Do you own a rangefinder, and if not, why? The answer might be that they’re too expensive. Maybe you feel like you’re not a good enough player for it to matter. Or maybe you’re not interested because you don’t play tournament golf and view tournaments as the setting where a rangefinder would have the most value. There would definitely be other reasons as well, depending on the individual, and some of the concerns are understandable.
But if you take your golf game seriously and have a strong desire to get better, a rangefinder is an absolute must for your bag. In fact, a rangefinder will prove every bit as valuable as each of your clubs, and maybe even more valuable. Not buying it? We’ll explain.
While you might not hit any shots with a rangefinder, using one to its full capability will save you shots during a round, which is essentially what your clubs are designed to do. Additionally, a rangefinder also serves in many capacities as a caddy would, a function that cannot be offered by any of the 14 clubs you’re allowed by the USGA. And with the slope technology available in many rangefinders today, being able to remove the guesswork from uphill or downhill shots only adds to their value.
The mistake some people make is seeing a rangefinder as solely a device for getting a yardage to a flag for an approach shot. But that functionality is just a small component of what a rangefinder can do for your game.
Here are five reasons why you need to be in the market for a rangefinder if you don’t already have one or why you might want to make the investment in a newer, more effective product:
While it’s nice to know that you have 138 yards to the flag, especially if there’s water short of the pin or long is an automatic bogey or worse, that information is virtually useless if you don’t know what club you hit 138 yards. The best players in the world know to within inches how far they hit every club in their bag, and control is the most important attribute there is when it comes to being a good iron player. There’s only one way to develop that type of distance control and that is with practice. Learning your yardages will be exponentially easier with a rangefinder. When you go to a driving range and hit shots to various target flags, you need to know exactly how far those targets are to learn what each club in your bag is capable of from a distance standpoint. Precision is a must on the course; guessing is a recipe for disaster. And learning how to integrate precision into your game starts on the practice tee with the help of a rangefinder.
As mentioned, exact yardages to the pin are only a small part of what a rangefinder, when used properly, will do for your game. Using it as a course management tool is even more important. Just think of all the different shots that you’ll face during a round where you’ll need more information to decide on the proper play and make the right club choice to execute successfully. This is where your rangefinder becomes your caddy. You might have to lay up short of a water hazard or cross-bunkers on a par-5. Your rangefinder will give you the right yardage. You might be facing a dogleg left tee shot on a short par-4. Your rangefinder will tell you how far it is to clear the bunker on the corner and how far it is to the treeline on the other side. The scenarios are endless, and if you have a rangefinder in the bag, you’ll come to use it multiple times on different holes throughout a round. And the information you glean will help you better manage your game, a key to shooting lower scores.
Judging distance by what we like to call the “eye-crometer” can be done fairly effectively from the middle of the fairway. If you have a 150-yard post and a flag system for front, back, and middle pin locations, you can come up with a fairly accurate number just by eyeballing things. But when you get off the beaten path, which happens to everyone, you won’t believe how much your yardages change thanks to the angles that now come into play. More specifically, you won’t believe how much longer those shots are, which is why when you’re wayward off the tee that we’re willing to bet your approach shots come up short on a regular basis if you don’t have the benefit of an exact yardage. Angles can be an issue even from the fairway. Two players could find the fairway off the tee on a par-4 and both be positioned evenly with a 150-yard marker. But if one player is down the right side of the fairway and the other down the left, depending on the pin location, one of those players could face an approach shot anywhere from 10-15 yards longer. Bottom line: Your rangefinder can provide value on every full shot but never will it be more valuable than when you’re wide right or wide left off the tee.
When do we play our best golf? It’s when we’re confident. Most people equate confidence in golf with their swing, and that’s certainly a vital component when it comes to playing well. But equally important is being confident over every shot you hit, and that embodies more than just feeling good about your golf swing. What do we mean? If you know, as discussed earlier, how far you hit each of your clubs and you have an exact yardage to a pin on an approach shot or know how far it is to carry the bunker down the left side of a certain par-5 or that 225 yards is a perfect number for your tee shot on a short par-4, you can stand up and swing with confidence. Fear and/or doubt will doom golf shots more quickly than anything, even if you feel good about your swing. When you have doubts about the shot you’re trying to play, failure will result far more often than success. The use of a rangefinder is one of the easiest ways to remove that doubt, and it’s among the biggest reasons why you’re missing out if you don’t have a rangefinder in your bag.
We’ve all been there, standing on the tee, waiting for someone in the group ahead, with the green clear, to wander up, down, and across a fairway looking for a sprinkler head to get a yardage for the shot they’re about to play. Let’s be honest; without a rangefinder, that “someone” has probably been you at one time or another. And before those with rangefinders added one to the bag, they were probably guilty as well. Hey, it happens. But for many, slow play is the biggest negative when it comes to golf, and it’s unquestionably one of the reasons why the game’s growth has been somewhat stunted in recent years. Now, we’re definitely not saying that a lack of rangefinders is the sole or even main cause of slow play. It’s not. But using a rangefinder not only makes getting a yardage and deciding on a shot easier, it also make that process go a little faster. And when it comes to slow play, any progress than can be made is valuable and good for the overall health of the game.