to create products that compete in a part of the market that requires high end features and function. It's even tougher to race to the bottom on price. The NX7 from Precision Pro is a good example of what can be done, within limits, to provide a decent enough laser rangefinder without breaking the bank.
It's what I would call a decent rangefinder. I'm not going to rave it about it like it's the second coming of Bushnell. It's not as fast, as easy to lock onto pins, and the vibration function doesn't feel as 'Steve Jobs" as the Bushnell or the Garmin. That's the issue though, we are not comparing it to those models because it's not even close to the same price category.
And in the sub 200 category, there is not much better than the NX7. The fact that, like the Inesis Tour 900 model, you can actually get
- Value for money The only comparable rangefinder in this price range is the Inesis Tour 900
- LCD Display & 6X magnification. Despite the maximum rating for distance, you will struggle to lock onto targets as small as a pin from outside 220 yards.
- Slope functionality. With just a click, the rangefinder will calculate the distance that the shot really plays based on how much or little elevation there is between you and the flag.
- Carry case, battery. Lifetime battery replacements from the company.
- Precision Care Package. Precision Pro is one of the best in the industry for customer care
- For this price not much but small things like magnetic attachment wouldn't be hard to implement for tiny money
- Magnification is 6x vs the new model at 7x
- Viewfinder can be a bit dark so not as good as higher end models in the early morning light
Most advanced full of tech rangefinder
Garmin Approach Z82 might make you think of a Garmin Approach watch like the S40 I reviewed. They have created one of the best golf rangefinders, absolutely bursting with tech and features. I am quite surprised myself.
The Garmin Z82 rangefinder is half rangefinder, half GPS unit like a watch. There is even a full color display to see what's happening on the hole. You can of course, shoot with the laser to get the pin distance, but you can also get the quick reference front, middle and back readings for those tricky shots. This feature alone just cuts out so much doubt especially on a new course.
The GPS rangefinder has a video screen unlike the normal viewfinders which we are used to. Just like on the watch you can also find distances to and over hazards. What makes it even better is there are wind readings!
- Courses on the device. 41,000 preloaded golf courses with the device.
- Buzz vibration technology that buzzes when you hit the target.
- Garmin App. It will keep your data in the app on the map so you can review it later.
- Find my Garmin feature. You can use this similar to an Apple Find my Phone and use the GPS capability to find where you left it.
- Tournament acceptable. You can switch between modes easily
- Front, middle, and back distances with green view ability. Quick references to carry the front of the green or stop short of the back. If you're in a spot of bother and a row of trees stops you from seeing the pin, you can use the green view to plan your shot.
- Wind readings. No other device can do what Garmin does by reading wind into the plays like distance.
- Hazard view. Like on Garmin watches or GPS golf devices, you can scroll through hazards to see how far to them, and how far over them.
- Price. Because it’s a rangefinder and a GPS, it’s a 2-in-1 device so it's expensive. It's a nice solution if you using GPS and a rangefinder at the same time!
- Battery life. The color screen and all the features smash the battery life.
Which rangefinders to avoid - the worst of the worst
These things get rave reviews but I’m really not sure why - it's a bit suspicious to be honest. I have played golf with hundreds and hundreds of golfers, from cheap Charlies to rich guys. I have played with people who have every gadget in the book and some people who have only a cheap rangefinder.
I have NEVER seen anyone using a Tectectec golf laser rangefinder.
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 at whatever distance, multiple readings need to be taken to ensure an accurate distance but the distances can vary wildly from the same spot - sometimes 10 yards difference from the same spot.
I have tried both of these models and was not able to even put them on my channel because they are so bad. Steve also has a Mileseey, so that's two out of two Mileseeys being crap. He had to dump it, because he was always around 7 to 11 yards different to my readings from the same spot when I used my Bushnell or Inesis. Every single time. With the shorter reading he was always taking one club too little.
I don't know who is buying these things and thinking they are good...because they are not. I have seen people using Milessey and when I tell them the correct distances with my Bushnell, they are distraught.
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 golf rangefinder is much better value.
Hunting rangefinders - avoid
The price of golf specific rangefinders is roughly the same price as a hunting rangefinder so why handicap yourself by buying one made for hunting? You might save $5 and have unit that functions completely wrong for golf. Here's why it is wrong for golf:
A hunting rangefinder is set to prioritize a moving target behind trees. It is not set to find a target in front of a backdrop. Golf rangefinders are programmed to find the pin set in the foreground. When you use a hunting rangefinder, you will get distances to the things in the background and it is incredibly frustrating.
What you need to know about golf rangefinders
How to use a rangefinder
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 accurate distances 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.
For full information on how to use a golf rangefinder, check out my article here.
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.
Learn your carry distances with your irons on the course
When you play on the course, compare where your pitch mark is in relation to the pin after you get the distance to the pin. Imagine you are 150 yards from the hole and take an 8 iron. You hit it well and you are short right of the pin. How many yards short are you?
Can you use this information to say that your 8 iron goes 142 when you strike it well? This is valuable information to use for the rest of your golfing life so you know exactly which distance you hit each club.
What do you see through a rangefinder?
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 laser rangefinders. Hunting laser 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.
How accurate is a rangefinder?
Rangefinders are incredibly accurate distance measuring devices 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.
The very cheap models that copy their design and accessories to look similar to the top brands...avoid avoid avoid. They usually are very inaccurate.
What’s the difference between GPS watches and rangefinders?
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.
Should I get a rangefinder with slope or no slope?
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.
What To Look For in a Rangefinder?
You need accuracy to give yourself a committed idea of what you are going to do. Some of the very cheap models can put doubt in your mind. Better optics and features means better, more accurate distances.
Ease of Use
Mostly you will find a rangefinder has two buttons. one to switch between meters and yards and the other is to get the distance. Usually the button for distances is clicked once and it will find the flag as long as you hold the bullseye on the target steady. Then you can hold the button down to scan. These are the easiest to use and most models go this way.
This one is only important to about 300 yards so you can plan your next 2 shots. Beyond 300 yards, no one is hitting the green, or making intricate plans on a 400 yard hole. The number for distance range is largely for marketing to seem like it's better than the next. You need to have a rangefinder that will be able to pick up the distance from 220 if you can hit it that far.
You get what you pay for in the optics world, whether it's cameras or telescopes, binoculars or rangefinders. Lower your expectations if you go cheap, and raise your expectations as you go more expensive.
The more features a rangefinder has, the more the battery will die quickly. Most standard rangefinders that provide straight out distances without any special tricks like wind or pressure measurements, will last a long time. I replace my battery in my rangefinder twice a year and that's an average of 2-3 rounds a week.
If you play in watery conditions, this is important. One of the tough ones is humid conditions. Sometimes they may fog up internally and a waterproof one will not do that.
If you are color blind, avoid the red display. Some viewfinders use red digits and this can be bad on green backdrops. The standard black digits work well and the less clutter the better. Sometimes manufacturers want to put all sorts of stuff on the screen that you don't need. You need a flat distance and a slope distance and that's all.
Slope Measurement Capabilities
Get slope. You can turn it off. But get it because it will teach you in your normal rounds how much a slope affects the playing distance of the shot. The prices are coming down for everything and let's be realistic here. You want to have all the features because Jimmy and Johnny also have slope and you're hamstringing yourself if you think you can get by without it. I will never use a rangefinder without slope
Who should buy a golf rangefinder?
Golf rangefinders are suitable for every level of player and there's not a single golfer who won’t benefit from a golf rangefinder.
Benefits of having one of the best golf rangefinders
- Learn the distance you carry every club in your bag
- Calculate true distances in practice rounds before competitions
- Calculate your real driver and fairway wood distances off the tee
- Never be short on an approach again
- Have confidence you know the distance to a hazard and select a club to avoid it
- Essential equipment for breaking 90 and 80
- If you follow a strategy like my breaking 90 or 100 guides and want to calculate distances to split your shots.
Myths about golf rangefinders
“I’m not good enough to get a rangefinder”
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. A golf rangefinder is worth it!
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.
“I don't need one, I can pace it out”
Good luck. I was one of these people. Then I would ask a friend to tell me the real distance after I spent 30 seconds finding out the distance by pacing 17 yards form the 150 yard marker. I thought it was 133 yards. Well no, Matt, the pin is set on the back of the green and that's adding another 13 yards, so the real distance is 146.
I bought a rangefinder the next day.
“All rangefinders are made in the same factory anyway”
That would be incorrect. You get what you pay for. Go for Milessey and Tectectec and have a world of annoyance. Go for higher or mid range models and you will never look back.
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. Mileseey is another brand to avoid like the plague.
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.
Prices are coming down as more competitors enter the market of rangefinders making it one of the best times to buy right now.
You can get a good rangefinder for between $200-250 that works as good as anything on the market.
At $400-550 you get features and more features. Mostly you'll enjoy the pin-lock, vibration, slope function but the speed difference is quite noticeable.