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GPS vs Rangfinders

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... Another great read from Barbajo! He brings up some interesting points about both. I am a rangefinder guy and love the simplicity of, and for once this is accurate ... just point and shoot. When I am swinging well, I like exact yardage because I can hit close to those exact numbers. Add to that I am not a tech nerd, and I mean "nerd" in the most complementary way so fiddling with numbers or arrows is beyond my technical ability when I just want an exact number, then pull my club and swing. Combined with the fact that I have never worn a watch, ring or anything else on my fingers, hands or wrists so a GPS watch ain't gonna be the first. Carrying a hand held unit would also be an inconvenience because I walk 95% of the time and like to grab my rangefinder from my bag, shoot the yardage and it's back in my bag in less than 10 seconds. Thankfully I still have 20-15 vision but alas at 67 anything right in front of my face is hieroglyphics without my reading glasses. Rangefinder is the clear choice for me.

... John brings up some great points for a GPS unit. Playing a new course, a blind shot renders my rangefinder useless as well as if I cut the corner over those trees, what is on the other side and how far is it? Of course a GPS has those numbers, perhaps along with a visual. Soon as I saw the title I thought "Oh boy here we go again" but it is very well written and I found it quite interesting and informative. 

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I have a gps watch but just bought a rangefinder as well. Plan to use both. The gps for most shots, but use the rangefinder with significant uphill/downhill or when in hitting a layup to a certain area. 

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I say both! I have a Garmin watch, for everyday use, that I also use on the course for my GPS yardages and a Bushnell rangefinder. They both have their advantages. I use the GPS mainly for any non-approach shots and the rangefinder mainly for my approach shots. However there is still a bit of mix/matching based on the situation. I like having both available, and often times find myself looking at GPS on every shot (even after using my rangefinder) simply because it is on my wrist and simple to check. But previously being a rangefinder only golfer, you HAVE to have some kind of GPS backup, even if it's simply a free phone app, just so blind shots don't affect you. I used to have to fish around for my phone/app when faced with a blind shot, now, I just look at my watch, which even has a green direction functionality built in 🙂.

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I didn't read the article.... but,

I'm a duel use guy. GPS & LRF. Many years ago I started off with a Golf Logic handheld GPS unit. It was basic and only provided F,M,B of green distance numbers. Simple. Later it crapped out and I bought a Skycaddie SGX or something like that. It would do a lot more fancy stuff including a color screen with hole layout and a movable cursor to pin point distances or pin placements I guess. I never used any of that and simply kept it in the F,M,B distance display setting. (it was too much to fiddle with IMO) Around that time I also purchased my first LRF.

Today and together I like to glance at my little Garmin (matchbook size) GPS clipped on the cart and see the F,M,B number and take a quick shot at the pin with the LRF. I can quickly determine if the flag is actually on the front or back for example. I always like knowing the back of green distance. It keeps me from under clubbing and coming up short. Like many golfers/amateurs coming up short is a very common mistake/occurrence IMO. For me personally, I'm rarely long or over a green. Anyway... that's how things work for me.

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6 minutes ago, PlaidJacket said:

I always like knowing the back of green distance. It keeps me from under clubbing and coming up short. Like many golfers/amateurs coming up short is a very common mistake/occurrence IMO. For me personally, I'm rarely long or over a green. Anyway... that's how things work for me.

 

... Slightly off topic but when in Rome. The two biggest leaps in my golf game were learning to flight my wedges, taking more 3/4 and 1/2 shots, giving me much more control than launching high and bringing more variables into play. The 2nd biggest leap came when I started taking more club anytime I was in-between clubs. If the thought ever came into my head "this should be a 6 or 7 iron" I started going with more club. This came from the knowledge that when most pro's don't hit their distance, they miss long 50% and short 50% while Am's hit short 99% of the time. Obviously there are instances when you don't want to be long, but in most situations if golfers always took more club, their GIR's would increase. For high index players I would suggest playing a round and take one more club for every single shot  and don't hold back but take the risk of being long. It will most likely be an eye opener. Better players I suggest using the club they think is accurate for their yardage but if ever between clubs or even thinking 7 should be enough, take one club more. 
 

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6 minutes ago, chisag said:

The 2nd biggest leap came when I started taking more club

Agreed. I good player - friend of mine, 30 years ago told me one day after seeing my frustration.... hit one more club. One more club. That thought still echos my head from time to time.

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                                                                               :755178188_TourEdge: EXS 10.5*, TWGTLogo2.png.06c802075f4d211691d88895b3f34b75.png 929-HS FW4 16.5* 

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15 minutes ago, chisag said:

 

... Slightly off topic but when in Rome. The two biggest leaps in my golf game were learning to flight my wedges, taking more 3/4 and 1/2 shots, giving me much more control than launching high and bringing more variables into play. The 2nd biggest leap came when I started taking more club anytime I was in-between clubs. If the thought ever came into my head "this should be a 6 or 7 iron" I started going with more club. This came from the knowledge that when most pro's don't hit their distance, they miss long 50% and short 50% while Am's hit short 99% of the time. Obviously there are instances when you don't want to be long, but in most situations if golfers always took more club, their GIR's would increase. For high index players I would suggest playing a round and take one more club for every single shot  and don't hold back but take the risk of being long. It will most likely be an eye opener. Better players I suggest using the club they think is accurate for their yardage but if ever between clubs or even thinking 7 should be enough, take one club more. 
 

So much good right there.  That was one of the best pieces of advice from my boss when we’d get out to play after work.
 

“More club means less tension and less tension means relax.” 
 

I know that it’s broken English but I love what it means. I had the tendency of trying to overpower my irons and inevitably, they’d get hung up in the wind or I would spin them off the green.  There was a second lesson in that advice as well.  Slowing down and taking more club would force me to keep my body and arms in sync. I’m grateful to him for that round. 

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That's definitely good advice @chisag, I find that most of my misses are short. I think it all comes down to letting the ego go. Using Arccos, I have a pretty good idea of my yardage but I don't hit them as often as I'd like. 

 

As far as the topic of the thread, I'll use both Arccos and my rangefinder during the round. Arccos gives me an idea of what to hit to get close, while the rangefinder is unparalleled closer to the green. 

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This was a very good read! Personally I prefer a rangefinder, but I recently picked up a Bushnell Phantom GPS to deal with situations when I don't have a clear look at the pin or another marker of some sort. It's also helpful for my DECADE data collection. Since I've been using both, I can certainly see the utility in either device, but I'd be hard pressed to call one better than the other. Like a lot of things, I think it comes down to preference, which is why my default is a rangefinder with the GPS as a backup. I'll also add that the GPS accuracy is pretty impressive as it's typically within a yard or two of the rangefinder!

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I lean toward GPS. I don’t feel like I need exact distances and think front/middle/back distances are adequate along with some other distances that the gps adds. I make calculations off of those numbers

I do have a rangefinder and use it to find distance to specific targets the gps may not provide.

GPS vs rangefinder becomes a personal decision based on the information you want or are looking for. I find that while each provide similar information the use cases are very different

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I think they both have their places.  Having recently tested the SkyCaddie, I've been using GPS more than my Bushnell rangefinder.  I like the front, middle, back green readings of a GPS, but sometimes want to know a bit more info on some of the trickier greens or yardage to a particular point on the fairway.  If I only could choose one, it would probably be the GPS, simply because of the versatility.  One drawback to a rangefinder that I have experienced is hidden landing zones (doglegs, etc).

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I have both a range finder with slope and 18Birdies GPS on my phone. While I really like both, I find that I’ve been using the GPS a lot more because it also takes the wind into consideration. Also, like @chisag mentioned, if I have a blind shot, or I want to plan a particular tee short distance or par 5 distance to give myself a comfortable approach short, I can do so. 


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Im a rangefinder guy. Its simplistic and doesn't require updating. Its point and shoot and right to the point. I can see how gps can have its advantage when playing a new course but how many courses are you going to play that you have never played before? And if you are playing a new course, I perfer to do some research and go to google earth to maps and look at the layout and are notes.


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I like having both. I use ShotScope to track everything, so having the GPS watch on my hand is good for a quick yardage. A lot of the course I play have pretty severe elevation changes, so the laser helps with that, and for getting exact distances to various targets. I also use The Grint app on my phone on occasion. It helps to see an overlay of the hole, and to be able to choose what club to hit to get the yardage I want for the next shot. It all just depends on the pace of play. If we're moving along and not waiting to hit shots, then I'll just use GPS. If it's a 5 hour round, I'll use the other stuff to kill time while waiting to hit.


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I have a ski caddie that has been great for my game. I really enjoy it. There are times that it would be nice to shoot a distance and get a specific number.

that seems to be where the industry is headed with combo range finder and GPS in one. There are some great models out there. They are still pretty expensive but as they improve and become more widely accepted. They will get more affordable.


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I like to use a combination of both as sometimes it is hard to get a yardage with one or the other. I have a golf buddy attached to my cart that I use to quickly confirm my rangefinder yardages as on occasion the rangefinder locks onto something other than the pin. Also, I find the GPS handy for front and back yardages which are more difficult to pick up on a rangefinder. These yardages are very helpful when playing a course that has very firm greens so you need to land near the front of the green due to excessive rollout. This is not an issue if you have a true pin sheet but I do not know of many courses that do this unless you are playing a tournament.


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Will read the article tonight.  In the meantime, went from having neither to a GPS watch and a laser.  Bought the laser.  The watch was a goodie bag gift.  Thought I would never use it.

I use the watch about 90% of the time.  Distance to center is good but really like having front and back as well. That helps me decide about clubbing up.

I can't wear watches or rings when I play so the watch stays clipped to my bag during the round.  Only bring out the laser when looking for a specific cover distance say a trap or water hazard.  My watch is pretty basic and doesn't show either.

When asked which to get, I frequently recommend the GPS for the reasons above and one more.  The time you really need a good yardage is when you've sprayed it to the adjacent fairway and you need to get back in play. Trees will obscure the laser but you'll still get a good number from the GPS.


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I use the garmin approch S60 gps watch and I find it pretty accurate. I have compared it a few times to a range finder that one of my buddies has and distances were comparable however I can see the advantage of having both for different situations as discussed in previous comments. Luckily the guys I play with carry a range finder if I need it.


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I use my rangefinder for all flags for approach shots but I also use GPS data (Arccos now, Hole 19 or similar prior to that) to see the layout and know where I was trying to hit to the fat part of the fairway or around a dogleg, etc.  If I don't want to go at the flag I'll use the GPS data to know if its short or long of center and try to miss towards the center of the green away from trouble.  

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I use my rangefinder for all flags for approach shots but I also use GPS data (Arccos now, Hole 19 or similar prior to that) to see the layout and know where I was trying to hit to the fat part of the fairway or around a dogleg, etc.  If I don't want to go at the flag I'll use the GPS data to know if its short or long of center and try to miss towards the center of the green away from trouble.  

Just to add to that, the LRF gets me distance to the flag and the GPS phone app gets me the distance to the 'gotchas' like bunkers or penalty areas.


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