GPS or Laser - Troy Denton, PGA Professional - Golf Instruction

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  • December 20, 2014

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When it comes to finding your yardages, marking off the ball using on-course yardage markers is time consuming and, often, inaccurate. Plus, with today’s yardage technology, why would you? The technology on the market today – golf GPS systems and laser rangefinders – are great options for determining your yardages, but both have advantages and disadvantages. Take a look at each option’s pros and cons to decide what’s best for you:

GPS

Pros

  • Provides front, middle and back of green distance.
  • Steadiness is not required. A GPS gives distance without having to aim and accurately “hit” the target.
  • Users can obtain the distance of targets, even when they can’t see it.
  • Fully featured models provide bonus features, like hole layouts, scorecards and statistics.
  • A GPS can be cheaper, especially if it is a smartphone app.

Cons

  • While many come preloaded with courses, users are usually still required to register them online before use, regularly update the device via the computer, as well as download newly added golf courses as needed.
  • With all the features available, and the ongoing updates required, the learning curve for use is much bigger.
  • Less accurate than a laser. Weather, trees and other satellite interferences can affect GPS readings.
  • Short battery life. Users must remember to charge it after each round.

Laser

Pros

  • No need to download courses, register the device online or stay on top of updates.
  • The learning curve is much smaller than that of a GPS.
  • More accurate. A laser will give almost exact yardage to any target that can be seen, including the actual flag.
  • Substantial battery life.

Cons

  • More susceptible to human error – steady hands are required to ensure the user “hits” the right target for a reading. Windy weather and distance can complicate this.
  • Unable to measure the distance of objects that can’t be seen.
  • Lasers are usually more expensive.
  • No front, middle and back of green distance. While you may be getting the exact distance to the pin, it’s not always apparent where on the green the pin is located.
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